At the MCCSC school board meeting on January 28, 2020, this statement written by Keri Miksza was presented during public comment.
Last year myself and others spoke to the board about a few things. I was concerned about class size, especially in Title I schools. No elementary teacher should teach a class of 30, especially in a Title I school. In addition, I suggested that there be an audit of all the assessments given in the district.
Since then, there was an information night explaining all the mandated assessments and an assessment matrix was created. It’s good transparency. In addition, since then, ILEARN results came out and we all discovered that the cut scores the state chose were not ideal, resulting in low scores for many districts. Teachers in lower socio-economic schools were discouraged as they worked so hard. Currently our legislators are determining to hold schools harmless from ILEARN scores for last year and this year.
Last week my daughter came home to tell me she spent the day practicing ILEARN. She is in 6th grade at Binford. All 4 core periods were spent practicing ILEARN. I asked the principal and one of her teachers and they confirmed that the district is requiring ILEARN to be practiced 2x on top of the state mandated practice session.
Parents should know how many assessments and practice assessments their kids are given each year that are mandated—not by the choice of the teacher. A district ought to know how many assessments their employees are administering to children and how much time it takes their teachers to administer. What curriculum is lost due to these assessments? Yes, some assessments are useful but others may just be taking up precious teaching and learning time.
I have given you a spreadsheet based on a very informal survey of the mandated assessments that K-6 teachers give. Some are short, some are long. Some are given in a group, some are given individually. Some are online, some are oral, some are on paper. All interrupt a teacher’s day. If a class is 30, that’s a lot of assessments to administer.
There are 180 days of school. Based on count alone, if a student took 1 assessment per day, some students may be taking mandated assessments for 1/3 to ½ of the 180 days they are in school. And this does not include the assessments that the teacher may choose to administer herself, like spelling or social studies assessments.
This list is not accurate as I am just a mom. I am not an assessment expert. But I do think it’s a good ballpark estimate. Please note that kids in Title I schools are likely assessed more than their counterparts in non-Title I schools. Due to that, are kids in Title I schools receiving a narrower curriculum? Is that fair? In addition, I’m not sure how many assessments kids with IEPs must take.
What concerns me the most are the number of district mandated assessments. We really can’t control the ones mandated by federal and state, but we can control locally mandated assessments. I ask the board to speak to teachers, to members of the union about CFAs. Allegedly they are currently being re-written to look like ILEARN questions. Is a test dictating curriculum? Is it appropriate for kids who don’t test well on ILEARN? How much is too much testing?
Thank you for your time.
Worthy bills were filed this session--bills that that would get rid of the third-grade reading test (IREAD), increase charter transparency and accountability, and increase teacher pay. Those bills did not get heard by committee. However, in response to the Red for Ed activism, legislators are moving to decouple teacher evaluations from test scores and to hold schools and districts harmless from the harm imposed on them by a poorly made state standardized test, ILEARN.
Our lobbyist Joel Hand explains: Starting on Monday, most bills that are still alive will switch from their chamber of origin to the opposite chamber (House to Senate or Senate to House). All bills get assigned to a committee in the second chamber and go through the full committee hearing process just as they did in their chamber of origin.
Please contact education committee members (contact info is given at the bottom of this post) as well as your own state senator or representative about the following bills. If you don't know who they are, you can find your reps here. This is not a comprehensive list; there are other bills to be concerned about. But it's a place to start.
House Bill 1003 (to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 12), among other things, would let a school or group of schools apply to the State Board to waive compliance with certain statutes or rules, including on restraint and seclusion, bullying prevention, suicide awareness, discipline policy, and training on child abuse and neglect. We oppose this part of the bill.
Message: Let the study committee established by the bill do its work and make recommendations about how to reduce the administrative burden on schools. Statutes should apply equally to all. It’s not transparent to have exceptions to the rules for some. That undermines the whole idea of a system of common schools. Please amend House Bill 1003 to remove the part that would enable a school or group of schools to apply for a waiver to some state statutes.
