I am recommending to the board this evening that they ratify the contract as presented. This contract for the second year in a row has a zero increase . Our Classroom Teachers Association does this fully knowing that zero isn't in reality a zero. It is a negative as our insurance rate increased by 4% in 2013 and increased 8% for the 2015 school year. In the past there was a salary schedule for teachers that had an increment in place for experience .That option was taken away two years ago by our legislature. So this is a true pay cut for the second year in a row. Along with our teachers, all employees of Northeast Dubois have taken this same cut in salary the past two years . It saddens me to have to ask for this and accept this. But that is the reality of what we are currently dealing with.
It does however give me great pleasure to work in this school system where kids truly come first. Our school corporation is a system where people honestly put students' needs ahead of their own as evidenced by these actions. Our school corporation is innovative as shown by our technology, our atmosphere and, of course, our success . Still
we are never satisfied and continuously work to improve. Our school system strives to provide students the opportunity to pursue their passions and excel in many areas! Our school system is one where there is no talk of cutting any programs or enlarging class sizes in order to save money-yet. I worry about this trend continuing. Staff has shown their dedication to students by forgoing pay in order to protect these programs and class sizes.
I only wish I lived in a state where legislators cared as much for students as we do at Northeast Dubois. In 2009, $300,000,000 was taken from the education budget and never returned. Yet we all read in the news that the state has a $2,000,000,000 surplus. One doesn't have to be a math expert in order to see where 75% of that money came from. Take five years times $300,000,000 and it is crystal clear that $1.5 Billion has come at the cost of the schools in Indiana. Many schools have turned to referendums, just to make ends meet. In fact, after the May election one out of every three schools in Indiana has run a referendum on the voting ballot. Yet, what do we as educators get from our legislators? We get higher standards, more accountability and forced competition, competition for money that is not increasing. We are forced to compete for students, as the money follows the child . We get forced competition where students are ranked, teachers are ranked and schools are ranked. Ranking always produces winners and losers, there is always a top and always a bottom, and in education there cannot be any losers! The education of every child in this state is critical. I am a firm believer that every school in this state is giving their best effort! I wish the legislators would truly see what great things are happening in our schools and begin to support our efforts . I feel they have forgotten the essential role education has played in the success in their own lives and that an education is the most important aspect in leaving a legacy for our children. Public education as we know it is in grave danger. Our legislators need to know just how much we care about our schools and we need their support!
Northeast Dubois is surviving like every other school corporation in this state; we are surviving by a slim margin. We are surviving because of our dedicated, caring and giving people. To all Northeast Dubois employees: Thank you for truly putting kids first! I am humbled to be a part of this school corporation. And hopefully better days are ahead! Let's keep working together for all our students!
William G . Hochgesang,
Superintendent, Northeast Dubois "
In the summer of 2012, ICPE-Monroe County asked our local school board (MCCSC) to adopt a resolution against high stakes testing. As a result of recent legislation, the pressure on kids and their teachers to perform on tests, due to test-driven "accountability" measures like the A-F state grading system of schools, had mounted. We thought that a resolution of the type that was making national news would be helpful to raise awareness for the public about how the punitive use of standardized tests has harmful effects on the most vulnerable children, and point the community in the direction of where they could effect change.
Board member Sue Wanzer brought the resolution to the board for a vote on July 24th. Prior to the start of the meeting, many ICPE members spoke about the importance of this resolution. Chairperson Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer said: " “People here love their public schools. I’m afraid that people are going to get the message that their public schools are failing when in fact our public schools are NOT failing—we as a society are failing poor children and we need to do something about it. But the poor children are the ones that are going to be hurt by this and if you don’t speak out at some point, then ‘your silence is the voice of complicity.’” An expert in standardized tests and ICPE-MCSCI co-founder, Phil Harris said, “…using standardized tests as the measure of accountability goes against everything that they were created to do.”
