As we gear up for the second half, let's begin with a little Schoolhouse Rocks, "I'm Just a Bill" reminder. See this diagram on how a bill becomes a law.
This session has not been as painful as prior ones, but there are some bills that just don't jive. Here are a few bills to oppose at the moment:
HB1315 – School corporation financial management. The bill would hand control of Muncie Community Schools over to Ball State University (BSU). The local community would lose control of school as school board as new board would be appointed by Ball State trustees (who themselves appointed by the state of Indiana). For all other teachers in the state, the bill would hold classroom teachers responsible for the state of a school districts' finances by specifically calling for the termination of up to 5 percent of the teacher force by the end of a fall semester, if a district is designated as being in fiscal distress. These actions would no doubt impact student learning, academic goals and increase class sizes in the middle of a school year. Read more here and here.
SB33 - Houses of worship and firearms. Permits a person who may legally possess a firearm to possess a firearm on school property, unless prohibited by the house of worship, if the person possesses the firearm: (1) as an employee or volunteer of a house of worship located on the school property; or (2) while attending a worship service or religious ceremony conducted at a house of worship. This has been referred to the House Public Policy committee. A reading date has yet to be set. In the wake of everything since Columbine: GUNS DON'T BELONG ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.
SB387 – Teacher Licensing. This bill is a potluck bill. Lots going on. Thankfully the 10% unlicensed teachers allowed in public schools line was removed. However, while most teacher salary bills died in committee, this one has a salary element lives on and it's one that does not benefit the collective whole (it does the opposite). A part of this bill would allow administrators to give supplemental pay bonuses to a select few teachers (special needs and STEM), at the expense of others, without bargaining these decisions. The effect would be the loss of some, or all, funds available for the rest of the teacher force. The extra pay comes out of the pockets of every other teacher, as this bill does not include additional funding. Also, stipends could be taken away at any time — they never become part of an employees’ base pay. This erodes bargaining, and the value of bargaining, because annually the interests of all get weighed and decisions are made based upon both short and longer-term interests.
SB 65 – Instruction on Human Sexuality. The bill would prohibit a school from providing instruction on human sexuality unless parents sign a consent form to opt-in to the class. Read more here. Please note that ACLU is also against this legislation. They state: Senate Bill 65, which would limit instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in public schools, is so broadly worded that it could prevent schools from discussing any LGBTQ issues without express written permission from parents.
You can call your legislator by finding his/her info here.
Bills to Be Read by the House Education Committee on February 13 at 8:30 a.m.
SB24 - DO PASS Yeas: 12; Nays: 0; (Voted on 02/13)
Student possession and use of sunscreen. Provides that a student may possess and use a topical, non-aerosol sunscreen product while on school property or at a school sponsored event or activity without being required to: (1) have a physician's note or prescription; or (2) store the topical, non-aerosol sunscreen product in a specific location; if the product is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter use for the purpose of limiting ultraviolet light-induced skin damage. Allows school personnel to assist a student in applying the sunscreen if the school has written permission from the student's parent or guardian. Provides certain civil immunity for school corporations, schools, and school personnel for any action taken to comply with the sunscreen provisions.
SB434 - DO PASS Yeas: 8; Nays: 2; (Voted on 02/13)
Study committee. Urges the legislative council to assign to the education interim study committee the task of studying: (1) the current regulatory framework and methods to streamline regulatory compliance; and (2) the use of innovative solutions and public-private partnerships in delivering educational services and sharing of best practices.
Bills to Be Read by the House Ways & Means Committee on February 13
SB189 - Brief discussion. No vote yet.
K-12 funding. Provides that the budget agency shall transfer from the state tuition reserve account to the state general fund the amount necessary to offset a reduction in state tuition support if: (1) basic tuition support has been reduced because the amount of choice scholarships exceeds the estimated amount prepared by the legislative services agency and provided to members of the general assembly before May 1 of the most recent odd-numbered year; or (2) basic tuition support has been reduced because the average daily membership (ADM), the special education student count, or the career and technical education student count exceeds the estimated count prepared by the legislative services agency and provided to members of the general assembly before May 1 of the most recent odd-numbered year. (Under current law, the budget agency may make such a transfer if basic tuition support has been reduced because the amount of choice scholarships exceeds the estimated amount.) Provides that the amount of the transfer for a state fiscal year is equal to the lesser of: (1) the amount of reductions in state tuition support that result because the amount of choice scholarships or the pupil counts exceed the estimated amount; or (2) $25,000,000
Bills to Be Read by the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on February 14 at 10:00 a.m.
TESTIMONY ONLY THIS DAY
HB1039 - To be read 2/20/2018 - Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 9:00 AM, Rm. 431
Study of tax topics. Urges the legislative council to have the interim study committee on fiscal policy study the following: (1) Whether the annual limit on the adjusted gross income tax credit for contributions to a college choice 529 savings plan should be modified in some way to allow a taxpayer to make greater contributions earlier in the taxpayer's schedule of savings. (2) The implications of changes made by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to the allowable uses of 529 plans. (3) Whether the adjusted gross income tax deduction for education expenditures should be extended to include expenditures made in connection with the enrollment, attendance, and participation in a public school elementary or high school education program.
Bills to Be Read by the Senate Education and Career Development Committee on February 14 at 1:30 p.m.
HB1024 - To be read 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Heat preparedness training for coaches. Provides that head coaches and assistant coaches who coach interscholastic sports or intramural sports must complete a certified coaching education course that includes content for prevention of or response to heat related medical issues that may arise from a student athlete's training.
HB1074- To be read 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Various higher education matters. Makes changes regarding the: (1) conditions required to qualify for the renewal of a twenty-first century scholars program scholarship; and (2) award amounts to twenty-first century scholars program scholarship applicants who attend a private, approved postsecondary educational institution. Makes the following changes concerning the primary care shortage area scholarship: (1) Amends the practice requirements to receive a scholarship. (2) Amends the repayment requirements for noncompliance with a primary care practice agreement. (3) Allows the commission for higher education (commission) to impose and collect interest on unpaid repayment amounts. (4) Provides that, if the commission and a recipient of a scholarship enter into a new written agreement that complies with the primary care shortage area scholarship provisions, the commission and recipient may terminate an agreement entered into or renewed before July 1, 2018. Requires the chairperson of the commission to appoint a: (1) seven member student member nominating committee; and (2) seven member faculty member nominating committee. (Current law requires the chairperson to appoint a ten member nominating committee of five student members and five faculty members.) Modifies the procedures that a state educational institution must use to dispose of real estate (including any real estate acquired by gift, bequest, or devise). Provides that an applicant who: (1) does not maintain satisfactory academic progress as required to be eligible for a high value workforce ready credit-bearing grant; but (2) meets other certain conditions; is still eligible for the grant. Repeals certain statutes concerning: (1) the disposition of gifts, bequests, and devises of real estate to state educational institutions; and (2) matters that pertain to the closing process in the disposition of real estate by a state educational institution. Makes conforming amendments. Removes an expired provision.
