Speech given by Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer
Location: Rotary Club in Bloomington
Thank you for having me here today.
I first got involved in advocating for public schools in 2010 when the state had just slashed $300 million from the public education budget and we here locally had to put a referendum on the ballot--working hard to bring back teachers & programs that had been cut. I had four children in MCCSC at that time and so, when asked to represent one of my kids’ schools, I agreed to go to a meeting about the referendum and wound up being a canvassing coordinator for the campaign. That referendum campaign of 2010 was a beautiful community effort—people from all walks of life came together in whatever way they could, to restore funding for our local public schools. We were very successful and much of what we are able to offer our students in MCCSC today is thanks to that effort and the generosity of the community and the continued referendum dollars.
Why did people, many of whom did not have children in the schools, work for and vote for giving this funding to our community schools? This is important to think about. Maybe it’s because people recognized that great public schools help make this area a great place to live. Maybe some people recognized that vibrant public schools also help improve home values and real estate healthy. I’m sure many either work or have a spouse, neighbor, relative , child working for the public schools. Our public schools are big employers in our communities. Or maybe people just recognized that all children should have the right to a great education.
As a parent, I have seen firsthand how four very different individuals have benefited from a well-resourced school system. My oldest went from being too shy to hardly talk to a kid in the marching band, to being given two leadership awards at the end of his senior year. My next child, the one who struggled with his emotions and temper in middle school, got through that time thanks to patient teachers and principals who understood adolescent behavior—and he is graduating with honors from IU next month. My daughter loved the peer tutoring class where she worked with kids in the self-contained special education classroom. She loved feeling helpful and every day she looked forward to being with the friends she made there. My middle schooler is a book worm thanks to his elementary school librarian who Skyped with authors and encouraged the love of reading.
I tell you these stories to illustrate the depth and richness of the educational experience for my kids because it is reflective of what all kids should have access to in our public school system in Indiana. Every child should have access to the extracurriculars like marching band; every child should have certified licensed, experienced teachers who understand child development; every child should be in an integrated setting and learn from others who are different than they are; every child should have a school librarian with a well-resourced library. Sadly, this is not always the case. Where my kids have benefited from a teacher librarian at their schools, our neighbors in surrounding districts only have the state-mandated one librarian to the entire school district. Other neighboring schools have just one social worker to share between two small rural school districts. There are schools that are crumbling in Indiana and others are not able to afford enough nurses. We have large disparities with what our public schools are able to offer to children from town to town…and it’s growing. The funding for our community public schools has not kept up with inflation in Indiana and we are feeling the effects. While the urgency around supporting public schools in our area may not be felt as keenly as it was back in 2010, the need to support our public schools is no less urgent now and the threat is continuing to grow.
This is because, following the $300 million budget cuts felt in 2010—(money which the legislature, I must add, despite sitting on a surplus of over $2 billion dollars, has never put back) …a set of bills was passed in 2011 that dramatically changed the teaching and learning environment in Indiana. Our Indiana legislature adopted the educational reform policies of charter schools, vouchers for private schools, and high stakes testing. They all came to the forefront of educational policy all at once under Governor Mitch Daniels and then state superintendent Tony Bennett. Pointing to public education’s so-called failure as justification, these measures of the “money following the child” or “school choice” created the situation we find ourselves in today of competing for dollars and resources, with tests used as the stick and carrot to control what goes on inside our schools.
It was in response to these reforms, that the Indiana Coalition for Public Education was formed at the state level in 2011. Recognizing the threat to the funding stability of public schools, a group of retired educators and community members organized together to fight for the funding and to inform the community. Several months later, we formed our group, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education of Monroe County. Some of our first founders were retired educators, many of whom some of you would recognize: Harmon Baldwin, Mike Walsh, Ron Jensen, Phil and Joan Harris, Carl Zager, Ellen Brantlinger and Roger Fierst to name several. I had met many of these folks on the referendum campaign and was happy to come to learn as a parent and concerned citizen. Eventually, we brought more parents and community members in and our fledgling group grew as we worked to support our local public schools, inform the community about legislation that affects funding, and continue to try to empower our citizens to act and vote in support of public education.
We are a nonpartisan group because this is a nonpartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike have love their public schools. Republicans and Democrats alike have gotten behind some of these reforms like charters and high stakes testing. But we not nonpolitical. Politics is about our relationship to power and public education’s future is caught in a major power struggle.
In order to understand the threat to our public schools, it’s important to understand the major reform issues because they can be confusing.
