"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

Friday, August 25, 2023

2023 Medley #1 - Shortages, Textbooks and Names

Teacher Shortage, Free Textbooks,
Student Names

NATIONAL: Our first two articles cover the national teacher shortage. How are schools coping? What are states doing to make it easier to become a teacher? Are those plans producing well-trained teachers?

Sadly, nowhere to be found is a discussion of why there is a national teacher shortage. Why are teachers leaving the profession in large numbers?
The result is that schools are struggling to find qualified educators...and states are coming up with ways to lower standards for teachers.

Teacher shortages have gotten worse. Here’s how schools are coping.
Evidence suggests that more teachers are leaving the profession. In the suburbs of Washington, many large suburban districts in Maryland and Virginia saw teacher turnover above pre-pandemic levels. An analysis of teacher retention data by the education news outlet Chalkbeat found that turnover rates were the highest they had been in at least five years in eight different states. Nguyen’s team, examining teacher turnover data from 34 states with the help of the National Center on Teacher Quality, found that it rose to a historic 14 percent during the 2021-2022 school year.

Nearly a quarter of teachers surveyed by the RAND Corporation in January said they planned to leave by the end of last school year, citing stress, low pay and long hours. The survey also showed that their well-being had improved from 2021 and 2022 levels.

Plagued by Teacher Shortages, Some States Turn to Fast-Track Credentialing
The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s largest teachers union, in a 2022 report called for more rigor in teacher training, not less, criticizing state efforts to lower the qualifications needed to be a teacher.

“[T]here are more alternative and nontraditional ways to become a teacher in the U.S. than ever before, and unfortunately many of them are low quality,” the report said.

The teachers union stressed methods that are reflected in traditional training, saying aspiring teachers should get “extensive” classroom experiences “alongside a skilled practitioner over a significant period,” and “a strong foundation in subject-area content.”

“We cannot put a bandage on the teacher and school staff shortage by cutting corners and lowering the bar for entry,” the report said.


No more school textbook bills for Indiana parents — but what other fees can still be charged?

INDIANA: A well-thought-out piece of legislation should contain details and cover all situations. This one doesn't.

The law in Indiana now provides for school districts to cover textbook costs, something that parents used to pay for. This is a good idea, but the Republicans, in their stupidity lack of foresight, have neglected to fully fund the program so schools are scrambling to find money to cover books, supplies, and all the other things they need to continue to function.

Will the legislature fully fund public schools? Not likely considering that nearly everyone in the state is now eligible for a private school voucher...and the fact that at least one candidate for Governor has called for cutting Indiana's income tax.

Indiana hasn't been all that generous with tax dollars for public education, passing a huge increase for private school vouchers (72% increase) and a smaller, but large increase for charter schools (16% increase), while actual public schools were lucky enough to garner a 5% increase. Where will the state get the money to fund three school systems (only one of which -- the public schools -- is mandated in the state constitution) without an income tax?
While the new law was championed by state officials, school districts are left trying to figure out what they have to cover and what they don’t — especially when it comes to advanced classes and career development courses.

There’s no consensus yet for what types of fees are still being charged by individual Indiana schools and districts. Some contacted by the Indiana Capital Chronicle said they had totally eliminated all education-related fees — at least for the current school year.

Other district officials said they interpreted the new curriculum law differently and will continue to bill parents for certain college-level course materials and school management software...

The law itself is somewhat vague...


Indiana law on student names and pronouns leaves tough decisions to families and schools

INDIANA: The law (as of July 1) now requires schools to get parental permission to address students by a name other than what appears on their birth certificate. Does this mean that Andrew can't be called Andy? Or Susan can't be called Susie? Sadly, the law is vague and schools are confused about what can and cannot be allowed.

The idea behind the law, according to Todd Rokita (Indiana Attorney General) is that parents have the right to be involved in the upbringing of their children. This law would prohibit a child from deciding on a name (or pronoun) that doesn't traditionally identify with their birth gender. It's all about parental rights...or perhaps it's about making it harder for trans kids to be recognized in the classroom.

The same group of legislators (the super-majority of Republicans) also voted to usurp parental rights by banning gender-affirming care for children under 18, even if parents want it.

Is the legislature interested in "fighting for the right of parents to handle the upbringing of their children," or are they interested in making life difficult for trans kids and their families? The answer is obvious.
HEA 1608 was one of several laws Indiana legislators passed this year aimed at restricting how and when transgender youth could transition socially and medically. Proponents say it gives parents more information about their children at school — part of an argument for increased parental oversight in education that has swept conservative states.

“We’re going to fight for the right of parents to handle the upbringing of their children,” said Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita at a recent press conference in reference to such laws.

But opponents of the new law said outing transgender students to their parents could put some at risk of physical harm or homelessness if their families aren’t supportive. (The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana challenged HEA 1608 in court by focusing on another aspect of the law that prohibits teaching human sexuality in grades K-3.)

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