HB1230 - To be read 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
School safety. Requires the department of education (department) to maintain a link on the department's Internet web site providing parents and school officials with resources or best practices regarding the prevention or reporting of bullying and cyberbullying. Requires the state board of education and school corporations to maintain an Internet link to the department's Internet web site on their Internet web sites. Requires the department to maintain a link on the department's Internet web site regarding the identification and reporting of human trafficking. Requires certain employees of a school corporation or an accredited nonpublic school to receive at least one hour of inservice training every two years pertaining to the identification and reporting of human trafficking. Provides that a school corporation's disciplinary rules pertaining to bullying must prohibit bullying through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer or through a cellular telephone or other wireless or cellular communications device. (Current law provides that a school corporation's disciplinary rules pertaining to bullying must prohibit bullying through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer.)
HB1314 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Students receiving foster care services. Requires the State board of education to, in collaboration with the department of education (department) and the of child services, prepare a report on foster care youth educational outcomes. Requires the department to, before November 1, 2018, and before November 1 each year thereafter, submit the report to the department of child services and legislative council. Requires certain information regarding students receiving foster care to be included in a school corporation's annual performance report. Requires the department of child services to, not later than 10 days after a child who attends public school is placed in foster care, notify the department that the child has been placed in foster care.
HB 1398 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Coalition of school corporations. Provides that the state board of education (state board) may approve a coalition of continuous improvement school districts (coalition). Provides that certain statutes or rules may be suspended for a coalition member. Specifies that the state board may approve a plan submitted by a proposed coalition that requests the suspension of all or portions of IC 20-30 (curriculum) only if the suspension is related to a specific goal of the proposed coalition. Requires, not later than November 1, 2019, the department of education to annually report to the legislative council information regarding the impact to a school in a coalition that includes the following: (1) The fiscal impact on a school that participates in a coalition. (2) The qualifications of each teacher who teaches in a coalition. (3) The type of future employment for which a student in a coalition is trained and the amount and terms of compensation (if applicable) that a student receives through a coalition's partnership with a member of business or industry. (4) The impact of a coalition member's participation in a coalition on the coalition member's graduation rates. (5) Information regarding where a student in a coalition later obtains full-time employment.
Bills to Be Read by the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 15 at 9:00 a.m.
TESTIMONY ONLY THIS DAY
Education funding. Permits the budget agency to transfer from the K-12 state tuition reserve account to the state general fund the amount necessary to cover the K-12 state tuition distribution amount when it exceeds the appropriated amount. Limits the transfer to $25,000,000 in state fiscal year 2018 and $50,000,000 for state fiscal year 2019. Makes conforming changes.
School corporation financial management. Provides that a school corporation's rainy day fund may be used to pay for teacher bonuses and stipends. Permits money in a school corporation's operations fund at the end of a year to be transferred to the school corporation's rainy day fund. Combines various levies into a single operations fund levy beginning in 2019. Changes provisions concerning the education fund and operations fund. Specifies the items to be included in a school corporation's capital projects plan. Changes the reasons for which a school corporation may appeal to increase the school corporation's operations fund levy for transportation purposes. Requires an appeal to increase or a petition to adjust the maximum operations fund levy for a year to be filed before October 20 of the preceding year. Resolves conflicts among various 2017 acts that take effect before the education funding and accounting changes made by HEA 1009-2017. Make technical changes.
School corporation financial management. Allows the distressed unit appeal board (DUAB) to delegate board authority, duties, and responsibilities to the executive director by resolution of the board. Permits only the emergency manager to petition the DUAB to terminate a political subdivision's distressed status. Allows the DUAB to adopt rules. Requires the attorney general to represent a member of the fiscal management board, an emergency manager, a chief financial officer, or a chief academic officer if the individual requests the representation. Specifies restrictions on school corporations that are designated distressed. Allows a limited reduction in employees for distressed school corporation after September 30 of a year. Specifies that waivers regarding the allocation of protected taxes apply only to distressed school corporations and not other distressed units. Makes changes concerning the Gary Community school corporation and its operation. Converts the Gary Community school corporation's governing board to an advisory committee. Provides that the Gary Community school corporation advisory committee may not hold a public meeting more often than once every three months and provides that any other meetings are authorized executive sessions under the open door law. Specifies that advisory committee may vote to fill vacancies and select officers of the advisory committee. Removes the laws concerning the Muncie Community School Corporation being a fiscally impaired school corporation. Permits the Ball State University board of trustees to adopt a resolution to govern the Muncie Community school corporation using a newly appointed seven member governing board. Requires that at least two members reside in the Muncie Community School Corporation district. Requires the governing body to engage academically innovative strategies. Specifies that only certain laws in IC 20 will apply to the Muncie Community school corporation. Specifies other conditions. Permits the DUAB to recommend to the state board of finance that the state board of finance make an interest free loan to the Muncie Community Schools. Establishes a fiscal and qualitative indicators committee to make initial determinations about the fiscal and qualitative factors to be used in analyzing the financial condition of school corporations. Specifies certain factors that may be used. Requires the fiscal and qualitative indicators committee to make initial determinations about the presentation of the factors and the financial condition of school corporations to the public and the frequency of updates. Requires the fiscal and qualitative indicators committee to report its findings, recommendations, and procedures to the state budget committee before being made final. Requires the DUAB to present school financial condition information on its Internet web site or the management performance hub (MPH)'s Internet web site. Sets minimum standards for presenting the information. Requires the DUAB to determine the financial condition of each school corporation and whether a school corporation should be placed on a watch list. Requires the DUAB to report to the state budget committee the process that will be used between contacting a school corporation about its financial condition and being placed on the watch list, including a report on what factors will cause a school corporation to be put on the watch list, any particular funding issues that may cause a school corporation to be on the watch list, and when the list will be made public. Provides that if a school corporation remains on the watch list for four consecutive years, the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents shall decide if it is appropriate to recommend to the Indiana department of education whether disciplinary action should be taken by the department regarding the superintendent. Permits the DUAB to enter into an agreement with a school corporation showing fiscal distress to establish a corrective action plan. Requires various reports.