Address to: Senate Education Committee and/or your state senator
House Bill 1066 (to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Feb. 12). We oppose the part of this bill that would extend voucher eligibility to foster children.
Message: We spent $161 million on the voucher program last year. This program is draining funds from the public schools that most foster children attend. Also, most foster children already are eligible for vouchers through income guidelines. We are losing public school teachers, and enrollment in Indiana’s teacher training programs dropped by 55% between 2010 and 2018. Don’t add another path toward a voucher. Eight paths is enough. Please remove the vouchers-for-foster-children provision in House Bill 1066.
Address to: Senate Education Committee and/or your state senator
House Bill 1153. Provides that the governor’s workforce cabinet shall make a strategic plan to align education policy with workforce training and employer needs.
Message: While we all want students to be prepared for jobs, education should be much more than job training. Education should develop our kids’ potential in many directions--including as citizens, scientists, and artists. It should be designed by people who are knowledgeable about child development--educators. The needs of Indiana’s employers should not dictate the education of our children. Vote no on House Bill 1153.
Address to: Senate Education Committee and/or your state senator and Governor Holcomb
HB 1002. Removes the requirement that teacher evaluations be based in part on student test scores.
Message: Across all school types, test scores reflect family income. Evaluating teachers and schools according to test scores punishes those who serve students in poverty. It also pressures teachers to teach to the test, narrowing the curriculum and discouraging creative and innovative educators from persisting in the profession. Vote yes on House Bill 1002--and don’t stop there. Next year, get rid of the punitive, test-score-based A-F system for grading schools.
Address to: Senate Education Committee and/or your state senator and Governor Holcomb
Senate Committee on Education and Career Development members:
Chair: Senator Raatz, 317-233-0930, Senator.Raatz@iga.in.gov,
Crane, 317-232-0084, email@example.com,
Buchanan, 317-234-9426, Senator.Buchanan@iga.in.gov
Donato, 317-234-9488, firstname.lastname@example.org
Freeman, 317-232-9400, senator.Freeman@iga.in.gov
Kruse, 800-382-9467, Senator.Kruse@iga.in.gov
Leising, 317-232-9493, Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov
Rogers, 317-234-9443, Senator.Rogers@iga.in.gov
Spartz, 317-232-9400, Senator.Spartz@iga.in.gov
Melton, 317-232-9491, email@example.com
Mrvan, 317-232-9847, firstname.lastname@example.org
Niezgodski, 317-232-9491, email@example.com
Stoops, 317-232-9532, firstname.lastname@example.org
House Committee on Education members:
Chair: Representative Behning, 800-382-9841, email@example.com
Cook, 800-382-9841, firstname.lastname@example.org
Burton, 800-382-9841 email@example.com
Clere, 800-382-9841, firstname.lastname@example.org
DeVon, 800-382-9841, email@example.com
Goodrich, 800-382-9841, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan, 800-382-9841, email@example.com
Lucas, 800-382-9841, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thompson, 800-382-9841, email@example.com
Smith, 800-382-9842, firstname.lastname@example.org;
DeLaney, 800-382-9842, email@example.com
Klinker, 800-382-9842, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pfaff, 800-382-9842, email@example.com
Mailing address for Governor Holcomb and state senators and representatives:
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786
Thank you for your attention to education bills in this fast-paced short session!
--Jenny Robinson and Keri Miksza
A call to educate ourselves on racial injustice in schools (and how school privatization feeds into it)
The following is a guest post from Dakota Hudelson, a 7th grade writing teacher and secretary of the Columbus Educators Association. It is the third in a weekly challenge he is issuing to fellow educators and those who care about public schools.
Red for Ed Challenge
Your challenge this week is another two-part challenge. Part one is to donate $5 to the NAACP. Part two is to educate yourself on racial injustice in education.
Part 1: Donate $5 to the NAACP
Did you know that the NAACP has stood strong for public education, even when it hasn’t always been popular?
In 2016, the NAACP called for a nationwide moratorium on new charter schools. In 2014, they came out publicly opposing any attempt to privatize public education or publicly fund for-profit or charter schools.
