Monday, May 20, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 20, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.

"Vouchers were supposed to improve educational outcomes for poor children. The programs have not only failed to improve learning outcomes, they have increased racial segregation, facilitated religious discrimination, and been a windfall for the wealthy (many of whom already had children in private schools), all while robbing the nation’s public schools of desperately needed resources.

They’ve been a civic and educational disaster."
-- Sheila Kennedy in Race, Religion, Money And Vouchers


Race, Religion, Money And Vouchers

Not only do voucher programs drain money from public schools, fail to increase student achievement, and fill the bank accounts of religious organizations with public tax dollars, but they have also led to a rise in school segregation.

From Sheila Kennedy
The nefarious effects of educational vouchers continue to be documented.

The Washington Post recently reported on a study confirming what a number of prior studies have suggested: that an unexpected rise in racial segregation is largely attributable to the expansion of school voucher programs.
Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, a study being released Monday shows a pronounced increase in school segregation since 1988, particularly in large school districts with significant numbers of Black students.

Overall, school segregation between Black and White students has increased by 25 percent since 1991 in the 533 large districts serving at least 2,500 Black students — a significant increase but nowhere near the decline that occurred in the aftermath of Brown, according to the study. (Of note: the paper makes clear that most of the school segregation in the United States is driven by demographic differences between districts, not within them.)
The study found that the problem was not housing segregation, although that certainly helps explain school segregation, because housing has become less segregated since 1991. It also found that rising school segregation isn’t driven by economic inequality, which has also declined over this period.
The researchers point to two specific policies: federal courts releasing school districts, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg, from obligations to desegregate schools beginning in significant numbers in the late 1990s; and school-choice policies that let parents pick what school their children attend.


Peter Greene: Elon Musk Proclaims His Views about Fixing Education

Your child's teachers know more about education than your local, state, and federal legislators, media pundits, and the billionaires who regularly dump their riches into schemes detrimental to public schools.

From Diane Ravitch
I think most educators would agree that they are tired of getting lectures from billionaires about how to teach or how to fix the problems of American education.

But Peter Greene reports that the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, has decided it’s time for him to add his uninformed views to those of Bill Gates, Betsy DeVos, the Walton family, and a long list of financiers, all of whom use their wealth to change the schools.

The Grinch Who Stole Teacher Appreciation Week

The younger the children, the more important the teachers are, and the less they're paid. It's time to realign our priorities to favor our children...and our future.

From Teacher in a Strange Land Blog - Nancy Flanagan
I’ve always been of the opinion that teachers get so few routine perks in their professional lives they deserve every random treat or award that meanders their way–from sticky little misspelled mash notes to free use of a leased SUV.

After all, there aren’t many workplaces where professionals end up providing their own materials, cleaning services and professional development. There aren’t many college-educated specialists who gladly share their expertise for free–or attend a weekend conference on their own dime, then arrive at work on Monday morning, without a thought for “comp time.” Because if they didn’t show up, someone would have to pay. And it shouldn’t be the teacher next door, or their students.

For these reasons, and a hundred more, nobody begrudges teachers the tokens of appreciation that come their way this week, from the handmade construction-paper cards to the potluck lunch from the PTA. I love it when teachers invite their former students to check in on Facebook–or when they post their stats (years of experience, states/countries/schools, degrees, subjects and so on). It’s good to see colleagues reclaim their honor or share a few points of pride.

But it’s time we asked ourselves just who gets ‘appreciated’ once a year–and whose work is considered vital, essential, and fully professional year-round, with no need for annual symbolic gestures. There’s something about Teacher Appreciation Week that smacks of a pat on the head for being willing to go the distance without adequate compensation or support. We’re supposed to persist and excel ‘for the kids’–a phrase that teachers rightfully perceive as specious and manipulative.


School meals get an upgrade: What to expect going forward

From the Center for Science in the Public Interest
In April 2024, the USDA issued its 2024 Final Rule Requirements for School Meal Programs. This rule, effective July 1, 2024, updates school meal nutrition standards to bring them in closer alignment with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The rule will institute the first-ever added sugar limits for school meals and update sodium standards, among other changes.