Indiana has the largest voucher program in the country. A voucher goes to the student 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, more than half of voucher recipients have never set foot in public school and likely never intended to do so. You can make $90,000 for a family of four and still qualify for a partial voucher. Schools that accept vouchers do not have to accept all students. They can refuse to accept students who identify LGBTQ or whose family does. They can refuse students who have special educational needs or behavior problems, or who are often those with lower test scores. This is why the “school choice” policy really is about schools choosing and not the other way around. There is no auditing of their budgets required by law so most of it goes unchecked. Since their inception in 2011, we have spent well over half a billion tax dollars to vouchers. The trouble is also that the state legislature has no line item for this cost and has never added to the budget to offset the expense. It is like a hole in the overall bucket of our education funding and it is steadily draining out as it continues to expand.
Another way in which public funds have been redirected from public schools is through the expanding charter schools in our state. Charters are often referred to as “public” schools because they are publicly funded and free to families. But they are not accountable to the public through a publicly elected board. They have different requirements and do not have to adhere to all of the education laws that public schools do, including having licensed certified teachers. We also don’t get choices about whether they come to our town taking students and, thus, funding away from neighborhood public schools. They are approved or authorized by a number of different entities in Indiana, places like Ball State, the mayor’s office in Indianapolis, and even the religious institution Grace College and Seminary. Every authorizer then gets 3% of the per pupil state funding going to the charter school. Charters were originally begun in the 90s as a way to provide some innovation and cut some red tape in order to bring back cool practices and ideas to the whole of all public schools so that all might benefit. But now that is no longer the case. Charter schools remain separate school systems in and of themselves. Every time a child leaves the neighborhood public schools to go to a charter, his or her per pupil amount of state money goes with him or her—the money following the child.
Now, some charters are very good, some much worse, but as a whole, their performance generally shows them to be about the same as public schools. But charters require there to be someone in the child’s life looking for options, filling out forms for a waitlist, and providing transportation and often lunch. Sometimes they have mandatory parental volunteer hours. That means that the kids whose parents are working two jobs or who are in some of the most dire situations are not going to the charter schools. We also have to ask ourselves, 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?
Virtual charter schools have been in the news lately as a glaring example of a lack of oversight. The online charter model has grown rapidly in Indiana such that there are now about 13,000 students statewide who login (or not) from home to go to school. Well, it turns out that last year, across 6 virtual charter schools, 2000students never earned a single credit of school despite being enrolled for nearly a year. That means $10 million went to educating students who never did any work or failed in every class. The state legislature is thinking about adding some accountability measures to these online schools and capping their funding at $80 million. One of the accountability factors they’ve been tossing around is requiring that all students actually live in Indiana because, apparently, that’s been a problem. Remember that bucket of money? This is another hole…
These are the schools you hear about when the legislature talks about “school choice” and creating a marketplace of competition for schools which they believe will create a better product. Remember: competition involves winners and losers. Do we really want a six year-old to be on the losing end of equal educational opportunity?
Public schools are succeeding. Our graduation rates are better than ever before. The opportunities we can provide to students are more diverse, exciting and interesting than ever before. Yet, it is the narrative of failing public schools and the need to quantify success that has brought about the third reform that has changed the overall climate and that is testing.
The state has changed the test so many times in the past decade that one can hardly keep track. This year they are rolling out a new test and I think they hope we parents will be pacified by the fact that it is no longer the ISTEP, they have renamed it the I-LEARN. It’s not really the test itself that most parents and teachers object to, it is the fact that high stakes are attached to it and that makes it become more of an emphasis.
It used to be that tests were used as a temperature check to just get an overall feel for where we were in education. But now testing is tied to punishment: things like the teacher’s pay, job security and evaluation, and the stigma of a letter grade on your school. Add to that the threat of a state takeover if you get four F’s in a row, and you have a pretty stressful situation.
Also: consider the fact that the highest correlated factor for a test score is the child’s family’s socioeconomic and educational background, and we can guess that the lowest grades will tell us more about the wealth of the students in that school than the effectiveness of teaching or quality of learning.
That’s not to say that kids in poverty can’t learn, but it is true that a child who was sleeping in his car last night is not as concerned with long division in the morning. Children do not learn in a vacuum. In fact, almost half of all children in public schools qualify for free and reduced lunch. These numbers are increasing. Children living in poverty need more resources. When we talk about the problem of public schools, we can pretty much guarantee it’s related to poverty. These kids come to us hungry or sick. They often deal with moving from place to place, violence, addiction, and all kinds of trauma. Success for these kids involves meeting their basic needs for safety and health so that they are ready to learn. Kids can’t eat tests.
