Monday, April 1, 2024

In Case You Missed It – April 1, 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.

NOTE: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It will not be published next week. Our bloggers will be traveling to experience the total solar eclipse passing through the United States and Indiana on April 8.

"Will professors of science be allowed to teach about climate change or evolution without giving equal time to “the other side?”

Will professors of American history be allowed to teach about the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow and institutional racism without introducing the Confederate point of view?"
-- Diane Ravitch in Indiana: New Law Requires Professors to Teach “Diverse” Views or Face Firing


Indiana: New Law Requires Professors to Teach “Diverse” Views or Face Firing

Will Indiana's college teachers be forced to teach right-wing propaganda?

From Diane Ravitch
Republicans have grown frustrated by their inability to get their views represented on college campuses, so they have grown more assertive in passing laws to ban ideas they don’t like (such as “critical race theory” or gender studies or diversity/equity/inclusion or “divisive concepts).

Indiana is imposing a different approach. Instead of banning what it does not like, the Legislature is requiring professors to teach different points of view.

The New York Times reports:

A new law in Indiana requires professors in public universities to foster a culture of “intellectual diversity” or face disciplinary actions, including termination for even those with tenure, the latest in an effort by Republicans to assert more control over what is taught in classrooms.

The law connects the job status of faculty members, regardless of whether they are tenured, to whether, in the eyes of a university’s board of trustees, they promote “free inquiry” and “free expression.” State Senator Spencer Deery, who sponsored the bill, made clear in a statement that this would entail the inclusion of more conservative viewpoints on campus.

The backlash to the legislation, which Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed March 13, has been substantial. Hundreds wrote letters or testified at hearings, and faculty senates at multiple institutions had urged the legislature to reject the bill, condemning it as government overreach and a blow to academic free speech.


Religious Charter Schools are Coming. Be Worried.

Public funds are being diverted from public schools to private religious schools. The anti-public school forces are expanding to include religious charter schools.

From Have You Heard Podcast
Last year Oklahoma approved the nation’s first tax-payer funded religious charter school. It won’t be the last, warns Rachel Laser of Americans United for Church and State. We’re joined by Laser and two plaintiffs in a legal effort to keep the school from opening. As our guests explain, the school is part of a larger project to roll back the clock on civil rights, disability rights and labor protections. Now for the good news: tearing down the separation between church and state turns out to be really unpopular.


Will Untenable Voucher Expansion Threaten Public School Funding in Ohio?

In Indiana, a family with an income not more than 400% of the amount to qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program can get a school voucher. That amount is more than $200,000 for a family of four.

Ohio residents beware. It won't stop...the dollars will continue to be diverted from public schools to religious schools.

From Jan Resseger
The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Laura Hancock reports this week that the enormous expansion of EdChoice vouchers in Ohio will bring the state’s investment in its five private school tuition voucher programs to at least a billion dollars by the end of Fiscal Year 2024 on October 1. In Ohio, a total of 152,118 students, according to Hancock’s data, now attend private schools using tax funded vouchers.

Ohio began offering private school vouchers to students in a relatively small program in Cleveland in 1996. Ohio now has five school voucher programs, one program for children with autism, another for students with disabilities, the original Cleveland program, and two statewide school voucher programs, including EdChoice Expansion by which any student can now qualify to carry public tax dollars to pay private school tuition.

This year, after the legislature expanded eligibility for EdChoice vouchers in the state budget—by raising the income qualification to include students with family income up to $135,000 and offering partial vouchers to students in families with income above $135,000—the number of students and the diversion of state tax dollars skyrocketed. Hancock explains: “As of March 18, state spending on all five scholarship programs was $980.4 million, with several months yet to go in the state’s fiscal year. ”


The Atlantic: Private Equity Eyes Child-Care Industry as Profit Center

As the research has built up on the value of early childhood education, more states are directing money toward expanding access. Wherever money flows, the private equity industry turns its gaze and seeks to do what it does best: privatize and profit. In this age, private equity figures out how to maximize profit from services that used to be public.