The meal pattern changes will begin to take effect starting in school year 2025-26 and will be phased in through school year 2027-2028. The new rule represents a significant step toward science-backed nutrition standards in US schools.

In the last decade, the nutritional quality of school meals has improved significantly, thanks in large part to a 2012 rule that updated school nutrition standards following passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Between school years 2009-2010 and 2014-2015, school meals increased in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and decreased in saturated fat and sodium.

Despite these marked improvements, school meals still have room for improvement...

Indiana sees record participation in voucher program

Indiana's voucher program was never meant to help "poor kids" in "failing schools." The plan has always been to divert money from public education to line the pockets of religious institutions and entrepreneurs. The fact that this harms public education is not a problem for most, and a feature for some.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Participation in Indiana’s school voucher program has nearly doubled in the last three years, with a record 70,095 students – including nearly 10,000 from Allen County – receiving money this academic year to attend private K-12 institutions, according to a new annual report.

The additional 16,833 participants – the largest-ever increase in the Choice Scholarship Program – represented a 31.6% hike from the previous year, the Indiana Department of Education report said.

Participation totaled 35,698 as recently as the 2020-21 year.

This year, students were awarded about $439 million – a 41% increase from last year’s $312 million, the report said.
How much have your county public schools lost to vouchers?

**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.


Monday, May 13, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 13, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.

"Democratic House Minority Leader Shelli Yoder called prohibiting other methods of teaching 'heavy-handed' and 'tyrannical,' even if well-intentioned.

"'If we’ve done one thing it is to communicate to teachers that we do not trust your profession, and we’re gonna micromanage it,' Yoder said. 'And we’re going to make sure that you use this one method of teaching reading. That does create a bit of a pause for me.'"
-- Indiana Joins States Mandating the Science of Reading in Classrooms


Indiana has jumped on the Science of Reading (SoR) bandwagon which includes banning other methods of teaching reading. The state's NAEP scores in reading have dropped, though they are still around the national average. This has given the legislature the excuse to micromanage education, while -- no surprise -- blaming teachers, for the "reading crisis." Other states with legislatures not favorable to public education are joining in -- like Iowa.

The Science of Reading debate is a rehashing of the ongoing "Reading Wars" which pits so-called "phonics first" techniques against so-called "whole language" methods. The debate is not settled.

How many reading education experts are members of the Indiana legislature?

For more information on this topic, see...

The Science of Reading Movement: The never-ending debate and the need for a different approach to reading instruction

ILEC Response: Reading Science: Staying the course amidst the noise (Albert Shanker Institute)

Iowa Mandates “Science of Reading”

The following two articles from Diane Ravitch provide some information about the debate.

From Diane Ravitch
The “Science of Reading” is the panacea of the moment. Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill requiring the use of SofR in the state’s classrooms.

ADEL, Iowa (Gray Television Iowa Capitol Bureau) – Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new law Tuesday meant to boost literacy rates for Iowa children. It requires schools teach a specific reading method, called the Science of Reading, and develop individual plans for students not at grade level.

Nick Covington: What the “Science of Reading” Overlooks

From Diane Ravitch
Nick Covington taught social studies for a decade. He recently decided to delve into the mystique of “the science of reading.” He concluded that we have been “sold a story.”

He begins:

Literacy doesn’t come in a box, we’ll never find our kids at the bottom of a curriculum package, and there can be no broad support for systemic change that excludes input from and support for teachers implementing these programs in classrooms with students.