But what happens when success is only seen as reflected by a score on math and reading? Well, if you’re not careful, many children can lose social studies, history, art and music, they lose time to play at recess and explore and do projects and put on plays and go on field trips. You create people who are wondering “what do I have to know for the test” and not interested in learning for learning’s sake. High test scores should be a by-product of excellent teaching—not its purpose. Most schools here are not solely fixated on tests. We have a community that expects us to educate the whole child. Other communities are not so lucky.
I know that as a parent I want far more than can be found on a test score. I want my children to be lifelong learners, curious, kind, to think outside of the box, to know how to express themselves and get along with others. The funny thing is, this is what the business community wants to.
When you look at the what the World Economic Forum came out with recently as the top skills they see as will be necessary in the workforce to thrive in the year 2020, their top ten list is:
1) Complex problem solving
2) Critical thinking
4) People management
5) Coordinating with others
6) Emotional intelligence
7) Judgement and decision making
8) Service orientation
10) Cognitive Flexibility
But instead of looking at these goals and going to decades of educational research and instead of listening to EDUCATORS THEMSELVES regarding how best to teach and enhance these skills, our legislature has taken it upon itself to assume that these things can be found on a test and has continuously sought to change the standards and pathways and tests and requirements to try to get us there, disrupting education continuity and frustrating kids, parents and teachers alike.
We need to stop and listen to our educators. They are the experts in education and they can get us there. There is a reason that teachers are leaving the profession. It’s not just that they are wildly underpaid in Indiana (we are dead last in the country for how much we’ve increased teacher salaries since 2002 and we are 35th in the nation for average of teacher pay), it is that increasingly the state has taken away the local control over what is taught in classroom and how and when it is taught…by mandating all kids to be on the same page at the same time developmentally with regard to test scores. Teachers are the professionals who know how children learn and when they learn and how to reach them. But we are not respecting them in pay, we are not listening to them. The state gives no money for teacher professional development to learn the latest practices, but they will, apparently, pay for them to be trained in firearms (a bill this session).
Consider the purpose of public education. Public schools were created so that kids could learn what they needed in order to be able to participate in our democracy. Not only does that mean they should be able to find what they are moved by and passionate about and good at in order to make a living and contribute to society, but they should also learn to get along with others who think differently, believe differently, look different than they do and respect and value those differences. We thought long ago about creating a system in which all children had an opportunity to learn and succeed. We worked as a country to ensure that that system of education was open not only to landowners, but the poor as well. We made sure it was also available to women, to people of color, to immigrants, and to the differently abled. It was about trying to ensure that all children had a equal chance at a piece of the pie. This is the promise of public education that, while never fulfilled, is deeply American.
Instead of a concern for the common good and a focus on ensuring that all of our public schools are supported, the narrative surrounding public schools has become about competition, free markets, and “my child, my choice, my tax dollars.”
Those tax dollars are put toward our common good. We don’t ask firefighters or police officers to compete for better services. We don’t take our tax dollar vouchers from the library because we want to buy our ownbooks. We don’t get a chunk of tax dollars to put towards a country club membership because we don’t want to use the public parks or pool. We recognize that there is great value in providing good roads, libraries, parks and services so that everyone can be better off and live in community with one another.
It’s not about just my children. It’s about all children. It’s about creating a world in which all children can succeed because the stronger they are, the healthier they are, the more able to create and produce and work and innovate and share---the better off we will all be.
Public education is a public good and a social, civic responsibility. We all benefit from its strength. The budget is being discussed right now. Ask your legislators to increase the foundational support for public schools to 3% annually for the next budget biennium to give all public schools a helping hand.
ICPE–Monroe County is volunteer run. We host a farmer’s market booth, put on forums for political candidates and forums about issues that surround public education—issues like testing, teaching, and literacy. We believe that our public schools are the heart of our community. We encourage you to learn more, volunteer for your local public schools and support them.
Our children depend on it.
The future of our country and our democracy does, too.
The “Celebration of Public Education” Monday in the Statehouse was a tremendous event! Thanks to all who came and thanks to all who were there in spirit!
As our outstanding rally speakers said, public education needs our renewed support and protection.
This is true this week in House Bill 1315, which would set troubling precedents to deconstruct the local control of public education if it is not amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Here are the four concerns about HB 1315 that I testified on in the Senate Appropriations Committee last Thursday, Feb. 15:
Chairman Mishler listened closely to lengthy testimony and said the testimony would guide an amendment he would bring to the bill at a later meeting. HB 1315 has not been included on the agenda for the next meeting on February 22nd so you have time to make your concerns known this week.
The bill needs to be amended. We need your participation.