Bills to Be Read by the House Education Committee on February 15, 2018 8:30am
SB65 - In Committee
Instruction on human sexuality. Requires each school corporation to make available for inspection to a parent of a student instructional material used in connection with instruction on human sexuality. Prohibits a school from providing a student with instruction on human sexuality unless the parent of the student or the student (if the student is an adult or an emancipated minor) consents to the instruction. Establishes requirements regarding the consent form. Requires the department of education and the governing body of a school corporation to give parents and students notice of these requirements.
SB297 - DO PASS AMEND Yeas: 12; Nays: 0; (Voted on 02/15)
Employability skills curriculum. Provides that the department of workforce development will establish standards that provide students with career and college planning resources under the Indiana career explorer program and standards. (Current law provides that the department of workforce development will establish curriculum under the Indiana career explorer program and curriculum.) Provides that, not later than July 1, 2019, each school within a school corporation shall include interdisciplinary employability skills standards established by the department of education (department), in conjunction with the department of workforce development and approved by the state board of education, in the school's curriculum. Provides that, if the department determines that the pilot program for instruction in and use of the Indiana career explorer program and standards should be extended, the department, in consultation with the department of workforce development, must increase the number of schools involved in the pilot program by at least 15 additional schools, if possible based on the interest from schools. Provides that the state board of education, in consultation with the department and the department of workforce development, may approve an alternative Internet based system and standards (Current law provides that the department, in consultation with the department of workforce development may approve alternative Internet based system and standards.) Establishes the work ethic certificate program (program) and fund. Requires the department of workforce development to administer the program.
Bills Yet to Be Assigned a Reading Date
HB1356 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Bullying. Provides that a school corporation is not required to report the number of incidents of bullying in the school corporation's annual school performance report. Provides that information reported by a school corporation relating to the number of incidents of bullying that occur may not be used in calculation of a school's annual school improvement grade. Provides that the department of education (department) must annually send notification via electronic mail or a letter to each school corporation explaining: (1) the school corporation's obligation to submit a report to the department containing the number of bullying incidents involving a student; and (2) that the department may conduct an audit of the school corporation to ensure that bullying incidents are accurately reported. Provides that the department may conduct an audit of a school corporation to ensure that bullying incidents are accurately reported. Provides that the department must report discrepancies of an audit on the department's Internet web site. Requires the department to conduct a statewide survey concerning the improvement of school corporation reporting of incidents of bullying involving a student to the department. Requires, not later than November 1, 2018, the department to submit a report to the general assembly.
HB1399 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Elementary school teacher content area licenses. Provides that, not later than July 1, 2019, the state board of education shall adopt rules to establish one or more elementary school teacher content area licenses that must, at a minimum, include an: (1) elementary mathematics specialist license; and (2) elementary mathematics and science teacher license. Establishes requirements to be eligible for an elementary mathematics specialist license and an elementary mathematics and science teacher license. Requires the department of education (department) to develop an incentive program to assist and reward teachers who pursue and earn an elementary school teacher content area license. Provides that the department shall make recommendations to the general assembly regarding ways to accomplish the goals of the incentive program
HB1420 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Various education matters. Makes changes relating to how parents of students are nominated and approved to be members of the commission on seclusion and restraint in schools. Provides that a student with special needs who has a service plan or a choice scholarship education plan may be admitted to the Indiana School for the Deaf. Provides that a student who is withdrawn from enrollment from a virtual charter school for failure to participate in courses pursuant to the school's student engagement policy may not reenroll in that same virtual charter school for the school year in which the student is withdrawn. Defines "education records". Requires an organizer of a charter school that is closing for any reason to establish a charter school protocol that explains to a parent of a student enrolled in the charter school the procedure that the charter school uses to transfer a student's education records. Provides that a Cambridge International course may be used for the following purposes: (1) As the basis for a supplemental payment to a teacher who teaches a Cambridge International course. (2) As one of the assessments that a student in grades 10 through 12 voluntarily plans to take. (3) As an additional curriculum model available to high school students. (4) As a replacement for certain high school courses on a student's high school transcript. (5) For a student's receipt of credits toward graduation by demonstrating proficiency in a course or subject area. (6) To place a student who is a child of a military family in the appropriate course when the student transfers to a new school. (7) For purposes of determining eligibility for various higher education scholarship and awards programs and amounts. Provides that each student who enrolls in a Cambridge course may take the accompanying Cambridge International examination to receive high school credit for the Cambridge course. Requires the department of education and the state board of education to provide that a successfully completed Cambridge course is credited toward fulfilling the requirements of an Indiana diploma that contains the Core 40 with academic honors designation. Subject to certain conditions, provides that an individual or entity must: (1) notify a public school regarding an alleged violation of law; and (2) indicate a proposed remedy; before the individual or entity may file a civil action or an administrative proceeding against the public school. Provides that after receiving a notice from an individual or entity, a public school may take the following actions: (1) Remedy the alleged violation or violations. (2) Make a written offer to settle a dispute. Provides that a proposed remedy offered by an individual or entity must include the following: (1) A specific request for relief. (2) An opportunity for the public school to offer the individual or entity the relief requested before the individual or entity initiates a civil action or administrative proceeding against the public school. Specifies that if an individual or entity does not notify the public school before filing a civil action or administrative proceeding, a court, administrative law judge, or hearing officer shall dismiss the civil action or administrative proceeding without prejudice. Urges the legislative council to assign to an appropriate interim study committee the task of studying the impact of litigation on school corporations and charter schools. Provides that an issuing officer shall issue an employment certificate to a student who attends a nonaccredited nonpublic school after receiving: (1) proof of age; and (2) proof of prospective employment. Provides that a child who attends a nonaccredited nonpublic school who is seeking an employment certificate from a school the child does not attend must also present to the issuing officer an attestation from the student's parent that the student is enrolled in school. Provides that a written statement may be submitted to the issuing officer via facsimile or electronic mail. Provide that the student may not work more than three hours on a school day other than a Friday. Repeals a provision concerning the transfer of student records. Makes conforming amendments. Resolves a conflict between P.L.217-2017 and P.L.250-2017.