Their decision to do this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The negative effects of charter schools and vouchers on racial justice in education have been well-documented (we’ll get to that in part two). Please show your support for the NAACP and its mission by sending them just $5 this week.
Part 2: Educate yourself
(Take your time—there are a lot of articles and studies here!)
1. The first school voucher program in America was a naked attempt to circumvent court orders to integrate schools. In Prince Edward County, VA, following court orders to end segregation handed down by SCOTUS in Brown v. Board of Education, Prince Edward County chose to close all of its public schools rather than integrate them. They then provided school vouchers to students that would allow them to attend private schools, thus creating the first school voucher program in the United States. Private schools were under no obligation to admit students of color or integrate, and indeed, they did not, so the white, affluent students were able to secure an education with public funding while students of color were not. Read more:
2. There’s substantial evidence that as charter schools have spread, racial segregation in schools has worsened. Please read these articles; you’ll see many harrowing facts about how charter schools have led to worsening school segregation, and students of color are once again getting the short end of the stick:
3. Do you know the racist and classist history of the SATs and other standardized tests? As educators, we know that testing students to death isn’t the right thing to do, but it’s even worse for our students of color:
4. I know many educators love their school resource officer. However, are you sure that an SRO program in your school district isn’t being used to disproportionately harm students of color and strengthen the school-to-prison pipeline? I understand that this can be a sensitive topic, and it’s hard to believe that your friendly SRO might be contributing to the underachievement and unnecessary criminalization of students of color, but the facts are clear. Some important studies to consider are:
5. Lastly, let’s end with some Indiana-specific studies as they pertain to racial in/justice in education:
I know that reading all of this can be overwhelming. Your first thought might be, “what in the world can I even do?” Well, believe it or not, educators and their unions are perfectly poised to exert major influence and begin to dismantle racism and white supremacy in education. If you’re ready to take your advocacy for students of color and racial justice in education to the next level, donate that $5 to the NAACP, then look here for more ideas.
Awesome! THANK you!
View the agenda for the January 29, 2020 meeting of the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development. Bills on the agenda are listed below.
SB 295 Various education matters. Directs the state board of education (state board) to establish the Indiana Innovation Council (council). Defines the membership of the council and describes certain duties of the council. Allows school corporations to apply for flexibility regarding or waivers from state and federal regulations. Requires the council to approve the applications. Extends the deadline for school corporations, charter schools, and accredited nonpublic schools to incorporate age appropriate research based instructions on child abuse and child sexual abuse to students. Requires that outlines and materials about child abuse and child sexual abuse used for instruction must be effective and promising. Removes the requirement that school buses have black reflective tape affixed on the bumpers and sides of the bus.
Our comment: If the rules are important, keep them. If they are not, why should they apply to some but not all schools? Allowing waivers may produce a patchwork of regulations, rules for some but not others, and introduce or increase inequities.
And why, after the 2018 death of three children crossing the road for the bus, would legislators remove a requirement for school buses to have black reflective tape?
SB 398 Various education matters. Removes the topic of high ability students (including high ability curriculum) from the list of statutes that the legislative council is urged to assign to a study committee during the 2021 legislative interim. Defines a patriotic organization as a youth membership organization listed in Title 36 of the United States Code. Requires school corporations to allow representatives of patriotic organizations to speak with students about participating in a patriotic organization and provide information to students about how the patriotic organization may better the students' school and community. Requires the department of workforce development to ensure that the high school equivalency test is administered under certain conditions and by certain vendors.
Our comment: This bill would apparently require districts and charters to allow Boys & Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts to use any school building, apparently giving these "patriotic organizations" precedence over the school’s own activities.
SB 445 Micro-credentialing. Requires the state board of education (state board) to establish a micro-credential program to supplement current teacher renewal requirements or that allows a micro-credential to be obtained as part of a professional growth plan. Requires the state board to approve one or more micro-credential programs to meet the state board's requirements. Provides that the state board shall prioritize certain criteria in establishing a micro-credential program. Requires the commission for higher education (commission) to study whether a micro-credential program can be used toward a master's degree. Requires the commission to submit a report to the state board about its findings.