From Diane Ravitch
Private equity’s interest in child care has been growing in recent years. “While there has been corporate for-profit child care since the 1970s, private equity only got in starting in the early 2000s,” Elliot Haspel, a senior fellow who studies early childhood education at the nonpartisan think tank Capita, told me. Now four of the top five for-profit child-care chains—KinderCare, Learning Care Group, the Goddard School, and Primrose Schools—are controlled by private-equity funds, and private-equity-backed centers represent 10 to 12 percent of the market.

Private investors are intrigued by child care for the same reasons they became interested in nursing homes and other health-care services: intense demand, government money, and relatively low start-up costs. “Their goal is not long-term sustainability; their goal is to try to turn a profit,” Haspel said.

Private equity’s foray into child care could go a number of ways, but its introduction has largely not worked out well for other sectors—and certainly not for many people who rely on those sectors’ services. In his book, Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan to Pillage America, Brendan Ballou, who investigated private-equity firms at the Department of Justice, posits that the private-equity business model has three basic problems. First, these firms buy a business with the intention of flipping it for a profit, not long-term sustainability, meaning that they are trying to maximize value in the short term and are less likely to invest in staff or facilities. Second, they tend to load businesses up with debt and extract a lot of fees, such as charging child-care providers for the privilege of being managed by the firm. And perhaps most important, their business structure insulates firms from liability.


How About AI Lesson Plans?

Peter Greene warns teachers not to fall for the cheap and lazy artificial intelligence (AI) that designs lesson plans.

From Curmudgucation on Substack
Some Brooklyn schools are piloting an AI assistant that will create lesson plans for them.

Superintendent Janice Ross explains it this way. “Teachers spend hours creating lesson plans. They should not be doing that anymore.”

The product is YourWai (get it?) courtesy of The Learning Innovation Catalyst (LINC), a company that specializes in "learning for educators that works/inspires/motivates/empowers." They're the kind of company that says things like "shift to impactful professional learning focused on targeted outcomes" unironically. Their LinkedIn profile says "Shaping the Future of Learning: LINC supports the development of equitable, student-centered learning by helping educators successfully shift to blended, project-based, and other innovative learning models." You get the idea.

LINC was co-founded by Tiffany Wycoff, who logged a couple of decades in the private school world before writing a book, launching a speaking career, and co-founding LINC in 2017. Co-founder Jaime Pales used to work for Redbird Advanced Learning as executive director for Puerto Rico and Latin America and before that "developed next-generation learning programs" at some company.

Indiana officials propose new ‘streamlined’ high school diplomas for Hoosier students

If approved, there will be two main diploma paths. Each will have “flexible” options for “personalization” in grades 11 and 12.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
A proposal to streamline Indiana’s high school diplomas and reduce options to just two primary graduation paths was announced by state education officials on Wednesday.

The plan is part of an ongoing statewide effort to “reinvent” the high school experience and better prepare Hoosiers for their lives post-graduation — whether they want to pursue college or other skills training, or choose to directly enter the workforce.

The new options will take effect beginning with the Class of 2029 — for students that are currently in seventh grade. Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said some Hoosier schools will likely roll out the revamped graduation requirements sooner, though.

“How do we make the four years of high school as valuable as possible for students? What does that look like in a country where high school education has not changed, for most, in over 100 years? And yet the world around us, technology, is advancing — the world around us is changing,” Jenner said, noting that Indiana’s diploma has not been “significantly updated” since the late 1980s.


Southwest Allen County Schools plans pre-K program

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Southwest Allen County Schools is preparing to launch a pre-K class in August for 24 children living within the boundaries of its largest elementary school.

Startup costs are budgeted for $234,000 to $260,000 and include about $80,000 for equipment. The district hopes to offset expenses with partnerships, donations and grants, Superintendent Park Ginder said.

He brought the item to the school board for discussion last week. The administration wants the elected leaders to participate in the decision-making process because of the costs involved.