HB1421 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chambe
School discipline. Provides that the department of education's (department) model evidence based plan for improving student behavior and discipline must: (1) reduce out-of-school suspension and disproportionality in discipline and expulsion; and (2) limit referrals to law enforcement or arrests on school property to cases in which referral to law enforcement or arrest is necessary to protect the health and safety of other students or school employees. Provides that, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the department, in collaboration with parent organizations and state educational institutions, shall, upon a school corporation's request, provide information and assistance to the school corporation regarding the implementation of the school corporation's evidence based plan to ensure that teachers and administrators receive appropriate professional development and other resources in preparation for carrying out the plan. Urges the legislative council is urged to assign to an appropriate interim study committee the task of studying the use of positive student discipline and restorative justice practices by elementary and secondary schools. Requires the department to conduct a survey of school corporation school discipline policies to determine the extent to which positive discipline and restorative justice practices are being utilized.
HB1426 - To be read - 2/21/2018 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
Education matters. Urges the legislative council during the 2018 through 2020 interims to assign to the education interim study committee the task of studying issues relating to a school corporation's ability to provide adequate career counseling to students. Requires the state board of education (state board) to establish one Indiana diploma for individuals who successfully complete high school graduation requirements. (Current law establishes four different diplomas.) Provides that each Indiana diploma must include one of the following designations: (1) General designation. (2) Core 40 designation. (3) Core 40 with academic honors designation. (4) Core 40 with technical honors designation. Requires the state board to create an alternate diploma for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Requires, in adopting Core 40 curriculum models, the state board to consider math course requirements other than Algebra II. Allows the state board to adopt rules to establish: (1) math course requirements; and (2) science course requirements; for the Core 40 curriculum models. Repeals provisions that: (1) require the state board to design a high school diploma for the high school fast track program; and (2) establish a subcommittee to make recommendations regarding diplomas and certain course requirements and develop the requirements for a career and technical education diploma. Provides that, for each school year beginning after June 30, 2019, a high school shall administer as part of the statewide assessment a nationally recognized college entrance exam. Eliminates the requirement of end of course assessments to be administered as part of the statewide assessment program. Provides that a high school shall administer science as part of the statewide assessment. Resolves a conflict in a provision that requires the state board to develop guidelines to assist secondary schools to identify students likely to require remediation. Eliminates a requirement that a student must take a college and career readiness examination if the student is identified under the guidelines developed by the state board to likely be in need of remediation. Provides that certain statewide assessments must use a scale score that will ensure the statewide assessment scores are comparable to assessment scoring used as part of the ISTEP program, before its expiration. Provides that a student may receive a waiver from the postsecondary readiness competency requirements that are part of the graduation pathway requirements if the student meets certain conditions. Provides that the state board of education may authorize the use of the graduation examination as a graduation requirement for cohorts that graduate before July 1, 2023. Adds a provision to the list of purposes for which a charter school may limit new admissions to the charter school. Makes conforming amendments.
HB1002 - 2/7/2018 - Referred to Senate Appropriations
Reorganization of workforce funding and programs. Requires an annual workforce related program review by the legislative services agency. Repeals the training 2000 program and fund and the Indiana regional cities development fund, effective July 1, 2019, and provides for program phase outs. Requires the state workforce innovation council to review each proposed grant award by the department of workforce development (DWD) before the grant is awarded by the DWD. Establishes the next level workforce training and development fund (fund) as a dedicated fund for certain state workforce training and development programs. Dedicates all corporate adjusted gross income tax revenues to the fund. Requires the creation of accounts within the fund. Establishes the employer workforce training grant fund to provide money for grants to eligible employers that incur costs or expenses for training programs that allow their employees or prospective employees in Indiana to attain a work related degree, certification, or credential. Requires the state board of education, when establishing an apprenticeship as a graduation pathway requirement, to establish as an apprenticeship only an apprenticeship program registered under the federal National Apprenticeship Act or another federal apprenticeship program administered by the United States Department of Labor. Provides that an emancipated student or the parent of a student enrolled in a career or technical course may voluntarily release information, on a form prescribed by the department of education, pertaining to the student's enrollment in the career and technical education course to potential employers that contact the school to recruit students with particular career and technical skills. Requires the DWD to: (1) develop information regarding workforce needs in Indiana; (2) assign at least two existing employees at each one stop center (one stop centers provide access to services required by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014) to work with school counselors; and (3) upon request of a school corporation, make a presentation to middle school and high school counselors. Transforms Ivy Tech Community College's regional boards of trustees to campus boards of trustees. Specifies that an individual who is enrolled as a part-time post-secondary student, regardless of whether a part-time student is qualified to receive an adult student grant, may participate in the employment aid readiness network (EARN) Indiana program. Specifies that certain requirements regarding educational qualifications of nursing faculty members are suspended from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2024. Requires the family and social services administration and the Indiana department of transportation to perform a coordinated study on leveraging money for transportation to workforce related programs. Revises eligibility criteria for applicants for high value workforce ready credit-bearing grants. Provides that if the demand for high value workforce ready credit-bearing grants exceeds the appropriation, the commission for higher education shall prioritize applicants who are classified as independent. Requires workforce and education information as part of the biennial budget report that is submitted to the governor and state budget committee for preparation of the governor's proposed budget bill. Makes conforming amendments.
HB1242 - 2/1/2018 - Referred to Senate Appropriation
Resident tuition for serving on the USS Indiana. Provides that, after June 30, 2019, certain persons who serve or served on the USS Indiana (SSN-789) are eligible for the resident tuition rate determined by the state educational institution.
