Monday, November 12, 2012

Petition to Support Public Education in Indiana

Some folks have started a petition to ask the governor and legislature to acknowledge that Glenda Ritz, the Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect was elected to change the plan which Tony Bennett has been pushing in Indiana.

Click HERE to sign the petition.

Here's the content:
Indiana voters elected Glenda Ritz as our new Superintendent of Public Instruction by a large margin. She received roughly 1,300,000 votes--about 100,000 more votes than the governor-elect, Mike Pence. Now, however, Governor Daniels refuses to acknowledge that our election of Glenda Ritz sent a clear message on the direction of school reform, saying instead: "The consensus and momentum for reform and change in Indiana is rock solid." Governor-elect Mike Pence is also choosing to interpret the election results as a "strong affirmation on the progress of education reform in this state," (Journal Gazette 11/8/12). On the contrary: when Indiana voters elected Glenda Ritz as superintendent, we rejected the top-down, corporate reform model imposed by the state. We embraced Ritz's platform and her research-backed proposals to support and improve our public schools.

Petition Letter

Dear Governor, Indiana Legislators and D.O.E. Board,

Indiana voters elected Glenda Ritz as Superintendent of Public Instruction by a large margin. She received roughly 1,300,000 votes--about 100,000 more votes than the governor-elect, Mike Pence. We call upon Governor Daniels, future governor Mike Pence, the D.O.E. Board, and our legislature to respect voters' clear message on the direction of public education in Indiana. We affirm our support for our candidate and her platform:

"More time to education, less time to testing" The use of high-stake testing to judge children, schools, and communities harms the process of teaching and learning.

"More control to local school districts to implement state and federal standards" Local schools need resources and support, not rigid dictates.

"Clear the barriers to quality vocational education" Schools must be given the flexibility to support a vibrant curriculum for high school students' vocational interests.

"Make teacher licensing and evaluation standards top in the nation" All children should be taught by qualified instructors. Effective teacher preparation programs are vital, and teacher licensing should be based upon comprehensive, effective teacher preparation.

"Stop the flow of public tax dollars to private education companies running take-over schools"

We believe public tax dollars belong in public schools. All school districts in Indiana deserve equitable funding.

The vote for Glenda Ritz is a mandate for the protection of the child's constitutional right to a free, high-quality public education as articulated in Article 8, Section 1 of the Indiana State Constitution, funded by tax dollars.

[Your name]
And here's another one which seems to be specifically directed at supporters of Mike Pence, the Indiana Governor-elect.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

FWCS Seeks Input on School Choice

Krista J. Stockman
Public Information Officer
Fort Wayne Community Schools
Phone: 260.467.2022
Fax: 260.467.1980
We Are Your Schools

FWCS Seeks Input on School Choice

Fort Wayne Community Schools is reaching out to parents and community members to better understand what influences their decisions when choosing a school for their children.

A School Choice Survey will be launched Wednesday, Nov. 7, to gather feedback about numerous factors, including awareness of school choice options and the priority given to school environment, school success and the availability of student support services.

“We understand that parents have many choices — both within Fort Wayne Community Schools and outside of the District —when deciding where to send their children to school,” said Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson. “We also recognize and appreciate that parents know their children’s educational needs best and put much thought into their final decision. This survey will help us better understand the factors that lead to those decisions.”

Working once again with independent research and communication firm K12 Insight, the survey is accessible through a link on the YourVoice section of the District’s website at All answers are strictly confidential. Last year, the district partnered with K12 Insight on community-wide surveys focusing on aging school facilities and how best to direct funds from the FWCS Foundation.

Parents who have provided the district with their e-mail addresses will receive e-mail invitations to participate, but the survey is open to everyone in the FWCS community. Those interested in participating may provide their e-mail addresses through the Your Voice portal to ensure receipt of future surveys. Parents will be invited to participate in the survey this week while attending Parent-Teacher Conferences. Parents without computer access will be allowed to use computers at their child’s school at other times as well. Others without Internet access can visit a branch of the Allen County Public Library for access. Residents may also call the school district at467-2020 to request a paper copy of the survey. The goal is to ensure community-wide participation and feedback.

The survey closes on Friday, Nov. 30. The District will use the results of the survey as a basis for discussion in public work sessions conducted by the FWCS Board of School Trustees.

