Monday, April 15, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 15, 2024

Here are links to articles from the last two weeks receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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"...a voucher by any other name still smells the same. It’s a payoff to parents so that they’ll exit public education, a false promise of education choice, a redirection of public taxpayer dollars into private pockets, an outsourcing of discrimination, a public subsidy for private religious choices, a means of defunding and dismantling public education as we understand it in this country, a transformation of a public good into a market-based commodity. Call it what you like. There isn’t enough air freshener in the world to make it smell like a rose." -- Peter Greene, quoted by Diane Ravitch in Peter Greene: A Voucher By Any Other Name Is Still a Voucher and a Hoax


Peter Greene: A Voucher By Any Other Name Is Still a Voucher and a Hoax

Voucher supporters won't use the word "vouchers."

From Diane Ravitch quoting Peter Greene
Voucher supporters have one major problem: school vouchers are unpopular.

The term doesn’t test well. Measure of public support is iffy– if you ask people if they would like every student to have the chance to ride to a great school on their own pony, people say yes, but if you ask a more reality-based framing (“should we spend education dollars on public schools or subsidies for some private schools”) the results look a bit different.

But one clear measure of public support for vouchers is this; despite all the insistence that the public just loves the idea, no voucher measure has ever been passed by the voters in a state. All voucher laws have been passed by legislators, not voted in by the public.

Voucher supporters have developed one clear strategy– call them something else.

Bad Governance with Education Vouchers

Public dollars should be accountable to public scrutiny.

From Tultican
February 26, a Maricopa County Grand Jury indicted six people, including three employees of Arizona’s education department, for forgery, fraud and money laundering. The forty counts charged were related to stealing from the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. Attorney General Kris Mayes claimed the fact that three department of education employees were involved indicates a lack of adequate fraud prevention but ESA advocates say new guardrails are not needed.

Before arriving into the 21st century, protecting against malfeasance with tax-generated dollars was considered fundamental to good governance. Arguably, voucher programs violate this basic tenet.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices Appear to Question Constitutionality of Religious Charter School

Public funds should be for public schools, not religious schools.

From Jan Resseger
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the state of Oklahoma heard oral arguments in a case filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond versus the Oklahoma Virtual Charter School Board, which approved a religious charter school last June. The case challenges whether the establishment of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School can be legal under the provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution. If the school is permitted to open in August, it will be operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa.

The Oklahoman’s Murray Evans reports that during oral arguments on Tuesday, “Drummond told justices he sued the virtual-school board ‘to defend the separation of church and state’… Drummond said Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution was at the heart of his case: ‘No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary or sectarian institution as such.'”

There are two issues being tested in two cases challenging the establishment of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School: (1) protecting children from a charter school’s imposition of religious practice in violation of the constitutional protection of religious liberty, and (2) ensuring that government is not sponsoring charter schools that can select students according to the school’s religious affiliation or discriminate against students whose LGBTQ status (or other characteristic) may violate church strictures.

Indianapolis charter school seeks to go private so it can accept vouchers

From Chalkbeat Indiana*
An Indianapolis charter school with a checkered track record wants to become a private school that accepts students who use state vouchers.

The Genius School, a K-6 school on the city’s east side, is petitioning the State Board of Education for accreditation as a non-public school. State law requires private schools that accept vouchers to be accredited by the State Board of Education or a recognized accreditation agency.

The board has the item on its agenda for a meeting on Wednesday.

Following a meeting of the school’s board of directors on Thursday, Genius School Head of School Shy-Quon Ely II confirmed that the school is exploring its options as a “non-public” school.

The move is the latest attempt by the school to stay open despite its rocky history. It would allow the school to operate without the oversight of a separate entity — its charter authorizer — tasked with holding the school accountable. The Genius School’s decision also comes as the number of students eligible for and using private school vouchers has grown dramatically in the state.


New Law Allowing Religion into Science Classrooms Is Dangerous for Everyone

Religion belongs in Sunday School...or private schools. Public schools must teach science, not religious dogma.

From Scientific American
I grew up a creationist in the rural southeastern U.S. I am now a scientist, educator, wife, mother and person of faith. Regardless of whether you practice religion, you should fight to prohibit the teaching of nonscientific alternative ideas in science classrooms and use your vote and your voice to prevent the inclusion of religious beliefs in public education. A recently signed law in West Virginia illustrates why.

I often hear lamentations about the removal of God from public schools. These sentiments are based on a misinterpretation of the principle of the separation of church and state. In the U.S., religious beliefs and practices are protected and situated in their rightful place within people’s homes and communities so that individuals can choose what to teach their children regarding religion. Kids can still pray whenever they wish, gather with their peers, create faith-based groups or even nondisruptively practice their faith in school. Separating state and church means young people cannot be compelled to engage in religious actions by someone in a position of power, such as a teacher, administrator or lawmaker. Separation of church and state is as critical to people of faith as it is to those who do not practice faith traditions. The protection of personal religious freedoms was a vital component of the foundation of our nation.

On March 22 West Virginia governor Jim Justice signed a bill that purports to protect the ability of the state’s public school educators to teach scientific theories. There is no actual problem that the new law would solve, however; none of its supporters produced a teacher who plausibly claimed to have been oppressed. But the legislative history of the bill, known as Senate Bill 280, makes it clear that its real aim is to encourage educators to teach religiously motivated “alternatives” to evolution. As introduced, SB 280 would have expressly allowed the teaching of “intelligent design” in West Virginia’s public schools.


Fort Wayne Community Schools seeks teachers at job fair

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Aspiring Fort Wayne Community Schools educators could get an interview with a principal this month just by showing up at North Side High School.

The district will host a teacher job fair from 3:30 to 6 p.m. April 16 at the school, 475 E. State Blvd., as it seeks to fill about 100 vacancies for next academic year.

The number of openings isn’t unusual, said Kody Tinnel, human resources manager of strategic projects. Compared to this time last year, he said Wednesday, “the need is about the same.”

FWCS employs more than 4,000 people, including nearly 2,000 teachers, according to its website.

Special education and English language-learner positions are the areas of highest need, Tinnel said, but openings include “a little bit of everything.”
*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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