SB172 - To be read - 2/20/2018 - House Education, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 8:30 AM, House Chamber
Computer science. Establishes the next level computer science grant program (program) and the next level computer science fund (fund) to award grants, after June 30, 2019, to eligible entities to implement teacher professional development programs for training in teaching computer science. Requires the department of education (department) to: (1) administer the program and fund; and (2) develop, in consultation with the governor's office, guidelines to award grants from the fund to eligible entities. Requires, not later than August 1, 2018, the state superintendent of public instruction to enter into a contract for professional development services. Requires the department to biannually submit a progress report to the governor regarding the: (1) development and administration of the program and fund; and (2) status of public schools in meeting computer science curriculum requirements. Provides that, if the department does not comply with the requirements regarding the program and fund, the state board of education shall assume the department's duties. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school to offer a computer science course as a one semester elective course in its curriculum at least once each school year to high school students. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school to include computer science in the public school's science curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
SB177 - 2/12/2018 - Referred to House Education
The Indiana high school diploma. Requires the state board of education (state board) to establish one Indiana diploma for individuals who successfully complete high school graduation requirements. (Current law establishes four different diplomas.) Provides that each Indiana diploma must include one of the following designations: (1) General designation. (2) Core 40 designation. (3) Core 40 with academic honors designation. (4) Core 40 with technical honors designation. Requires, in adopting Core 40 curriculum models, the state board to consider math course requirements other than Algebra II. Allows the state board to adopt rules to establish: (1) math course requirements; and (2) science course requirements; for the Core 40 curriculum models. Repeals provisions that: (1) require the state board to design a high school diploma for the high school fast track program; and (2) establish a subcommittee to make recommendations regarding diplomas and certain course requirements and develop the requirements for a career and technical education diploma.
SB217 - To be read - 2/20/2018 - House Education, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 8:30 AM, House Chamber
Dyslexia. Requires the following: (1) A school multidisciplinary team must include information about dyslexia in a student's educational evaluation if the multidisciplinary team determines that the student is eligible to receive special education and related services and has or has characteristics of dyslexia. (2) Information about dyslexia must be: (A) discussed by the student's case conference committee if information about dyslexia is included in the student's educational evaluation; and (B) included in the student's individualized education program if the case conference committee determines that the information should be included. Requires school corporations and charter schools to screen: (1) each student in kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2; and (2) certain other students. Establishes requirements regarding dyslexia screenings, notifications to parents, and dyslexia intervention services (including instructional approaches). Requires school corporations and charter schools to: (1) use the response to intervention process to address needs of students who are determined to have characteristics of dyslexia; and (2) obtain parental consent before administering a level I dyslexia screening or a level II dyslexia screening. Allows a student's parent to elect to have an independent comprehensive dyslexia evaluation of the student. Requires school corporations and charter schools to report annually to the department of education (department) regarding the number of students who were: (1) administered the initial dyslexia screening during the school year; and (2) determined to be at risk, or at some risk, for dyslexia. Requires a school corporation and charter school to report on the school corporation's or charter school's Internet web site certain information regarding dyslexia. Requires, not later than July 1, 2019, the department to employ at least one dyslexia specialists. Establishes the: (1) requirements for a dyslexia specialist; and (2) services the dyslexia specialist is required to provide. Requires, not later than the 2019-2020 school year, each school corporation and charter school to employ at least one individual to serve as a dyslexia interventionist for the school corporation or charter school. Requires, not later than the 2019-2020 school year, the department to ensure that each teacher receives professional awareness information on dyslexia. Requires the department to develop and update an Indiana dyslexia resource guide.
Say's Firefly designated as state insect. Designates Pyractomena angulata, also known as "Say's Firefly", as the official state insect of Indiana.
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Compiled by Meghann Goetz and Keri Miksza
Speech by Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer
January 27, 2018
Good morning. My name is Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer and I am here as a (new) board member of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education’s state organization (ICPE). I am also the chairperson of the ICPE of Monroe County. I am also the mother of 4 children who now range in age from 13 to 23. And it is in this capacity, Mom, that I have joined with other parents, and grandparents, retired and current educators, and spent the last several years speaking out against the very intense efforts to privatize our Indiana public schools.
It’s an important voice, I think, to speak as a mother or parent supporting public schools. There are a lot of things being said about what we parents want. If you listen to Betsy DeVos, our U.S. secretary of education, she will tell you that it’s about a parent’s right to choose the school that is best for his or her child. She says parents know best about what schools are the best FIT for their child. But the thing about “school choice” is that it is NOT about parents choosing, it’s about schools choosing. And many times, if your child has behavior problems, is learning English as a new language, or has some serious special needs—your child may not be the right fit for their school. And this is the problem.
As a mother, I don’t really want lots of choices. I want well-resourced, excellent schools for my children. I think we all do. And, actually, it’s not just about my child—this is about all of our children.
We want schools with teachers who are experienced and educated in how children learn and best practices. We want schools with certified gym, music, and art teachers. We want teacher librarians with well-stocked libraries and media resources. We want electives, extracurricular activities, and clubs for our kids: marching band, sports, Science Olympiad, robotics, photography, AP classes, and world languages. And, most of all, we want our kids safe and cared for. These are the things that all parents would choose if they could. But it was really never about giving parents choice. Instead, it was about giving some parents a choice. It’s about taking funding in the form of vouchers and charter schools away from the whole to give to a select few and it’s about the destruction of our public education system.
I began my involvement about 8 years ago. Our school system, like many others across the state, was in a bit of crisis. Then-governor Mitch Daniels had cut $300 million from our public education budget. ($300 million, by the way, which they have never given back). That meant about 72 teachers and precious programs were cut in our local schools in Monroe County. Our community then came together, from all walks of life, and put a referendum on the ballot in the fall of 2010, and we passed it. This entire experience, however, was a wake-up call for many of us.
A lot of us were suddenly paying attention. I had, like you all, heard about “failing public schools.” I certainly had my own critique of our schools and public education. The elephant-in the-room fact is that we have never fully committed ourselves to equity. We have never fully funded our schools to account for the poverty of some of our communities and we have never completely addressed the institutionalized racism that exists in our educational system. We have never committed ourselves in full to the integration of our schools and to their democratic purpose. And that inequality made public education ripe for the picking for the uber-wealthy and the zealots of free markets.
So, in 2011, in the name of the poor inner-city child, our state legislature passed a slate of laws that dramatically changed my kids (and yours) educational environment. Ideally, legislation comes from the people through our elected officials—we find a problem we want to address and our representatives introduce it into the statehouse and create laws that make our lives and communities better. But these education policy laws were written by a kind-of front group for the wealthy and corporate interests called the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
We first heard about it when Trayvon Martin was shot and the newspapers exposed the fact that the Stand Your Ground law was written by ALEC (in the interests of the gun lobby, etc.). ALEC is made of corporations and uber-wealthy business people like the Koch brothers, the Walton family of Walmart, or even organizations associated with Betsy DeVos who stand to make a LOT of money off of the destruction and privatization of public education. The testing companies, the profitable charter schools management organizations, the online education groups, and the hedge fund managers are all raking in our public tax dollars.