When it came time to vote on the resolution, Dr. Jeannine Butler was the first to raise her objection. She went into great length about why the teacher evaluation law was fair, even with its use of standardized tests. You can watch her whole testimony on that starting at 42:36 (after the hour mark). After much detail about the teacher evaluation concern (which is not directly mentioned very much in the resolution), she went on to say: "We need to be leaders in how to better prepare our students for how to live in the twenty-first century, rather than telling people to undo the testing requirements. Let’s work with the mandates and help our students. We need to spend our time doing this, rather than sending out resolutions. The time to have spoken out about the standardized testing was BEFORE it was passed by the state legislature. People had the opportunity to speak about the bills. The same for this teacher evaluation legislation that was passed..."
The other board member to raise his objections, was Mr. Kelly Smith. He echoed the concerns about teacher evaluation that Jeannine Butler had raised.
"The things that I’m coming up here with is this, to me, this resolution here seems to be scaring us into saying this is such a bad thing. I just looked at all this great data. We’re beating the system right now! We’re going to continue to do it. I don’t like resolutions, they concentrate on negativity. And when I read this, that’s all I get from it. I’m not saying testing is the best thing in the world. I can agree with Doc [Dr. Jeannine Butler] I think it’s overused and that.
There’s so much more about the model that’s coming out for evaluation that we don’t know about. I know the state has backed off a lot of what we thought was going to be in there. Or what we heard was going to be in there. And ultimately what I did to help come up with a decision on my own was really reach out to the teachers and principals and students and parents that I know, I think I’ve lived in this community long enough to get a good wide sampling. I know this: there’s no teacher or administrator input in this resolution. I have a very hard time supporting something that doesn’t come from our teachers. I heard that they were afraid to say anything. I didn’t talk to a single teacher that said that they were afraid to say that if standardized testing was holding them back from effective teaching, they wouldn’t have any problem telling their administrators. Or us. I’m not getting that. In fact, I’m getting quite the opposite. It’s focusing teachers to collaborate with one another. To focus on the standards that ten or twenty years ago sat in a red binder in the back of your classroom collecting dust.
The momentum that we have going on in this district right now is one that we make no excuses. We don’t make excuses about socioeconomic status, color, race, English language abilities. They’re sending us the best kids that they have every day and we’re doing this by the rules that have come down to us. And we are successful regardless. I think the momentum—this, to me, and maybe it’s not…but to me, it just smells like an excuse. And I don’t want that for our teachers. Or our students, for that matter. We’re doing a great job. I believe this resolution is more negative than it is positive. I can’t support it.”
The resolution ultimately failed. Keith Klein, Lois Sabo-Skelton, and Sue Wanzer voted for it. Then-president Jim Muehling, Martha Street, Kelly Smith and Jeannine Butler voted against it.
Local school boards cannot change the stakes that the state has has tied to standardized tests. Those have been put into law. However, local school boards can decide how much to educate the public as to the consequences of "reform" at both the state and national level. Boards can help ensure that all children are receiving the broad curriculum instead of a narrow focus on teaching to the test for the lowest performing (usually highest concentration of poverty) schools. Boards can put in place processes or means by which to hear back from teachers and students regarding changes in policy. They can be sympathetic ears and ask questions. They might ask, "What can we do to lessen the stress on children?" They might decide that a grading system of schools that is arbitrary and unjust should not be validated with banners nor congratulations. They can even reject these grades and, instead, look to other ways of evaluating and defining schools, teachers' and children's success.
Local school boards matter. Please be informed on the issues and candidates. Know where all candidates, both school board and legislative representatives stand on high-stakes testing. We believe this is the tool for privatization. Please vote.
Last week we received word that Seven Oaks Classical School was denied a charter. Here was our ICPE-Monroe County chairperson, Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer's response:
We are very happy that Seven Oaks Classical School was denied a charter in our area. We are grateful to a community that would circle the wagons around the thousands of children in MCCSC to retain the funding for ALL children. The eloquence and passion for public education reflected in the letters and public statements at the public hearing for both the Seven Oaks school as well as the Green School/Green Meadows school last year was impressive and moving.
Here's the thing.