Please review the details about each concern below and then contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed here as soon as possible:
Republicans: Senators Mishler (chair), Brown, Bassler, Boots, Bray, Charbonneau, Crider, Eckerty and Holdman
Democrats: Senators Tallian, Breaux, Niezgodski and Taylor
It would also help if you send a strong message to amend this bill to Senator Long, Senate President Pro Tem, and to your own Senator.
House Bill 1315 – School Corporation Financial Management
House Bill 1315, sponsored by Representative Tim Brown, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposes to restrict the voice of the public in the public schools in Muncie and Gary because district leaders over several years overspent their budget and fell into debt.
It also proposes to set up an assessment of the financial health of all public school districts, setting up a dashboard of financial indicators for all school corporations.
Concern #1: For the first time, a public school district could be governed by school board members who do not live in the school district.
HB 1315 as it passed the House on a party line vote says the Muncie city council and the Muncie mayor can each nominate a school board member “who must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”
The other five members will be nominated by the president of Ball State and are not required to be residents of the Muncie school corporation. Under this plan, school board members would be setting property tax levies when they don’t even live in the community. This would surely be the basis for a lawsuit regarding representation and cost the district significant money for legal defense which has not been budgeted.
This is unprecedented among current school boards and would be a major step in the deconstruction of local public schools in Indiana which began in 2011.
Ask Senators to return the public to the Muncie public schools by requiring that all seven members “reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”
Concern #2: For the first time, a public school district could ignore state law mandates to display the flag and to study the US Constitution and citizenship. Even private voucher schools are not allowed to ignore the laws on citizenship mandates!
HB 1315 turns Muncie’s fiscal crisis into a grand academic experiment “to provide all administrative and academic flexibility to implement innovative strategies”, in the words of the bill. It makes Muncie schools subject to only 17 laws which they must follow instead of the entire body of school law which every other school district must observe.
This would make the entire Muncie Community School district akin to an experimental charter school.
This flexibility goes too far. The bill actually removes the legal obligations in 20-30-5 for schools to display the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, study the U.S. Constitution, and provide non-partisan citizenship instruction at the time of each general election. No district should be waived from teaching students about citizenship in our democracy!
Ask Senators to have the Muncie Community Schools follow the same Indiana school laws that the General Assembly has told all other school districts to follow.
Concern #3: For the first time, a public school district in debt and financial distress could lose its public school board in favor of an “advisory committee”.
The Gary Public Schools are already under control of an emergency manager who has full control of all district decisions under legislation passed last year in 2017. The powers of the school board have been suspended until the emergency manager recommends to the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) that the financial crisis has been repaired and that a return to local control is appropriate. This process could require several years.
Given that it already has no power, it is surprising that HB 1315 ends the institution of the school board in favor of a new entity called an “advisory committee” which “may not hold a meeting more than once every three (3) months.”
The institution of the school board has served Indiana well for over one hundred years. When financial mismanagement requires that an emergency manager take over to make budgetary corrections, the citizens of Indiana can understand and would assume that after corrective actions have been taken and financial stability has been restored, power to run the public schools would be returned to the local school board under new leadership.
Opponents of public education have long said that school boards should be dissolved and all schools should become charter schools.
Is this bill the camel’s nose under the tent for the proposition that we don’t need school boards which represent the community? Is this the first step to losing control of our public schools by community school boards?
Ask Senators to maintain the institution of the school board for all public school districts so that when financial distress and debt problems have been resolved by an emergency manager, local control can be returned to the local community through a school board, an institution that has stood the test of time.
Concern #4: For the first time, any public school district could be put on a watch list for financial mismanagement which could potentially be made public before detailed reviews have guaranteed the accuracy of the financial assessment. The confidentiality of preliminary data must be guaranteed.
Our generational question in Indiana is “Can the public have confidence in our public schools?” Any appearance on a “watch list” for financial instability can deeply shake public confidence in any school district, so any such designation must be treated with extreme caution and vetted for absolute accuracy.
Some have called this plan a “shame list” and point out the damage that could be done to public confidence if premature and inaccurate data is made public.
Ask Senators to amend the fiscal indicators section of HB 1315 to permit the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) to consider “watch lists” in confidential executive sessions so that no district will prematurely get a black eye in the public’s mind until accuracy has been certified.
Take Action This Week
Send the Senators listed above one or all of these messages to protect our public schools:
If you are concerned with any of these four points, it is important that you communicate your concerns to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed above as soon as possible. Go to the Indiana General Assembly website for easy connections to the email of Senators on the committee.
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 is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2018 short 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!
Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:
I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.
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
“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.
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— Tom Duffy and Keri Miksza
Photos taken by Tom Duffy.