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.

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"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.


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