ALEC pays for conferences to woo legislators into adopting their model legislation back home. ALEC is a bill-mill and here in Indiana. They have been very successful. There’s even a reform package of model legislation on the ALEC website named after us! Our former governor Mike Pence has written the introduction to the ALEC “Report Card on American Education.” Many members of our education committee are or were ALEC members. Our House Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Bob Behning, was at one time the state chairman himself. We win the “reformy” prize here in Indiana.
What laws were these? The A–F grading of schools, teachers’ loss of voice in advocating for kids through the loss of collective bargaining, the draconian 3rd grade reading law which started the IREAD-3, vouchers and charters creating a competition for funding, a rigid 90-minute block of literacy instruction, tying teachers’ jobs and salaries to kids’ test scores, REPA3 which deprofessionalizes teaching by allowing anyone with a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in anything…who passes a test… to be a teacher. These are all ALEC laws. They were not backed by research of what are best practices in teaching. These policies were not created by educators. These policies are about what’s in the best interests of corporations and the 1%.
Seeing the writing on the statehouse wall, some retired educators got together in 2011 and created ICPE to fight vouchers and the defunding of our public schools. They understood the threat—where parents like me were just driving carpool unaware. But it has taken the last several years, the closing of our children’s schools, the growing class sizes, the stress of high-stakes testing, and the complete disrespect of our teachers, for parents like me to wake up and GET INVOLVED. And we are doing just that. Mama bears and papa bears are pretty fierce when it comes to our kids—and we won’t let Betsy DeVos… or anyone funded by her…harm our young.
There is a feminist saying: “The personal is political.” A lot of people for a long time have been saying, “I don’t do politics.” Or, “I don’t want to get political.” But politics is not about Republican or Democrat; politics is about your relationship to power. Our public schools, and the teachers and children within them, are caught in the middle of a massive power struggle. We MUST get political.
And this brings us to today. It’s been 7 years since Indiana started this grand experiment of letting the money “follow the child” away from our neighborhood schools and into other public schools or private, voucher, or privately-run charter schools. It’s been 7 years of children throwing up in stress over test scores that determine the future of their teacher’s jobs and the schools’ existence.
Since its inception in 2011, we’ve spent something like half a billion dollars on vouchers alone. Some of my ICPE friends have been looking at the data available on the Indiana Department of Education website about charter schools and, since 2011, it is well over a billion dollars in total that we have spent toward that experiment. But almost one in five charter schools have closed over the past several years and the total number of dollars going to those charters now defunct is something like $142 million!
Public-to-public transfers are also destabilizing our public schools. Even though a student leaves with the per pupil funding that would otherwise go to the neighborhood public school, you can’t stop paying for the lights, the building, the teacher—it adds up.
My friend Steve Hinnefeld writes an education blog called “School Matters.” He recently did a post on the money leaving Gary and Muncie. He notes “Muncie’s general fund, the part of the budget that pays educator salaries and most operating expenses, was reduced from $55.4 million to $42.5 million over the past six years, according to figures from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. That’s a 23 percent cut.” And it’s not just you’ve lost enrollment since 2011 to 2017 (about a quarter of the enrollment in that time!). Steve also points out, “The legislature has also adjusted school funding to direct less money to urban schools and more to growing suburban schools. Gary Community Schools get over 20 percent less, per pupil, now than they did in 2011.
Muncie also took a hit in per-pupil funding and only recently returned to its 2011 levels.”
The rewriting of the funding formula that saw more money going to suburban schools and away from urban schools was chaired by Rep. Tim Brown of the Ways & Means Committee. Rep. Brown said, during those proceedings, “Did Mary’s mother get arrested the night before? Did Johnny not come with shoes to school? Those to me are not core issues of education.” But they are…
Our kids have a constitutional right to a free public education. It says: “Knowledge and learning, … being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage … and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.” It doesn’t say Indiana children have the “option to choose” or “a good education-- if you can get it.”
Charter schools—some of them are very good, some much worse, but as a whole, almost the same as public schools—require there to be someone in the child’s life looking for options, filling out forms for a waitlist, providing transportation. Do we want kids to have excellent public schools only if they win the lottery?
Why are we destabilizing public community schools who lose funding and often engaged families to give a few kids a separate education? Do we have the money to fund separate systems of education adequately?
Research is showing that this school choice movement is segregating us further as a society. The National NAACP has called for a moratorium on charter schools recognizing that when there is little to no transparency in the budgets of charter schools, we often don’t know where the money goes and they are often not held to the same accountability standards as public schools. With no publicly elected boards like public schools, parents have no political power and no voice in decision-making at charters schools.
In our county, there is an ideological bubble of a charter school whose authorization ICPE tried to stop. Our local community public schools are very well-resourced and performing very well. The founders of the charter school wanted to be away from the public schools and wanted their niche, classical school paid for.
They were turned down twice by the Indiana Charter School Board and then they did what only a few states allow charter schools to do: they went authorizer shopping. In the end, they were authorized by a private, religious college, 2 and a half hours away—Grace College and Seminary. We had no ability to stop it. We filled the meeting room with local parents and community members begging them to not take the funding away from the whole to give to a few. If you want more classics taught in school, push your school board and administration for it.
They got their ideological school. Last summer their charter school’s board of directors spent about 45 minutes trying to decide whether girls should be allowed to wear pants. “We are in the business of teaching girls to be ladies,” one of their members said. He wasn’t sure they could learn this without wearing a skirt!
This school took $300,000 from a tiny school district in our area—helping seal the nail in the coffin of a beloved community elementary school that had low attendance and was expensive to keep open. Crying community members who had attended that school for generations, begged for it to stay open. Their school board didn’t feel it was sustainable.
The harm of siphoning public funds to private or charter schools is like a death by a thousand cuts to the whole. The choice for a few is taking choices away from the whole.
And what about vouchers? A voucher goes to the family to attend a private, almost always religious school. It doesn’t always cover the cost and, unlike how they were sold to us in the beginning, most voucher recipients have never set foot in public school and likely never intended to do so. They are also increasingly wealthy since the program began. You can make $90.000 for a family of four and qualify for a partial voucher.
