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.

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"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.


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