“Fort Wayne Community Schools is proud of our policy allowing students to attend any school in the district, based on space availability,” Robinson said. “Each of our schools strives to offer quality instruction, innovative programs and student support systems to create the best learning environment possible for every student. And for those parents who have chosen to send their children to schools outside of the district, their honest input will greatly help us understand where we need to focus our efforts so that we can best achieve our goal of being every family’s school system of choice.”

With nearly 32,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is Indiana's second-largest school district. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 51 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NEIFPE Supports Glenda Ritz

For Immediate Release

October 23, 2012


Northern Indiana Education Advocacy Group Backs Glenda Ritz for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Public Education supporters concerned over negative impact of high-stakes testing, vouchers, charter schools, and teacher evaluations.

FORT WAYNE, IN – Citing strong and growing concern over the negative impact the corporatization of Indiana’s educational system is having on public education in Indiana, members of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) today announced their support of Glenda Ritz for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Formed earlier this year, NEIFPE is a group of citizens, teachers, administrators and parents who are united by their support for public education and by concerns for its future.

The group believes that Glenda Ritz is the best candidate to refocus Indiana’s educational efforts toward students and learning rather than corporate interests. NEIFPE finds that recent federal and state reform measures that have turned education over to private interests threaten the well-being of children and jeopardize their futures.

The group supports Ritz, who has taken a stand against high-stakes testing and is committed to providing more time for education and less time for testing in Indiana.

For additional information visit, or

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2005

Caldecott Medal, 2005

Kitten’s first Full Moon was written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. This is his thirty-fourth book and has a very different look from his others with illustrations in colored pencils and gouache (opaque water colors). Kitten’s first adventure is trying to climb to the moon, thinking it is a bowl of milk. And the adventures continue … With a minimum of words and large pictures this is a perfect book for preschoolers.

Newbery Medal, 2005

Kira-Kira was written by Cynthia Kadohata and is the story of a Japanese family who moves from Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia. Written from the perspective of Katie, we learn about older sister Lynn, younger brother Sam and both parents who work in a chicken hatchery. The wise older sister Lynn (who taught Katie that “kira-kira” is the sky because its color is deep but see-through at the same time, just like the sea, just like people’s eyes) becomes very ill and life for this family changes again. This story is sad but very thoughtful. It is one you will not soon forget.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saving Public Education: Get the Facts

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) will hold a meeting on Thursday, October 4th at 7 p.m. in meeting room C of the downtown public library. The subject of the meeting is "Saving Public Education: Get the Facts." All those interested in preserving public schools for our children are welcome.

Allen County Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne Indiana 46802
(260) 421-1200

Get Directions

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 1993

Caldecott Medal, 1993

Mirette On the High Wire was written and illustrated by popular artist Emily Arnold McCully. It is the story of Mirette who learns tightrope walking from Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother’s boardinghouse. The illustrations convey the height of Mirette crossing the courtyard and Bellini crossing Niagara Falls. It is the story of a young girl who learns from a master and how she, the student, gave him the courage he lost during one of his tightrope accidents.

Newbery Medal, 1993

Missing May was written by Cynthia Rylant. The illustrated cover conveys so well what happens in this story. May and Ob are an elderly couple who live in a trailer and adopt Summer when she is six years old. After another six years May dies while tending her garden. The cover shows May and Ob and a friend Cletus looking toward the sky. They are looking for a sign from May who has meant so much to both Ob and Summer. Will May somehow send a message to them? This is a sad, lovely book with a happy ending.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 1988

Caldecott Medal, 1988

Owl Moon was written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr and for those pictures it was given the Caldecott Medal. This is a quiet story – for as Pa says, “If you go owling you have to be quiet” – about a walk in the woods on a cold, “snowy white night.” The words convey quiet and respect which the watercolor illustrations support beautifully. This is a special book, a classic really, and ought to be in every child’s library. Hint: Read this book in the dark with a flashlight.

Newbery Medal, 1988

Lincoln: A Photobiography was written by Russell Fieldman and is a short (131 pages) story of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Nearly half of the pages in this book are filled with photos and illustrations about Lincoln’s life. This is a very readable history/biography book that tells and shows how Lincoln grew and changed. The photos that show the assassination and the crowds during all the funeral services are especially poignant. This is a fascinating way to introduce history to young readers.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 1984

Caldecott Medal, 1984

The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blerot was written by Alice and Martin Provensen. This true story happened in 1909 – eighteen years before Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Told with vivid illustrations and lots of humor this book tells how Louis Bleriot learned to fly a glider, then an aeroplane across the English channel in just thirty-seven minutes. A sweet story!