SB 244 Teacher supplemental pay and evaluations. Establishes additional circumstances for which a school corporation may provide supplemental payments to teachers in excess of the salary specified in the school corporation's compensation plan. Provides that a teacher rated improvement necessary in the teacher's annual performance evaluation may receive a partial raise or increment. (Current law provides that such a teacher may not receive a raise or increment.) Relocates provisions regarding supplemental payments for teachers. Amends requirements regarding school corporation annual performance evaluations.
SB 263 Handgun training for teachers. Provides that a school corporation, charter school, or accredited nonpublic school may use grant money received from the Indiana safe schools fund to pay for part or all of specialized weapons training for employees who are required to successfully complete or who request to attend the specialized weapons training. Establishes requirements for specialized weapons training. Provides that, before an employee or any other staff member of a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school may carry a firearm in or on school property as authorized by a school board of the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school, the employee or staff member shall do the following: (1) Successfully complete certain specialized weapons training. (2) Provide proof to the school board that the employee or other staff member has successfully completed the specialized weapons training. (3) Complete the Minnesota multiphasic personality inventory 2 (MMPI-II) and provide proof of completion to the school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school. Requires an employee or any other staff member of a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school to successfully complete eight hours of weapons training each year that the employee or staff member intends to carry a firearm in or on school property. Requires that for a person or entity to provide specialized weapons training to certain employees and other staff members of a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school, the person or entity apply and receive approval from the secured school safety board. Provides that a public school or an accredited nonpublic school may not conduct a training or drill for an employee of the school that includes, as any part of the training or drill, the expelling of any type of projectile at the employee unless: (1) the school informs the employee of the use of projectiles in the training or drill; and (2) the employee consents, in writing, to the use of projectiles during the training or drill. Allows a school to barricade or block a door during an active shooter drill or during an active shooter emergency occurring in a school building.
Our comment: A tragic situation in Bloomington in the past week, in which a four-year-old was killed by a bullet discharged when his father's gun fell to the floor as they were wrestling, is yet another reminder of the danger that would be introduced by guns in schools.
SB 319 Practitioner or accomplished practitioner license. Provides that 15 of the professional growth experience points required to renew a practitioner license or accomplished practitioner license may be obtained through one or more of certain professional development experiences. (Current law requires 15 of the professional growth experience points to renew a practitioner license or an accomplished practitioner license must be obtained through one or more of certain professional development experiences.) Amends the list of professional development experiences.
This bill responds to a groundswell of teacher outrage as it would repeal the externship requirement.
SB 346 Students with disabilities. Provides that at least one member of the Indiana technical advisory committee of the state board of education must have expertise in special education. Requires, to the extent permitted under federal law, the department of education (department) to provide the same text-to-speech, screen reader, or human reader accommodations to a particular student on every section of the statewide assessment program as provided as part of the student's individualized education program (IEP), service plan, or choice scholarship education plan. Prohibits the department from issuing certain guidance or recommendations to a school corporation or school regarding an individualized education program (IEP), service plan, or choice scholarship education plan.
SB 412 21st century scholars program. Provides that the commission for higher education may allow a twenty-first century scholars program student who fulfills the observance of a religious discipline or call to mission to delay enrollment in a college or university or to meet course completion requirements for a period of up to two years.
Please call committee members, including chair Senator Raatz, at 800-382-9467, with your comments. Also, you can email committee members at the addresses below.
Republicans: Raatz, Crane, Buchanan, Donato, Freeman, Kruse, Leising, Rogers, Spartz
Democrats: Melton, Mrvan, Niezgodski, Stoops
Senator.Raatz@iga.in.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, Senator.Buchanan@iga.in.gov, email@example.com, Senator.Freeman@iga.in.gov, Senator.Kruse@iga.in.gov, Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov, Senator.Rogers@iga.in.gov, Senator.Spartz@iga.in.gov
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com