“We know that other districts run this program at a very big loss,” Ginder said after the March 19 meeting. “We also know there are other districts that have very, very large donors – six-figure donors, in some cases – that help pay for these opportunities.”

Ginder told the board he recommends launching the Covington Elementary School class – which would have one teacher and two aides – next academic year regardless of the outside funding secured.

**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, March 25, 2024

In Case You Missed It – March 25, 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.

"How do you build a world-class human? Well, you give him or her the benefits of a broad, humane, liberal arts education that confers judgment, wisdom, vision, and generosity. Greene shows us, from her own classes over three decades, exactly how that happens.

And she shows us how, under the “standards”-and-testing occupation, all that is being lost."
-- Bob Shepherd, quoted in Bob Shepherd: Gayle Green on How to Make a Human by Diane Ravitch.


Bob Shepherd: Gayle Green on How to Make a Human

The so-called "education reform" movement to privatize education has been decimating schools for more than two decades. Has it worked to improve student outcomes?

From Diane Ravitch
Bob Shepherd, author, editor, assessment developer, story-teller, and teacher, read a book that he loved. He hopes—and I hope—that you will love it too.

He writes:

Like much of Europe between 1939 and 1945, education in the United States, at every level, is now under occupation. The occupation is led by Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation and abetted by countless collaborators like those paid by Gates to create the puerile and failed Common Core (which was not core—that is, central, key, or foundational—and was common only in the sense of being vulgar. The bean counting under the occupation via its demonstrably invalid, pseudoscientific testing regime has made of schooling in the U.S. a diminished thing, with debased and devolved test preppy curricula (teaching materials) and pedagogy (teaching methods).

In the midst of this, Gayle Greene, a renowned Shakespeare scholar and Professor Emerita at Scripps University, has engaged in some delightful bomb throwing for the Resistance. Her weapon? A new book called Immeasurable Outcomes: Teaching Shakespeare in the Age of the Algorithm.


Hindu “Statesman” Will Move to Florida if DeSantis Signs the Bill to Let Him Guide Students

The founders chose to keep church and state separate. Using chaplains instead of counselors flies in the face of that basic American concept. States should fully fund schools so that qualified counselors can be hired.

A similar bill failed to pass in this year's Indiana General Assembly, but our guess is that it's not gone forever.

From Diane Ravitch
The Miami Herald reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to sign a bill that would allow chaplains to offer counseling in public schools, but one colorful religious figure says he is already eager to volunteer.

He’s a self-described “Hindu statesman” from Nevada who says he would like to bring “the wisdom of ancient Sanskrit scriptures” to students — perhaps not exactly what Florida lawmakers had in mind when they approved a bill that supporters tout as a way to make up for a shortage of mental health counselors in many schools.

The offer from Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, may amount to just his latest effort to raise his organization’s profile, but it also underlines concerns from critics. Mainly, that the bill’s vague definition of “counseling” will invite religious groups — whether they are Hindu, Christian or otherwise — to use it as a door to teaching their beliefs in secular school systems.

Will the U.S. Senate Waste this Year’s Opportunity to Reduce Child Poverty?

Child poverty is the number one cause of low student achievement in the US (and worldwide). No amount of scripted lessons, overuse, and misuse of testing, or insulting and demeaning educators will improve student outcomes. We've known this for years.

"...we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

As you read this post, you will see that there is one political party in the US that is more interested in providing tax breaks for businesses than helping poor children. Remember in November.

From Jan Resseger
One of three huge structural injustices for American children and their public schools—along with inadequate and unequally distributed school funding across the states and persistent economic and racial segregation—is our society’s outrageous level of child poverty. Right now Congress may squander a real opportunity to begin helping our society’s poorest children.

Although, on January 31, the U.S. House passed by a large margin a bipartisan compromise bill that would modestly increase the Child Tax Credit along with some business tax breaks that are a Republican priority, the bill has never been brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote.