Exactly one year after the final episode of the podcast series that launched a thousand hot takes and opened the latest front of the post-pandemic Reading Wars, I finally dug into Emily Hanford’s Sold A Story from American Public Media. Six episodes later, I’m left with the ironic feeling that the podcast, and the narrative it tells, missed the point. My goal with this piece is to capture the questions and criticisms that I have not just about the narrative of Sold A Story but of the broader movement toward “The Science of Reading,” and bring in other evidence and perspectives that inform my own. I hope to make the case that “The Science of Reading” is not a useful label to describe the multiple goals of literacy; that investment in teacher professionalization is inoculation against being Sold A Story; and that the unproductive and divisive Reading Wars actually make it more difficult for us to think about how to cultivate literate kids. The podcast, and the Reading Wars it launched, disseminate an incomplete and oversimplified picture of a complex process that plasters over the gaps with feverish insistence.

Elon Musk Has Some Education Thoughts

Yet another billionaire who thinks that his money makes him an education expert.

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
Elon Musk has some thoughts about education, and because he's Very Rich, Fortune Magazine decided it should share some of those thoughts, despite Musk's utter lack of qualifications to talk about education.

Reporter Christiaan Hetzner mostly covers business in Europe, so it's not clear how he stumbled into this particular brief piece, which appears to be lifting a piece of a larger conversation into an article. I'd love a new rule that says every time an outlet gives space to a rich guy's musings about areas in which he has no expertise, the outlet also publishes a piece about the musings of some ordinary human on the topic--maybe even an ordinary human who is an expert in the area.

Hetzner launches right in with both feet.
More than a century ago, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Well, Elon Musk is a doer with a lot of children, and he’s reached the conclusion he doesn’t want his kids to learn from some has-been or never-was simply because they landed a job in a local school thanks to a lack of competition.
It's not clear if Hetzner is editorializing or trying to channel Musk's point of view (I think perhaps the latter), but somebody here is really full of it. I'm not going to argue about Musk's doer qualifications, though his ability to profit off the work of others and his interminable botching of twitter leave me unpersuaded of his genius. But this characterization of teachers is some serious bullshit. And things aren't going to get better.


5 takeaways about segregation 70 years after the Brown decision

America's classrooms are still struggling with segregation.

From The Hechinger Report
...1. The long view shows progress but a worrying uptick, especially in big cities

Not much changed for almost 15 years after the Brown decision. Although Black students had the right to attend another school, the onus was on their families to demand a seat and figure out how to get their child to the school. Many schools remained entirely Black or entirely white...

2. School choice plays a role in recent segregation

Why is segregation creeping back up again?

The expiration of court orders that mandated school integration and the expansion of school choice policies, including the rapid growth of charter schools, explains all of the increase in segregation from 2000 onward, said Reardon. Over 200 medium-sized and large districts were released from desegregation court orders from 1991 to 2009, and racial school segregation in these districts gradually increased in the years afterward.

School choice, however, appears to be the dominant force. More than half of the increase in segregation in the 2000s can be attributed to the rise of charter schools, whose numbers began to increase rapidly in the late 1990s. In many cases, either white or Black families flocked to different charter schools, leaving behind a less diverse student body in traditional public schools...


Heritage Foundation Wants to Deny the Right to Public Schooling for Undocumented Immigrant Children

The Heritage Foundation argues for denying undocumented immigrant children a chance at public education.

From Jan Resseger
I like to think I know enough about awful public policy that it would be hard to surprise me, but I confess that the beginning of Kalyn Belsha’s new report for Chalkbeat describes a politics so indecent that I was shocked:

“An influential conservative think tank has laid out a strategy to challenge a landmark Supreme Court decision that protects the right of undocumented children to attend public school. The Heritage Foundation, which is spending tens of millions of dollars to craft a policy playbook for a second Trump presidential term… released a brief calling on states to require public schools to charge unaccompanied migrant children and children with undocumented parents tuition to enroll.” (You can look at the Heritage Foundation’s very short policy brief which is part of Heritage’s Project 2025 that lays out an extremely conservative platform.)

Belsha explains Heritage’s reasoning for this cruelty: “Such a move ‘would draw a lawsuit from the Left,’ the brief states, ‘which would likely lead the Supreme Court to reconsider its ill-considered Plyler v. Doe decision’—referring to the 1982 ruling that held it was unconstitutional to deny children a public education based on their immigration status.”

