Monday, June 24, 2024

In Case You Missed It – June 24, 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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"...we already have school choice and always have. We have a requirement in most states that each child must get some sort of education, but how the child gets that education is a parent's choice. Public, private, parochial, religious, home-- you can choose the school you want. But that's not what modern choicers mean by school choice.

Instead, they use the term "school choice" as a blanket term to cover a whole bunch of ideas that are not actually school choice.

Instead, "school choice" refers to a constellation of policies aimed at directing taxpayer dollars into the pockets of private operators."
-- Peter Greene at Curmudgucation in Stop Calling It School Choice


Moms on a Mission

How the Right Exploits ‘Moms’ to Privatize Education

From The Progressive
Moms are allegedly at the center of a rightwing campaign attacking public schools and advocating for school vouchers. The latest entry in the “moms space” is called Moms on a Mission, which the organization’s website reveals is an offshoot of the Betsy DeVos-controlled American Federation for Children (AFC).

Moms on a Mission joins the better-known Moms for Liberty (M4L), which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as an extremist group. Yet while M4L and similar groups have tried to depict themselves as a grassroots movement, Moms on a Mission doesn’t hide the fact it is a masquerade for billionaire privatization schemes and Republican politics.

Betsy DeVos has long been affiliated with rightwing Christian campaigns to decimate public schools and redirect funds to voucher programs, charter schools, or religious schools. She was former President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education, but at M4L’s 2022 national summit, she called for the abolition of that very department.

The debut of Moms on a Mission was announced in an email from AFC’s National Director of Communications Strategy, Elizabeth BeShears. BeShears previously worked at Americans for Prosperity, Charles Koch’s dark money nonprofit. Koch and DeVos are political allies on education.

In 2018, Koch announced a move into K-12 politics, with a billionaire compatriot describing it as the “lowest hanging fruit.” Nicole Neily, another Koch operative, runs M4L’s close ally Parents Defending Education, which supports book bans and opposes the factual teaching of racism and school policies to ensure all students feel welcome.

DeVos’s influence entirely depends on her wealth...

Taxpayers funding private schools

Christian Nationalists Are Opening Private Schools. Taxpayers Are Funding Them.

From Mother Jones
...In addition to its thrumming weekly worship sessions and its blockbuster events, the church has another project: Dream City Christian Academy. The K-12 private school, which serves nearly 800 students, is part of Turning Point USA’s Turning Point Academy program, a network of 41 schools that describes itself as “an educational movement that exists to glorify God and preserve the founding principles of the United States through influencing and inspiring the formation of the next generation.” Dream City Christian Academy promises to “Protect our campus from the infiltration of unethical agendas by rejecting all ‘woke’ and untruthful ideologies being pushed on students.”

This politically charged approach to education likely isn’t for everyone—and because it’s a private school, it doesn’t have to be. Except for one thing: Dream City Christian Academy is one of a growing number of religious schools that are supported by public funds.

In 2022, Arizona became the first state in which all students are allowed to use state vouchers to cover a portion of tuition at any private school, secular or religious. Through Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, each participating family receives about 90 percent of the money the state would have spent on the child’s public school education—around $7,000 per student per year—for private school tuition. For the 2024-2025 school year, the Dream City Christian Academy annual tuition ranges from $10,450 in elementary school to $13,999 in high school—so families of the school’s nearly 800 students can use state funds to pay for between half and two-thirds of their tuition bill. Dream City Christian Academy received almost $1 million in tuition voucher money last year, the Arizona Republic recently reported.
It's not a choice

Stop Calling It School Choice

From Peter Greene at Curmudgucation
When framing a debate, it helps to pick just the right names. Just ask the folks who decided to call their respective sides "pro-life" and "pro-choice."

One of earliest victories for education privatizers was to coin the name "school choice." I don't know if somebody cleverly designed and tested it, or they just sort of stumbled over it, but it's a handy piece of coinage.

The Google Ngram for American English shows barely in use up through the mid-1980s, when it suddenly rocketed up the charts (aka immediately after the release of A Nation at Risk, A Nation at Risk, the Reagan era hit job on public education). That peak comes at 2001, then a steady drop since that year.

I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of those instances are actually a misuse of the term. Because the privatization and reformster movements have got us using "school choice" to mean what it does not mean.

Crossing the line

Louisiana Requires “10 Commandments” in Every Public School Classroom

From Diane Ravitch
Louisiana became the first state to enact a law requiring that the “Ten Commandments” be displayed in every public school classroom. Others have proposed such laws, but they didn’t pass. Governor Jeff Landry, who is Catholic, signed the law in a Catholic school, which is somewhat strange since the law applies only to public schools.

The New York Times reports that the bill is part of a larger agenda to turn the U.S. into an explicitly Christian nation. Despite the fact that the Founders wrote extensively against religion controlling the state and said in the Constitution that there could be no religious test for office-holders, the religious right continues to shove their religion—and only their religion—on everyone else

NACS proposes 9th elementary school, natatorium, and more in 10-year plan

On Thursday, Northwest Allen County Schools (NACS) met to discuss their strategic ten-year plan.

The NACS Senior Leadership Team presented the plan to the NACS Board of School Trustees, highlighting various projects to address the district’s growing population.

A new elementary school was suggested during the meeting. This would be the ninth elementary school in NACS.

“Right now, we’re at 86.1% capacity at all of our elementary schools,” NACS Superintendent Wayne Barker said. “The optimum operating capacity we’ve been told for a long time by demographers and those that work in schools is you really only want to be around 85% capacity. Because once that happens the demands on people and challenges for student learning become much more complicated.”

SACS Board of Trustees officially approves district’s superintendent pick

Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) will officially have its new superintendent at the helm starting July 1.

The SACS Board of Trustees unanimously approved Kent DeKoninck as SACS’ new superintendent during the district’s school board meeting Tuesday evening.

Tuesday night, WANE 15 spoke with DeKoninck after the meeting, about how he is committed to the district and the district’s needs...

Democrat Jennifer McCormick taps former Indiana Rep. Terry Goodin for lieutenant governor

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
...“I’ve traveled to many parts of the state in the last two years, and I was troubled by what I saw. In county after county, small towns and small cities seem to be going out of business,” Goodin said. “Unfortunately, the current leadership in our state seems to be okay with this as they have implemented no real policies that will rebuild our small communities, our rural communities … We can do better than that in Indiana, folks.”

He said change starts with education reforms, creating more union jobs and ensuring Hoosiers get “equal pay for equal work.”

“This race we’re getting ready to undertake is between those who have a vision for a great future for our state, or those who simply want to be stuck in the past,” he said.
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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