"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, December 23, 2020

You don't know what you've got till it's gone...


Have you tried schooling them at home during the pandemic? For most people, it hasn't been as easy as they thought it would be. Never mind the fact that the only people who are helping their kids at home are those who can afford to stay home, or who can work from home, or who have been laid off so they're home anyway. Many parents and caregivers have found that a well-trained teacher, who understands curriculum and child development is a luxury that we didn't know we needed till it was gone.
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.
And it's going to get worse no matter who the next U.S. Secretary of Education is because Indiana's public school policy is determined by the Indiana legislature along with the Indiana State Board of Education...
The pandemic is causing teachers to flee the profession
Our public education system may be on the verge of collapse. Indeed, most families with children enrolled in public school find patchwork systems of in-person and virtual instruction underwhelming at best. Teachers are overwhelmed and unable to keep stitching it together. Something has to give, and without an infusion of urgently needed resources and some moral support from families and politicians, that something could be a mass exodus of teachers that our schools cannot afford to lose.

...In an ongoing wave of calls this fall a single theme has dominated — teachers are stressed and overwhelmed and, as one expressed, the profession is "teetering on the edge of a massive, massive shortage." In small, rural and large urban districts, leaders tell us that teachers are retiring, questioning their commitment to the profession, and just leaving the job. In many districts there were teacher shortages before the pandemic. Unfilled vacancies create additional burden as those who show up are forced to pick up the slack. Union leaders have told us they don't know if they'll ever recover, and huge shortages encourage fears that this "may be the final collapse of public education," said one leader from an urban district in the Midwest.

We've already been living with a teacher shortage in Indiana and around the nation. There's this from 2019...this from 2018...and 2017...2016...2015...

And it goes back further. The shortage has been steadily growing...in Indiana from the time of Mitch Daniels and his attack on public schools in 2011 (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and even before with cuts to education funding, declining teacher salaries, and increasing funds for privatization.

Pay increase for teachers priority over tuition grant
The panel's 37 recommendations for raising teacher pay all have some merit. But FWCS' Steve Corona, one of the state's longest-tenured school board members, offered another: Reduce the amount of tax money sent to private and parochial schools as vouchers.

...He's right. The cost of Indiana's voucher entitlement program grew by 924% in just seven years, from $15.5 million in 2011-12 to $158.8 million in 2018-19. More than 25% of voucher recipients come from households earning $75,000 a year or more. More than 7% of the students come from households earning $100,000-plus.
All that money going to private schools...and now, the threat from the legislature is that the best Indiana public schools can hope for is that there will be no cuts...

State officials should act now on school funding
Two days after a high-level commission said Indiana needs to find $600 million a year to boost teacher salaries, legislative leaders sounded a different note. Schools, they said, should be grateful if their funding isn’t cut.

“The way today is playing out, a flatline is a win, even in K-12, when other states are making drastic cuts,” said Sen. Ryan Mishler, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, responding to a state revenue forecast.
This...from a state with a constitutional mandate to fund public education (while there's none that requires funding for private and privately run schools).

Teachers are leaving...and those who are staying are stressed out. Without much leadership from the state or federal government school systems are having to piece together ways to help their teachers provide instruction to the students they serve. Teachers are having to learn how to teach "pandemic-style" on their own. There isn't enough access to PPE to go around. There are connectivity problems for schools teaching online. Administrators are scrambling to staff classes, help their teachers cope with the changes all while trying to find missing students.

Meanwhile nationally, about two-thirds of teachers are dissatisfied with the decisions made about teaching by their district, and four-fifths of them are expressing fears of burn-out.

Becoming a competent teacher requires years of study...of curriculum development, child development, teaching methods, learning theory, and classroom management. Any career teacher will tell you it's not as easy as it looks. You can't just "become a teacher" because you sat in classrooms throughout your childhood. You can't just "become a teacher" with five weeks of summer camp.

Who is going to teach our children when the pandemic is over. Where will the teachers come from to fill the classes for our grandchildren and nieces and nephews? How are we going to assure that the teachers have the training they need?


For the past two decades, including the 2020 election, Indiana voters have consistently chosen state and local candidates who do not seem to understand (or care) that the future of the state's survival depends on the quality of our public schools. The quality of our public schools depends on the ability to hire and keep competent teachers.

Sadly, like climate change, masks, and now vaccines, support for public education has become a political litmus test. If you're a Republican you're supposed to support privatization even while your children, your business, and your community depend on the public school system. That has to change. Pay attention to what happens in Indianapolis during the 2021 legislative session. Keep in touch with your state representative and senator. Chances are you don't pay them as much as their corporate sponsors, but if enough of us vote with our mouths, emails, and letters, they will listen.

If they don't listen...if they continue to shortchange and punish public education, the damage to public schools and public school teachers could be fatal. There will come a time when we will miss the teachers of our childhood. We'll wonder where all the well-trained teachers have gone. We'll wax nostalgically about the great schools of the past. If we don't change our voting patterns...and recognize that public education supports the economic and social health of the state...we will lose a foundational institution of our democracy.
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.


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