We like to think we are kinder and more civilized in America than we used to be in the days of slavery, Jim Crow, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, but I guess the Heritage Foundation feels comfortable taking us back to 1975, when Texas passed a law to deny undocumented children the right, enjoyed by all children in the United States, to a free public education.


East Allen County Schools teacher earns national honor

Excellent teaching here in our own neighborhood.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
When math teacher Dawn Baxter stepped inside a Paul Harding Junior High School room on Thursday morning, her confusion was evident when colleagues and students cheered her arrival while Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” played.

Principal Charles Washington quickly ended the suspense. With an arm around Baxter’s shoulders, the administrator said she was named a Math 180 Educator of the Year by learning technology company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“Seriously?” Baxter replied.

The recognition honors teachers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to their students’ growth inside and outside of the classroom using the company’s Math 180 intervention program.
**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.


Monday, May 6, 2024

In Case You Missed It – May 6, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column of our blog page to be informed when our blog posts are published.

"Former Education Secretary Betsy Devos has teamed up with billionaire trader and TikTok investor Jeff Yass to dismantle public education by spending tens of millions on state elections to pass charter and private school voucher bills." -- From Little Sis Public Accountability Initiative in Billionaires Yass, DeVos Team Up to Dismantle Public Schools Across the US.


Billionaires Yass, DeVos Team Up to Dismantle Public Schools Across the US

Betsy DeVos hasn't given up her dream of destroying public education in America. She's teamed up with TikTok investor Jeff Yass who is eager to help.

From Little Sis: Public Accountability Initiative
On a hot July day in Tampa at the 2022 Moms for Liberty Summit, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the crowd that the US Department of Education should be abolished. This claim – that the very department she recently led should not exist – earned her a standing ovation from the Moms for Liberty members in the room.

The moment highlights how extreme the right wing in the United States has veered on education policy. Newer groups like Moms for Liberty that demonize LGBTQ+ students, critical race theory, and COVID-19 protections as “wokeness gone too far” are not only breathing new life into Betsy DeVos’s long-standing efforts to privatize public education, but are also making education a top issue for the U.S. right wing. Billionaires like DeVos and grassroots groups like Moms for Liberty have come together to form what they call the “education freedom” movement.

But while the DeVos family has been a long time funder of the cause, in recent years the legislative efforts to demonize and defund public schools have been strengthened by another billionaire: Jeff Yass, the co-founder and Managing Director of Susquehanna International Group.


Ohio’s *School Vouchers for All*: Expanded, Expensive, but Not Audited

Vouchers don't help students. They divert public money from public schools to private, mostly religious, schools.

From deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog
EdChoice, Ohio’s school voucher program, is the subject of a lawsuit dating back to January 2022. Among other issues, the suit notes, “Due in large part to the hundreds of millions of dollars diverted to funding private school tuition through the EdChoice Program, the General Assembly has failed in its constitutional obligation to fully fund Ohio’s public school districts at the level which the General Assembly has, itself, determined to be required.”

Vouchers for All! Money for Public Schools? Well, um…
Since the time the suit was filed, the Ohio legislature has expanded the program such that families with annual incomes of 450% above the poverty line, or $135,000 for a family of four, are eligible for school voucher funds, but it doesn’t stop there: Even families exceeding the $135k/yr cap can receive a small percentage of school voucher funding– a move that arguably contributes to the shifting of school voucher money away from lower-income families and children of color to more affluent families and more white students. From the January 30, 2024, Ohio Capital Journal:
The lawsuit has been active for two years, after Vouchers Hurt Ohio, the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding, and five school districts around Ohio joined together to argue that the private school voucher program has become an disproportionately overgrown and flies in the face of the public school education established in Ohio’s constitution.


‘Chaplains’ for Christian Nationalism

Schools need counselors, not proselytizers. 