Voucher schools are also legally able to discriminate and choose who attend. In my town. there is a Christian school that says they will not accept LGBTQ students because their “lifestyle” is prohibited by the Bible. If a student’s “home life” violates biblical rules, the school can deny them admission or expel them.
Many voucher schools have great freedom over the curriculum. There are schools like this one that received $665,000 in vouchers that would otherwise go to public schools, that teach from the Bob Jones or Abekah textbooks. In these texts they call Malcom X a “black supremacist” and refer to “Radical environmentalists” who “don’t just appreciate nature, but they ‘worship” it. In a pursuit of preservation, “environmentalists advocate for laws that hinder the advance of technology.” OR there’s this: “Satan did not want people worshipping God, so in the late 1800s, Satan hatched ‘the ideas of evolution, socialism, Marxist-socialism (Communism), progressive education, and modern psychology’ to counter America’s increased religiosity.”
About 4,240 Indiana students received over $16 million in scholarships to attend schools that use the Abeka or Bob Jones curriculum, according to 2016-2017 figures from the Indiana Department of Education.
If you take public money, should you be able to discriminate? Public schools’ mission is to educate all children.
The primary justification for corporate education reform is found in the narrative of “failing public schools”—schools where there are usually the lowest test scores. Whenever we hear about this, you can almost guarantee that they are the schools with the highest concentration of students in poverty.
What is the number number-one factor associated with standardized test scores? It’s the educational and economic background of the child’s family. That is not to say that kids in poverty cannot learn. It is to say that a child who spent the night in his family car last night does not care about long division in the morning. That children whose basic needs are not met, have a harder time concentrating on learning. And that learning does not happen in a vacuum.
As parents, we do want more than what is reflected on a test. We want our kids to follow their interests, be passionate and curious. We want our kids to be kind, to be creative, to think outside the box, to be able to resolve conflict, to persist. And, none of these are reflected on a bubble test.
Do we need to think about this ever-moving target of test scores and the scarlet letters they slap on our schools that correlate with free and reduced lunch percentages? It does not help me as a mother to know the magic that is going on inside those schools and what kids are learning and creating. But it does feed the idea of competition. And these policymakers/legislators are all about believing that free markets will be the answer to anything. The thing about competition is that there are winners and losers. And no 6-year-old should be on the losing end of equal educational opportunity.
When I ask legislators about this competition of helping kids out of “failing schools” and ask how it helps kids “left behind” in these supposedly “failing” schools, I hear, “Well, the public schools will just have to WORK HARDER.”
Think about that:
While the number of dollars in teachers’ paychecks are actually going down in some places and certainly not going up?
While the number of kids in each class goes up?
While the number of things that teachers have control over in the classroom goes down?
While child poverty and the opioid crisis goes up?
While the number of dollars due to money following the child right out of the community public schools goes down?
This competition is a farce. Comparing schools is like comparing apples to oranges. And it’s a diversion because our teachers cannot solve the ills of society alone. They cannot cure poverty.
Our legislature is shirking their responsibility to care for the most vulnerable of our society while blaming schools, teachers and kids for not trying hard enough to succeed.
Poverty is a societal problem and it will take all of us as a community to work together to solve. It’s an economic problem that involves economic development solutions. And, at the center of a solution to a community problem must be real power by including voices that have been marginalized and joining together all voices to effect change.
Democracy is messy and government can be disappointingly imperfect. But the answer is not to give up our power.
I am from Michigan where the state legislature took over their schools and their cities. It happened in Detroit, Flint, Muskegon Heights—places where the majority of the population is people of color. And what happens when you don’t have that public accountability through a vote? There are areas of Detroit where parents have little to no choice. There are no well-resourced neighborhood schools in their areas. Or they have no car to get their kids to where there is such a school. Choice? On top of that, when you have someone whose job it is to cut costs and there are no checks & balances with the community, you have the possibility of dire effects: look at children drinking poison in Flint.
We must get informed, organized, and vote.
Accountability in a democracy is found in the voting booth.
Schools are not businesses or factories; they are places where our children learn what they need to be citizens of this country. It’s where they come together with people who are different than they are and learn to respect and celebrate those differences. Now more than ever we need this in our country.
Public schools’ purpose is democracy. They are reflective of our democracy and they are the heart of our community. Our fellow citizens, community members, who are accountable to us, not those who appoint them—are what puts the “public” in public education. Public schools are part of the common good.
Please join ICPE and help us defend public education.
"Our schools are being starved into failure in order to justify mass privatization” Timothy Meegan, Chicago Sun-Times
In the end, it’s not about my child, my choice. It’s about all of our children, it’s about the future of the country and our democracy.
John Dewey said it best: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely, acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”
The short session of the General Assembly beginning January 3rd will bring another frontal attack on public education to privatize education in a new way.
This attack will be in addition to debates about whether to fund controversial unfunded mandates for new graduation requirements passed by the State Board of Education on December 6th.
Demoralized public school educators don’t need another attack on public education. They came out in force to oppose the graduation requirements because adequate funding and specifics were not clear. The pleas of over 60 educators and parents who spoke against the plan were ignored by the State Board in a 7-4 vote.
Now a new attack is coming from a different direction.
Senator Raatz has again prepared a bill to undermine public school programs for special education students by creating “Education Savings Accounts”, a terrible idea promoted heavily by well funded groups that support privatizing education. The idea is detailed below.
The concept of “Educational Savings Accounts” for special education students is so detrimental to high educational standards and to maintaining accountability with public tax money that it should be rejected outright as soon as possible. It undermines the very concept of schooling.
After noting the huge problems of “Education Savings Accounts” listed below, I urge you to do three things:
Why would Education Savings Accounts threaten the existence of public education?
Why are Educational Savings Accounts so detrimental to education standards in Indiana and to accountability?
Changes may be made in new bills filed in the 2018 session. This list of serious concerns is based directly on “Education Savings Account” bills filed in both 2016 and 2017.
If this concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and Education Savings Accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or even the voucher schools to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money.
This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected by the General Assembly. If this concept is not decisively rejected, the future of public education in Indiana is bleak. Our hard working but demoralized teachers and administrators in Indiana would take this bill as a signal that General Assembly is ready to put public education into a death spiral, and some would make plans to leave for other states or other vocations, making our teacher shortage even worse.
This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action. Legislators should absolutely reject “Education Savings Accounts.”