We have to stop going on the defense. We need to be proactive.
There are legitimate reasons that people are feeling upset or disconnected from our public school system. There are issues to address regarding the focus on tests, the issues of equity from school to school, the concern for developmentally appropriate practice, the silencing of teacher voices, the dismissal of parent voices, the lack of evaluation regarding decisions on policy or programming and the lack of collaboration or transparency in that decision-making process, etc. The lack of questions asked.
This is why we must be informed about our school board candidates. This is why we must work to elect those who we feel would address these concerns.
We are all busy.
You do have the time to write a letter to the editor to raise awareness. You do have the time to write an email to your circle of influence (family and friends) to explain why you will be voting. It isn't rude to put it out there. It's a conversation we need to be having. You must have an hour of time to go door to door (the real way to reach voters) and pass out flyers for a candidate. Surely on election day you and a friend can stand at the polls and ask voters: "Do you need any information about school board candidates?"
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is the electing of state representatives who will also listen to this rising tide of anger and frustration from parents and citizens regarding the attack on our public schools and our teachers.
There is only so much a school board member can do to address the fixation on data and test scores when the LAW requires that that be the ONLY measure of "success." If uninformed Joe Public sees a scarlet letter on a school building of "F" he or she may not want to move to that neighborhood, put up a business in that community or even have their children attend that school.
This grading system SERVES A PURPOSE.
What does your state legislature suggest as the answer to the issue of "failing schools"-- a myth perpetrated by this unjust and punitive system of labeling?
Here's their solution: take a voucher and run. Open a new charter school if the market is ripe. Demand more testing to "prove" that these kids and teachers are worthy of the paltry funding they make them jump through hoops to attain.
Do a business model cost-benefit analysis on schools...break it all down to data. Offer higher standards. Get a competitive market out there where schools compete for the best possible product = education.
THESE ARE CHILDREN. There should be no 7 year-old having to prove him or herself worthy of a quality education. There should be no 5 year-olds on the losing end of a competition for educational opportunity.
WE NEED CHANGE IN POLICY. IN ORDER TO DO THAT, WE NEED A CHANGE IN POLICYMAKERS.
This supermajority has to go. Glenda Ritz was symbolic of Indiana's desire to support public education and teachers. But you have to do more than put a symbol in office when the state legislature and governor are thwarting her efforts at every turn. You have to vote them out.
In order for that to happen, you have to write those letters. You have to give some money. You have to go to the campaign headquarters and make phone calls.
No one is doing it for you. Three people volunteering does not a movement make.
This week, this weekend... you have to help. You have to carve out the time and help.
Otherwise.. you are enabling profiteers to use your children as pawns in a money-making game and even if you can save your own kids, those kids in "those" schools with "those" parents are going to grow up someday and they will be the ones you expect to help make this world a better place.
It takes a village.
Just as the SBOE was deliberating grades for schools, and changing Christel House's grade from a D to a B--shades of Tony, a specter just in time for Halloween!--ICPE-MCSCI volunteers were assigning grades to state representatives.
ICPE's report card for south central Indiana looks at the votes of five legislators representing districts that include Bloomington, Bloomfield, Terre Haute, Martinsville, and Bedford. Representatives Bob Heaton (R-46), Peggy Mayfield (R-60), and Matt Ubelhor (R-62) received an F; Representative Eric Koch (R-65) received a D. Only Representative Matt Pierce (D-61) earned an A for his pro-education votes.
Our report card examines four bills for the 2013 legislative session that had a significant impact on public schools in Indiana, reshaping education policy in our state.
The majority of local lawmakers voted to divert millions of dollars from public education to charter schools and to private schools through vouchers. They also supported laws that have emphasized high-stakes testing and grading of schools while lowering professional standards for teachers and superintendents.
According to our chair Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, “We need to elect state representatives who will listen to the rising tide of anger and frustration from parents and citizens regarding the attack on our public schools and our teachers. We need change in policy. In order to do that, we need a change in policymakers.”
Click here to view the report card, and please share widely.