From A Public Witness
Lawmakers in 13 other states filed similar bills this year. Bills passed one chamber in both Indiana and Utah before dying for this year, while a bill in Oklahoma passed in the state House yesterday (April 24). Another such bill has passed the Senate in Louisiana and just had a committee hearing in the House yesterday.

This new legislative movement for “chaplains” in public schools started last year in Texas. After lawmakers passed a bill that required every school district to vote on whether or not to replace certified counselors with unlicensed “chaplains,” advocates like the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Interfaith Alliance, and Texas Impact mobilized chaplains and other religious leaders to campaign against local approvals. All 25 of the largest school districts voted against the “chaplaincy” program.

Despite the local organizing success to minimize the impact of the Texas bill, the proposal still inspired copycat bills this year (with even more states likely to consider it next year). As lawmakers debate such legislation, the concern about Satanists being allowed as chaplains popped up in multiple states, thus leading the activist and the governor to try and declare by fiat that such individuals wouldn’t qualify.


Indiana: Jennifer McCormick for Governor!!

Former Republican turned Democrat, Jennifer McCormick, is running for Governor of Indiana.

From Diane Ravitch
Indiana has plunged headlong into privatization of its-once-beloved public schools.

Fortunately, there is a knowledgeable candidate for Governor who has promised to stop the destruction of public education.

Jennifer McCormick is a career educator who began as a special education teacher, then became a language arts teacher, a principal and a district superintendent.

She was elected Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016; she ran as a Republican. She served out her four-year term and switched parties in 2021.

McCormick wrote on Twitter:
Indiana GOP’s school privatization efforts have diverted 1.6B of tax dollars away from public schools, and the majority of communities do not have families and/or private schools participating. As governor, I will champion for Indiana to pause funding school privatization.

State has chance to reverse its greatest educational error

An explanation about how a good public idea became a bad education policy.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Indiana is in the process of revamping its high school curricula. This could be a superb opportunity to rethink some fundamentals about schooling, its role in society and the needs of the future economy.

It is also a good time to recenter the long-term well-being of students into the discussion.

However, the last time Indiana made significant changes to school curriculum, we failed badly. That cannot happen again.

In December 2013, then-Gov. Mike Pence announced an ambitious plan to offer more career-focused education to Hoosier high school kids who weren’t going to college. It was a smart, thoughtful and much-needed addition to our educational landscape. I was an enthusiastic supporter.

Almost from the beginning, the execution of that plan was botched. It is worth recounting how a very good idea became very bad public policy, and how the accumulated mistakes of a decade continue to haunt Indiana’s economic performance even now and into the distant future.

The Mitch Daniels-era education reforms were successful on almost every important measure. The push for higher standards revealed itself in test scores, graduation rates, and college attendance and success. They strengthened good local public schools and forced bad ones to change.

But not everyone wishes to go to college and, for three generations, we’d cut programs for those students.

Northwest Allen County Schools honors top staffers

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Northwest Allen County Schools began announcing its top teachers and employees of the year Wednesday.

Matt Deckard, an instructional assistant at Carroll High School, was honored as a 2024 Staff Member of the Year. He was recognized for creating a dynamic learning environment for students through engaging storytelling and passion for his subject, a district news release said.

Jeb Campbell, a Carroll computer science teacher, was named a 2024 Teacher of the Year. He was honored for his dedication to guiding and fostering student growth, the release said.

Deckard and Campbell were nominated by NACS community members, such as students, parents and district employees.

The district plans to recognize six total employees by the end of the week.

Northwest Allen County school eyes addition of therapy dog

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A Northwest Allen County Schools principal is planning for a new co-worker – a therapy dog that will regularly visit the building to increase students’ empathy, self-esteem and sense of belonging, among other goals.

Courtney Bailey, who leads Cedar Canyon Elementary School, has been working to raise money to cover the training costs associated with the dog since the school board approved a new policy in January about animals on district property.

She told the school board last week that she has secured the $20,000 needed for training, and about $8,000 of that was ready for board approval April 22. Grants and business partnerships were among the funding sources for the training, she 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.