"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to School in America, 2018-2019 Indiana Edition

It's August and the back-to-school march has begun. In many cases, America's public school students are going to schools whose funding is at levels lower than a decade ago and whose teachers' chores have continued to expand. Indiana is one of those places.

It happens every year. The responsibilities of teachers and schools increase mostly from legislated mandates and "accountability."

Mr. Fitz, a teacher, author, and comic strip artist, listed his Top Ten Cognitive Dissonances That Give Teachers Headaches...things like,
Number 8: You should teach creatively, as long as you can be creative just like everybody else.
and
Number 5: You should promote love of learning for its own sake, but also push students to focus on getting grades, scoring well on tests, and collecting credits so they can get a diploma.
His number one cause of cognitive dissonance headaches is
You hear them say they want to hire and retain the best teachers, even as they create a system that drives the most passionate teachers out of the profession.


MORE WORK...

Increased responsibility -- often for things outside of a teacher's control -- lower salaries, lowered expectations of salary increases, less autonomy, insufficient building or classroom resources, lack of wraparound services and support, and larger class sizes, are only a few of the millions of tiny cuts contributing to a nation-wide teacher shortage.

Teachers are leaving the classroom...new teachers, experienced teachers. Here's what former teachers had to say about why they left teaching...from Florida...
I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process
...from here in Fort Wayne, IN
While [former Indiana Governor] Daniels promised that reform would bring good teachers higher pay, it never happened. Instead, great teachers perform unrealistic legislative mandates only to receive minuscule stipends. Years of experience? Higher education? Doesn’t matter. Since the teacher rubric model was implemented, teachers’ salaries stay around $35,000. Forever.
A teacher's paid work day is only 7 or 8 hours long...but for the vast majority of teachers, the workday doesn't begin when the students arrive, or end when they go home. Homework and after-hours work is part of everyday life for teachers. I have seen teachers stay at school 4 or 5 hours after the students leave, carry home hours of paperwork every night, or spend every weekend in their classroom, not trying to get ahead, but trying to keep up. I have been that teacher.

And each year the legislature adds something new...

Are Indiana school districts required to do too much?
"There's more and more and more put on the plate of the schools and eventually something has to give...said [TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback]...

"Our day hasn't increased, our school year hasn't increased but our requirements have increased," said [Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Les Huddle].
Teachers are overworked, and with the stagnation of school funding, underpaid. Is there any wonder why there's a teacher shortage?


...AND LESS PAY

Legislators in our state will quickly claim that "52% of the budget goes towards education spending."

Unfortunately, that 52% includes public school losses due to corporate tax incentives, the constitutional requirement of a property tax cap, and money being diverted from public schools to private and charter schools.

Since its inception in 2011, Indiana's voucher program has accounted for a half billion dollars of public money being taken away from the state's public schools...quite a lot for a program that was supposed to save money for the state.

When the voucher plan was first implemented then-Governor Mitch Daniels said,
Every child deserves an equal chance to be all they can be. Regardless of race, regardless of income, every child and every parent deserves an equal chance...
By "equal chance" Daniels was implying that public schools were "failing" and private schools were better...a falsehood then, and now.

Study: Learning loss persists for voucher students
“Although school vouchers aim to provide greater educational opportunities for students, the goal of improving the academic performance of low-income students who use a voucher to move to a private school has not yet been realized in Indiana,” the authors write.

Much news coverage last year of the preliminary results focused on the finding that voucher students regained the learning they lost. But that finding disappeared, Waddington and Berends said, as they fine-tuned their statistical analysis in response to suggestions from reviewers and editors at the academic journal.
In addition, public funds are now being spent by schools which are allowed to discriminate in hiring, blurring the separation of church and state...

Roncalli High School defends why a counselor would lose job over same-sex marriage
"As role models for students, the personal conduct of every teacher, guidance counselor and administrator and staff member, both at school and away from school, must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church," Roncalli officials posted on the school's official Facebook page Sunday night.
Should a private church school be allowed to choose who their teachers are based on their own standards and beliefs? If so, should they be allowed to use public tax dollars to do it? If not, shouldn't the state have something to say about how its money is spent? Mixing public money with religious schools seems to be damaging to both the church and the state.

Trying to support three separate school systems, a public one, serving 90% of the students in the state, and two private school systems through vouchers and charters, has made it difficult for Indiana to support schools and pay teachers. Can we really afford that?

Only one school system is mandated by the state constitution...the one that serves all students who enter -- no exceptions.


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