Monday, April 29, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 29, 2024

Here are links to last week's articles 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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"The number of individual books banned by schools is soaring to a record level, according to a new PEN America report Banned in the USA: Narrating the Crisis. The report documents over 4,000 instances of book banning during the first half of the current school year – more than in the entire previous 2022-2023 school year.

"The report, which examines book bans from July to December 2023, details book bans in 52 public school districts across 23 states. Bans took place in both red and blue districts."
-- from Pen America in New Report Finds Unprecedented Surge in School Books Bans


The Return of the Tradteacher

Should we support untraditional teaching, curriculum, and school organization models?

From Teacher in a Strange Land
Been reading about the tradwife lately? Although explicit definitions vary, the general gist is returning to a post-war conception of a stay-at-home wife, most likely with children (or planning for children), in relationships where men make all the family decisions, and control the finances. Reinforcing patriarchal norms and glorifying the satisfying and ‘natural’ role of housewife.

If you’re hearing a touch of cynicism there, well—I lived through a time when the tradwife, even if she was working, could not get a credit card or substantial business loan. While I certainly defend any woman’s right to stay home and support her children and spouse in places other than an outside workplace, the whole “tradwife” schtick (especially combined with the rollback of Roe) makes me itchy.

It also strikes me that tradwives are just another glitzy, social media-driven facet of a larger wave of backlash against a whole lot of un-trad trends in American society: Full-blown reproductive freedom. The continued shrinkage of mainline religions. Honoring personal sex/gender choices. Women running for office and corner offices–and winning. And so on.

I also see lots of pushback against untraditional teaching, curriculum and school organization models. The whole “Science of Reading” battle rings very familiar to those of us who started teaching in the 1970s, when teachers were pushing back against the “Why Johnny Can’t Read” –because teachers theoretically weren’t teaching phonics–crusade in the late 50s.


Defend the People’s Schools

Tom Ultican offers a source for those who support public education.

From Tultican
I am sure you’ll be shocked to your core but there are some really bad people out there trying to end publicly-financed free education.

Since the beginning to the 21st millennium, misguided wealthy people have been attacking public education. The reasons range from religion to hubris. Betsy DeVos thinks secular education is an insult to her Christian God. Bill Gates believes he knows more than anyone else and Charles Koch is opposed to all government-sponsored social action. That would all be fine if they were not billionaires, using immense wealth to impose their way.

Truth-in-Funding (TiF) offers tools for opposing their propaganda with a webpage providing links to 25 organizations, working to protect public schools. Organizations such as National Education Policy Center, Network for Public Education and Education Law Center share links to their research along with toolkits for delivering the message.

TiF’s homepage states:
“School voucher programs use public funds to pay for private education costs. These programs are spreading despite overwhelming evidence that they are harmful public policy.”
And their about page says:
“This website offers a wide range of tools from groups that oppose vouchers and other efforts to divert public funding in education. We work to protect the vital institution of public education and ensure all students have access to welcoming, well-resourced public schools.”

David Berliner: The U.S. Has Many Wonderful Teachers, and Few Who Are “Bad” Teachers

Good teachers are out there.

From Diane Ravitch
[quote edited for typos]
A refereed journal article by colleagues reported on a survey of adults, asking for their beliefs about “good teachers.” The respondents defined good teachers as those who “knew me, cared about me, and wanted me to do well; created interesting activities for us to do; praised me and other students for good grades and improvements; gave extra help or a challenge to students who needed or wanted it; covered a lot of material that was useful; and made learning relevant to me and my life.”

These respondents had little trouble recalling such teachers. Good teachers demonstrated caring and support, along with strong subject matter knowledge. They also estimated that more than two-thirds of their teachers were good or very good teachers, and they believed that only 12% of their teachers were bad or very bad.

With a different set of colleagues, I studied what students said about their “bad teachers”. In that study we had access to 4.8 million ratings of teachers! Using a 100-point scale, 55% of our respondents gave a maximum rating of 100 (the best score), 75% gave a rating of 80 or more, and 89% gave a rating greater than 50 points. These data are compatible with other studies suggesting that America’s students are exposed to high percentages of “good” teachers, and a low percentage of “bad” teachers.


FWCS board approves new math curriculum adoption

Students in Fort Wayne will learn math with new curriculum materials.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Fort Wayne Community Schools board on Monday approved a new math curriculum for elementary and middle school students.

The board approved buying both i-Ready from Curriculum Associates of North Billerica, Mass., and Indiana Reveal from McGraw Hill of Columbus. The district will spend more than $3.5 million total on the curriculum.

i-Ready will be used for elementary students, and Indiana Reveal will be used at the middle school level. Both resources are Indiana standard-aligned and can be used in core, small group and individualized instruction.

Courtney Lumbley, FWCS director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the district started the pilot process in fall 2022. She said 19 elementary and five middle schools have used the material. The pilot involved about 1,500 elementary and about 1,200 middle school students.

“We found so much value in the two-year process for teachers to really understand in depth what those publishers have to offer,” Lumbley said.
**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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