Newbery Medal, 1984

Dear Mr. Henshaw is another popular book by Beverly Cleary. This is a book of letters (one letter per page) written by a boy named Leigh whose truck-driver
Dad left his family. Mr. Henshaw and Leigh are both writers (Mr. Henshaw is a published author whose books Leigh has read.) who become friends as they write to one another. Quick read – Leigh is in middle school but even third graders would enjoy this book.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Friday, June 1, 2012

June is Netsafety Month

As the school year winds down and kids begin their summer vacation, they tend to spend more time online. The month of June is National Internet Safety Month, when educators and parents can learn how to keep kids safe online and teach how to use online technology responsibly.

To learn more, visit these web sites.

This web site from NEA's Health Information Network (HIN), in partnership with Sprint, provides tools for adults to help kids connect safely. Educators and parents also can subscribe to the bimonthly e-newsletter offering the latest news and resources on Internet safety.


Sprint opens the lines of communication about Internet safety. The program was created in partnership with NEA's Health Information Network (HIN).


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2012

Caldecott Medal, 2012

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is the 2012 Caldecott winner. This delightful, wordless picture book shows Daisy the dog playing happily with her bright red ball with her friend – another dog. Then the ball pops. The ending is sweet and is a true glimpse into the friendship of two dogs – maybe all of us. I “read” this book to a class of four-year olds. They were fascinated. Me too!

Newbery Medal, 2012

Dead-End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos is this year’s Newberry winner. This young adult book is set in the small town of Norvelt. It is a story of old people dying, and eccentric Miss Volker writing their obituaries. Jack is the narrator, who loves to read and loves to help Miss Volker by typing all those obituaries. This feels like a book for a middle-school student.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Friday, May 18, 2012

Parents Across America Action Alert

This, from Parents Across America...

PAA Action Alert

Tell your congresspeople: Parent "choice" is not parent voice

On Wednesday of this week, a House education subcommittee held a hearing, supposedly on parent engagement. It is clear, though, that House leaders narrowly define parent engagement as choice using charters, parent trigger laws and vouchers.

You can read PAA's response here. We sent letters detailing our concerns to subcommittee chair Rep. Duncan Hunter and members of the House and Senate education committees.

PAA believes (and polls agree) that most parents want better schools in their own communities, not more school closings and privatization. But our voices need to be heard in Washington, D.C., where they "choose" to listen to charter operators and other corporate reformers, not parents.

So, we're asking you to e-mail your U.S. representative and senators with a quick message. Put "Parent choice is not parent voice" in the subject line and, for the message, write something like this: "As a parent, I do not choose privatization, charter schools, vouchers, or trigger laws. I expect you, my representative in Congress, to fight for a quality education for every child and high-quality neighborhood schools where I have a real voice in school policies and programs, and my child has experienced teachers, small class sizes, quality preschool and kindergarten programs, a rich curriculum with fewer tests, and a safe, healthy environment."

A phone call to their local office would be even better! Let us know how they respond!

Join Massachusetts parents and others in standing up against Stand for Children

PAA Oregon member Susan Barrett wrote a ground-breaking post for PAA's blog last July, exposing the way a formerly grass-roots group had been taken over by corporate reformers with an agenda very different from the group's original purpose.

The same thing has now happened in Massachusetts, where 39 former Stand for Children activists have posted a letterand a petitionagainst a SFC ballot measure that promotes a corporate reform agenda: "Venture capitalists and deep-pocketed corporate foundations, such as Bain Capital and the Walton Family Foundation, are moving aggressively to remake MA public schools based on their right-wing ideology. They are funding "Stand for Children" to sell a ballot initiative that would undermine our children's learning environment and sharply restrict teacher job protections. Don't let them do in Massachusetts what they did to Illinois!"

Let's support our fellow activists! Sign the MA petition!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2011

Caldecott Medal, 2011

A Sick Day for Amos McGee was written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead. This 2011 Caldecott winner is the story of sweet Amos the zookeeper and all his animal friends. But one day Amos gets a cold and misses a day of work at the zoo. Who will take care of Amos? Read and see! This is one of my most favorite picture books ever – for any age.