Last week, the NY Times‘ Kayla Guo described the impasse and some of the politics: “A bipartisan bill to expand the Child Tax Credit and reinstate a set of business tax breaks has stalled in the Senate after winning overwhelming approval in the House, as Republicans balk at legislation they regard as too generous to low-income families. The delay of the $78 billion tax package has imperiled the measure’s chances and reflects the challenges of passing any major legislation in an election year. Enacting a new tax law would give President Biden and Democrats an achievement to campaign on, something that Republicans may prefer to avoid.”

The new bill to expand the Child Tax Credit is inferior to what was incorporated in the 2021, COVID relief, American Rescue Plan, which helped America’s poorest families by making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable to families without income or with such meager income that they don’t pay enough federal income taxes to cover the amount of the full Child Tax Credit. When Congress let that expansion of the Child Tax Credit expire at the end of 2021, U.S. child poverty increased by 41 percent.


Indiana schools get legislative green light to break up ILEARN testing throughout school year

The Indiana General Assembly offers some flexibility for schools.

From Indiana Capital Chronicle
An option for schools to divvy up portions of Indiana’s ILEARN exams was approved by state lawmakers at the end of the 2024 legislative session and will change how thousands of Hoosier students are tested.

The provision was included in House Enrolled Act 1243, an omnibus education bill filled with action items supported by the Indiana Department of Education.

The assessment plan includes what state education officials call “flexible checkpoints” for schools to administer ILEARN preparation tests in language arts and math before the typical end-of-year summative tests. A dozen other states already have similar models.

Based on a plan approved by the Indiana’s State Board of Education last summer, the “checkpoints” will consist of 20 to 25 questions and hone in on four to six state standards. The exams are designed to be administered to students about every three months, but local schools and districts can speed up testing if they wish.
**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, March 18, 2024

In Case You Missed It – March 18, 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.

"Believing the pandemic brought harmful policy shifts, causing school quality to decline, [Hanushek] sees abandoning standardized test accountability as number one on his pantheon of bad moves. Teachers unions pushing for their preferred education policies seems wrong to Hanushek. After all, what do teachers know about good education? They are not trained MIT economists, like he is!

"...Learning-loss is not the big danger facing America’s students. The real danger is the likes of McKinsey, NWEA, CREDO and research leaders like Eric Hanushek."
-- Tom Ultican in Subterfuge and Learning Loss Baloney.


School Ratings and Rankings Cause Educational Redlining and Resegregation

Children, teachers, and schools are more than just the sum of their test scores.

From Jan Resseger
Having attended school in a small Montana town, where we all went to the same middle school and high school, and having parented two children who attended our neighborhood elementary and middle school and came together at our community’s only high school here in a Cleveland, Ohio inner suburb, I prefer the old and more radical solution to the whole problem of school choice driven by metrics published in the newspaper or school report cards. In fact, for the majority of families in the United States, neighborhood schools are still the norm. A system of neighborhood schools embodies the idea that parents’ responsibility is to help their children embrace the opportunities at the school where they are assigned.

As parents when my children were in elementary school, we used the PTA meetings as places to strategize about how we could better support innovations and special programs to make school more fun and challenging for all the students. A district-wide school support agency in our community provides a tutoring program for students who need extra help, and there is a community supported, district-wide music camp for a week in June when the high school orchestra director and his staff, along with a raft of graduates from the high school music program, help students from across the middle schools to prepare for joining the high school band and orchestra. People from across the school district turn out for the concert that culminates the summer music camp.

This kind of community involvement connects parents with the community’s public schools in a qualitative way. When people engage personally with a school, the teachers and the students, parents can learn so much more about a school than any metric can expose.


Subterfuge and Learning Loss Baloney

There is a widespread panic over "learning loss" from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tom Ultican talks us off the ledge...

From Tultican
Crazy pants Eric Hanushek claims COVID “learning-loss” could cost American students $31 trillion in future earnings. He burst onto the education world’s consciousness with his 1981 paper, claiming “there is no relationship between expenditures and the achievement of students and that such traditional remedies as reducing class sizes or hiring better trained teachers are unlikely to improve matters.” This played well with billionaires from the Walton family but had no relationship with reality. Likewise, his January 2024 “learning-loss” claims were straight up baloney.