Let your legislators, along with Senators Kruse and Raatz as noted above, know that you support strong and well funded public education and that you oppose “Education Savings Accounts” that would lower educational standards and undermine funding for our public schools. This attack must be resisted.
Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!
Vic Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!
ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.
Our lobbyist Joel Hand represented ICPE extremely well during the 2017 budget session and is preparing now for the 2018 session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!
“We have school to support American democracy.” – Suellen Reed
The annual Indiana Coalition for Public Education meeting was held on Saturday, August 26, 2017, in Indianapolis. The panel discussion was the main focus of the meeting with a small update on the past and upcoming legislative sessions ending the meeting.
The panel included the current and two former state superintendents: Jennifer McCormick, Suellen Reed, and Glenda Ritz. Marilyn Shank, ICPE board member, was moderator.
Shank presented six questions to the panelists:
Takeaways from the Discussion
Overall there was strong agreement among the three superintendents on all of these topics.
The Potential Loss of Federal Funding
McCormick was very concerned about Indiana schools losing federal title funding and Medicaid. She stated that Title II (Funding to increase the number of high-quality, effective teachers and principals) and Title III (Funding for English-language acquisition programs) were at greatest risk. Both total over $40 million. In addition, 140 school districts in Indiana—38 percent of all districts—receive Medicaid. Medicaid funds for support services from occupational therapists to nurses.
Ritz and Reed agreed with McCormick on the potential loss of federal funding. money. Money needs to be school based to help schools be more programmatic in their efforts.
School Programs and Services
Reed emphasized that the community must invest in our children. She asked us to consider all of the services that schools provide. We can't say to schools “Do it all”. There need to be community connections to get the variety of services the children need. Then the schools can use their money for education.
McCormick agreed but pointed out that many of the rural communities do not have the needed services available. She is working to reach out to those communities.
The Importance of Quality and Accountability in School Choice
McCormick was quick to admit that vouchers and charters are not going to go away. However, she then stated “if you take public dollars you should be under the same scrutiny as others that take public dollars.” It is a non-partisan idea that most Hoosiers could stand behind. She went on to say that Indiana has been a free for all with little monitoring of quality. She noted that the baseline of choice should be choice among quality alternatives. McCormick then drew on an analogy to the department of health’s role with restaurant safety and quality and how the state has the same responsibility with all schools—private, charter, and public. Quality and accountability should be expected from all schools that receive funding from the state.
McCormick also noted that many charter schools receive loans and when a school closes that loan is forgiven. She argued that there needs to be some responsibility for repayment of the loans and that the charter authorizer should bear some of that responsibility. Finally, she argued that if a school is taking public money that school should face the same accountability requirements as public schools. “We need to know where their money is going.”
Pre-K Funding and Mandatory Kindergarten
In a side note to the benefits of Pre-K in regards to closing achievement gaps, McCormick stated that she wants state legislators make Kindergarten mandatory. Currently the compulsory education statute in Indiana requires children to be in school from age 7 to 16. Mandatory kindergarten would reduce that to age 6.
Follow the Child Funding Does Not Work
Ritz strongly stressed the importance of the whole child and wraparound care and all the bits and pieces that go into providing an education for a child. She stated a couple of times during the discussion that “follow the child” funding does not work. “There are over one million students in Indiana and all have needs,” said Ritz. “It all boils down to money. The less you get, the less you can provide your students. And all schools are fighting for the same money to serve the same kids,” said Ritz. And yet, there isn’t enough money, which will lead to programmatic cuts. Programmatic cuts have and will continue occur primarily in rural and urban schools.
Are Muncie and Gary Outliers?
Muncie and Gary school corporations are being taken over by the State because of their financial problems. Both Reed and Ritz felt that Muncie and Gary are just the beginning. The financial problems will increase and more schools will be taken over.
Ritz explained the problem as follows. Districts are losing money, but if they cut programs then the schools will be less attractive to parents and enrollment will continue to fall. If they consolidate and close a school, a charter can come in and take over the building while not having to provide all the programs a public school provides. So, while districts might know they are in financial trouble, many don't see any way out. Reed agreed with Ritz, noting that even when she was superintendent, there were known financial problems in both districts.
In contrast, McCormick was adamant that Muncie and Gary were outlier school districts. She said that the schools had been in financial trouble for a long time but no one reached out to offer them guidance and support. One of her initiatives is to be proactive in working with districts. She wants to look at districts that are skirting the financial problems, see what lessons can be taken away, and then share those and provide others support as she sees a corporation getting into financial problems.
All three contributed a collective summation that the ISTEP is necessary for federal funding but it doesn’t have an impact on the child. ISTEP is a summative test while school-run tests measure growth. As of this school year, the districts and state are under a new federal accountability system that is unfortunately directly tied to assessment. The ISTEP was not created to rank school and grade teacher performance, however it has been used to do that. The ISTEP is too long and they hope that the ILEARN will be shorter.
McCormick noted that the new education act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows for considerable flexibility in testing strategy—allowing districts to develop their own testing approach as long as it meets as long as it meets reliability and predictability standards. However, she noted that there has been little appetite for it at the state level.
McCormick also noted that much of the talk about testing strategy and content ignores the important links between what and how we test and the design and content of other parts of the education system.
Finally Reed pointed out that tests should only be used for the purposes they were designed for. We need different tests and testing strategies to evaluate students, schools, and teachers. Ritz returned to the freedom ESSA gives states in designing tests but, in agreeing with McCormick, she notes the state has been unwilling to provide that freedom.
All three stressed how important it is to be engaged in your local schools. It is important to be an informed voter, even run for school board, and to volunteer at your local schools. Only then through volunteering will you see the good things that are happening in your local schools.
Joel Hand provided the legislative update, which was incredibly brief due to the time remaining in the meeting. 2018 is a short session as there is no state budget to pass. Things to keep an eye on include voucher expansion efforts such educational savings accounts. The summer study committees are beginning to meet. That will give a view into what bills might appear during the upcoming session.
Hand closed the meeting with the following statement:
“ICPE is funded by individual members.
Without you, we don’t exist.
We are the reflection of you.
Please join ICPE and help us support public schools ”
We, ICPE-Monroe County, couldn't agree more! Please join us and maintain your membership.
Join us donorbox.org/join-icpe-monroe-countyhere.
— Tom Duffy and Keri Miksza
Photos taken by Tom Duffy.