Newbery Medal, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is a compilation of many of the stories the author heard as a young girl. These stories are woven into the life of twelve-year old Abilene whose father Gideon sends her to live with his old friend Shady. And then enters Miss Sadie, the best storyteller of all, who gives clues about this small town’s little mysteries to Abilene and her friends. This story has delightful stories and seems appropriate for middle schoolers.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 2000

Caldecott Medal, 2000

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat was written by Simms Talback and was the 2000 Caldecott winner. This is the story of a man named Joseph with an overcoat. As his coat becomes worn out Joseph turned it into a jacket. That jacket eventually becomes a vest. That vest becomes a scarf. And on and on. The fun in this book is the different-shaped holes created on each page by the illustrator. Kids love to predict what will happen to the next level of clothing. This book will be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

Newbery Medal, 2000

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis was the Newberry winner in the year 2000. The story begins in the depression with “Bud – not Buddy” in an orphanage four years after his mother’s death. After a few “unfortunate incidents” in both the home and foster care, Buddy runs away to search for his Dad. There is a bit of a surprise ending but let me just say that Bud’s problems are resolved. This is a sweet read. Our ten-year old grandson would love this book!

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Friday, May 4, 2012

What parents can do during Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11

The folks at Save Our Schools have some ideas for how parents can show appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 7-11, 2012.


Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11)
Teacher Appreciation Day (May 8th)

Dear Parents

Small cards, well wishes from our students, chocolates or a pencil holder are certainly welcomed by your teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Yet, to be frank, to truly appreciate your teachers as dedicated hard working educators that, despite cuts, high risk tests and overcrowded classrooms, continue to give our kids the best education possible...

Then stand up for them-and for your schools.

Save Our Schools-America: is asking parents and community organizations across the country to take action in support of public schools, teachers and staff during Teacher Appreciation Week or on Teacher Appreciation Day. If we are to be truly appreciated as teachers, the nation has to stop attacking us. The idea is to bring public attention to the privatization of our public schools, the demoralization of staff through the continued attacks on our salaries, livelihoods and the very way we teach-with little, if any, of our input to lawmakers and politicians.

Here are some ideas:
  • Film showings, at a local college, hall, church, or in your home) like: The Inconvenient Truth Around Waiting for Superman and TEACH
  • Discussions of books/articles with friends (like Diane Ravitch’s excellent book, The Death and Life of the American School System)
  • A ten minute discussion with a parent at lunch
  • Conversations with neighbors, community organizations
  • Letters to editors/media
  • Letters or visits to your legislators
  • Tables at spring fairs/festivals, etc.
  • Contact your local, state or national education association
  • Attend a public hearing on educational or budget issues
  • Have a fundraising party (dance, pot luck, music jam, etc.)
  • A Youtube parent flash mob
  • Contact and volunteer for Parents Across America
  • A meeting with your Parent Association (PTA, HSA)
  • Brainstorm different ideas with other parents
Of course, there’s always your twitters, facebooks, etc.

Thanks for truly appreciating the educator in your district by considering any action or event that supports their work in your community.

SOS acts as a nationwide watchdog and activist organization for public schools.
Please visit us at Save our Schools-On The March For Public Education
Get a pdf version of the SOS flyer for sharing with others: Parents Honor Our Teachers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Medals 1989

Caldecott Medal, 1989

Song and Dance Man was written by Karen Ackerman and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. This is the story of a Grandpa who revisits his time in Vaudeville (when there was no TV) for his grandchildren. His tap dancing and magic tricks entrance (mesmerize) his grandchildren who “laugh so hard the hiccups start.” This is a charming story with beautifully detailed colored pencil illustrations.

Newbery Medal, 1989

Joyful, Noise, Poems for Two Voices was written by Paul Fleischman. The black and white illustrations were drawn by Eric Beddows. This is not a fiction story (as most Newberry winners usually are), but instead is a compilation of poems about insects (book lice, honeybees, house crickets, and fireflies, to name a few). What makes this book different is that it was written to be read by two voices – sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous(ly?). This book is meant for good readers – (third grade, at least, I think) and would be great fun for you and your child to read together.