Learning-Loss Reality

In the summer and fall of 2020, NWEA, McKinsey, CREDO and others produced unfounded analysis of looming learning-loss disaster caused by school closures. Since there was no data, summer learning-loss was used as a proxy, a bad one. In 2019, Paul von Hippel’s investigation threw great doubt on the 1982 Baltimore study that powerfully supported summer learning-loss belief. He showed using modern testing analysis, learning-loss was doubtful and in some cases, students gained during the summer. This data, used to trumpet a national education crisis, had no validity.

Unfortunately, billionaire-financed organizations, out to undermine public schools, do not care.


John Thompson: The Failure of “Fixing” Schools by Closing Them

Did school closures help students learn?

From Diane Ravitch
John Thompson, historian and retired teacher in Oklahoma, explains what happened when “reformers,” led by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, advocated for school closures.

He writes:

When non-educators watch Abbott Elementary, the television comedy, they are likely to find it hilarious, but I suspect it takes a teacher to fully understand the accuracy of its portrayal of the weird corporate reforms imposed on Philadelphia schools. But, recent research helps explain why many of even the most fervent advocates for test-driven, competition-driven school turnarounds now acknowledge their failures (even though they don’t apologize for them.).

The third-year premiere of Abbott gave a shout out to the respected journal, Chalkbeat. And, Chalkbeat is again reporting on failed turnarounds in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and elsewhere, as well as why former supporters of school takeovers are repudiating the reward-and-punish method for rapid, transformative change.

Chalkbeat analyzed the Philadelphia mandate, the 2010 Renaissance Initiative. It “strove to turn around about 10% of Philadelphia’s low-performing district schools by ceding them to charter organizations that promised to do better.” By 2023, however, “the Renaissance charter schools as a group mostly performed worse in standardized tests for elementary and middle schoolers than the district averages.”

Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First explained, “The goal was to prove that charters would work with any kid, not just about parents who were highly motivated to enter a lottery, and to show that a neighborhood school turned over to a charter organization would do better than if run by the school district.” But, “As far as I can tell, the data didn’t result in that.”


Kentucky: GOP Passes Bill to Nullify Parts of State Constitution to Allow Vouchers

From Diane Ravitch
State Senator Tina Bojanowski, teacher and legislator (@TinaforKentucky), tweeted:

KY House passes HB2, a bill to change our Constitution to allow vouchers and charters by creating an amendment that allows future legislation to disregard SEVEN sections of our Constitution. @kyhousedems


Fort Wayne Community Schools takes 'giant step forward' with planned early childhood center

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Fort Wayne Community Schools’ quest to build an early childhood center on the city’s southeast side marked a milestone this week that should fuel the district’s fundraising efforts for the $14.7 million project.

The school board on Monday approved options to purchase two adjacent parcels totaling 3.5 acres at the northeast intersection of Queen Street and Werling Drive near McMillen Park from the city of Fort Wayne Department of Redevelopment and Village Premier LP.

The 26,700-square-foot facility will be part of Village Premier, a multiphase mixed-use project that broke ground last year, said Joe Giant, the city’s redevelopment administrator. He told the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission on Monday afternoon that the early childhood center will help combat the lack of child care in the city’s southeast quadrant.

Fort Wayne Community Schools prepares weapons detection expansion

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Fort Wayne Community Schools board agreed Monday to spend $1.4 million on weapons detection systems, but the district likely won’t expand its security screenings to every middle and high school until next academic year.

That’s because the Ceia Opengate weapons detection systems likely won’t be ready until late this academic year, said Matt Schiebel, executive director of safety and community partnerships.

Implementation is also dependent on having student advocates in place, because the devices require additional personnel, he said, referring to a new staff position funded by the Safer FWCS referendum.

FWCS piloted the weapons screening device at South Side High School, where no guns have been found this year, Schiebel 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.