Book Reviews by Susan Berry

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wear Red on May 11

From: _Bunche Mailbox []
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 6:22 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Wear Red May 11

Friday May 11th is "Wear Red for Ed" day. This is way you can show your support for public education. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education group initiated this as a great way to talk to others about our strong public education system. Your child(ren) are receiving a high quality education at a public school that would cost a good sum of money at a private school. Please help support us by talking about public education to your friends and co-workers and by wearing red May 11th. YOU are our best advocate!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Caldecott and Newbery Awards

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) to the artist/llustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. This medal is named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott.

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually (also by the American Library Association) to the author who makes a significant contribution to American literature for children. This award is named after the eighteenth-century bookseller John Newbery. The purpose of this award is to “encourage original creative work in the field of books for children.”

Very soon you will be seeing reviews of both Caldecott and Newbery winners. Check this column every few weeks for new reviews.
Sites of Interest:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18, 2012: Question of the Day

NEIFPE has done considerable research on a number of topics regarding education. We have found a huge amount of information, yet this information has led us to ask even more questions.

Here are questions that we think you might want to ask your state legislators,
your school board members, your administrators, and the IDOE:
  • With regard to IREAD, what happens to kids who don't pass?
  • What are your school's plans to handle this?
  • Will the 3rd grade students who do not pass be retained or will they be
    moved to 4th grade?
Get information about how to contact your legislators HERE and HERE.
Contact the Indiana Department of Education HERE.

Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Importance of Parenting

Children need more than professional educators to be successful in school. Parents need to carry their share of the burden with support and encouragement.

Take a look at this short video of a persevering grandmother.

from The Frustrated Teacher Blog.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can You Support A Local School System That Really Wants to Reform

The Answer Sheet's guest blogger, Ronald Willett, provides parents with some information to help local school systems engage in real reform. Read his post 20 questions for parents about K-12 school reform .

Willett, a former university professor, researcher, administrator, corporate executive, entrepreneur and CEO, asks a series of questions of parents which he says will
reveal how you would support a local school system that wanted to seriously reform.
His questions begin with easy items such as,
  • “Would you like your children to have informed opinions and values that may differ from your own?
  • Are you willing to advocate for higher taxes to lower class sizes, raise teacher salaries to attract better candidates to the profession, and buy technology?
  • Are you willing to have your children’s performance measured in ways other than standardized test scores?
The questions get progressively more difficult until the parent answers questions about becoming seriously involved in the political process surrounding schools.
  • Are you willing to run for a school board, advocate a PTA for your system and support it, or step up to volunteer to serve on school committees that are heavy time users?
  • Would you be willing occupy your school’s parking lot and protest if the system was teaching to the tests, misrepresenting its financial condition, protecting poor or unprepared teachers and teaching, obscuring bullying by either a teacher or administrator, producing flawed curricula, falsifying its true learning performances, or covering up parental complaints, or are those just board problems?
Those who cannot answer yes to most of the 20 questions he proposes cannot expect their child to get the education which they deserve.

His final words are a challenge to parents...
America’s parents are as much a part of the infrastructure that creates real learning in K-12 as schools. You can delegate the chores, but not the responsibility.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Indiana Legislature Summary

Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters has this to say about the latest session of the Indiana legislature...
Recapping the legislative session – sometimes inaction is OK

As for what lawmakers didn’t do, the following measures were apparently given serious consideration but died a merciful death:
  • Allowing school boards to mandate the teaching of “creation science”
  • Prescribing standards for the singing of the National Anthem at school events
  • Barring schools from starting fall classes before Labor Day
  • Ordering a return to a single-class high school basketball tournament
  • Requiring schools to teach cursive writing as part of the curriculum
Other education bills that passed — according to information from Terry Spradlin of Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy — included:
  • HEA 1134 – Prohibits school districts from charging fees for transporting students to and from schools. This was prompted by a spat between Franklin Township Schools, which instituted a bus fee because of budgetary problems, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who said such a fee was illegal.
  • HEA 1189 – Adds a spring-semester enrollment “count day” in February to determine how much money schools get from the state. Under the current system, enrollment is counted only once, in September, and school funding is fixed regardless of how many students transfer in or out.
  • HEA 1205 – Requires school districts to publicize the details of proposed superintendent contracts and conduct public hearings before approving the contracts.
  • SEA 268 – Establishes an advisory committee on early childhood education. Senate Democrats say this could prove a first step toward establishing a state-funded pre-kindergarten program – Indiana is currently one of a handful of states that don’t have one. But as with full-day kindergarten, it’s likely to take years.
Click HERE to read the entire summary.