State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to State Board of Education member Brad Oliver after returning from a recess during which her staff and representatives of the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashed out a motion for the panel to approve a conceptual framework for a new A-F grading system.
The motion would have brought in the staff of Governor Mike Pence’s new education agency to review the Common Core State Standards. Ritz blocked it because she was sure was “improper” and would violate state law — not to mention undercut her Department of Education.
And that motion was proper after all, staff for Indiana’s Attorney General told Ritz and board members Thursday.
The decision may come three weeks after the fact, but it’s a victory for the member who made the motion, Brad Oliver, and remains relevant as a deadline for approving new standards draws closer.
Governor Mike Pence speaks to Indiana Republicans gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium on Election Night 2012.
Governor Mike Pence unveiled his legislative agenda Thursday and two of his biggest priorities directly impact education. One is a pre-K voucher program. The other is the phase-out of a tax on business equipment that could impact school funding, reports Brandon Smith:
Eliminating the [business personal property tax] would cut off about $1 billion dollars to local communities. But Pence calls it a disadvantage in the state’s competition for jobs and investment. And he says he will discuss with the legislature ways to replace the money local communities will lose.
Pence is also proposing a pre-K voucher program, saying the time has come to provide access to pre-kindergarten education for all disadvantaged Hoosier children. Continue Reading →
Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across their desktops. Santana is in her second year at the school.
Her shoes kicked off, a white board in hand, teacher Amber Santana is leading multiplication drills with her fourth graders at Evansville’s Glenwood Leadership Academy — while standing on their desks.
Standing just outside the third-year teacher’s room, Glenwood principal Tamara Skinner smiles.
“I realize that’s a bit unorthodox,” Skinner says, but Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation leaders say that’s the kind of vitality they hope to see in its staff — vitality that’s key to turning the troubled school around.
Teachers were burning out when Skinner took the principal’s job at Glenwood last school year. The school had a discipline problem. Its student body turns over often as kids from the largely-poor neighborhoods on Evansville’s south side moved from school to school.
Now, four private citizens are filing suit against the State Board of Education on the same grounds: that board members, in essence, met over email without her knowledge, violating Indiana’s public meeting laws.
Two retired public school superintendents — Lafayette’s Ed Eiler and Merrillville’s Tony Lux — joined Bloomington education activist Cathy Fuentes-Rowher and Fort Wayne school board member Julie Hollingsworth in filing the complaint in Marion County court Wednesday.
As in Ritz’s suit, the plaintiffs’ claim centers on a letter State Board members sent to legislative leaders seeking their help in calculating A-F letter grades for schools. They say in authorizing the use of their signatures on the letter, the board members took “official action,” which under Indiana’s Open Door Law would have to take place in a public meeting. Continue Reading →
State Supt. Glenda Ritz takes questions from reporters after the July 19 State Board of Education meeting.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says emails from Governor Pence’s new education agency reveal an attempt to oust her as chairwoman of the State Board of Education. But Pence administration officials say that attempt is going nowhere.
The policy document floats the possibility of removing Ritz as head of the State Board. But the document also warns such a move “may have substantial political fallout,” and clarifying the chair’s role might serve the same end.
Ritz says she is committed to maintaining her role on the Board and preserving her authority to, in her words, “protect the voice of the voters” in the face of a plan to “take away authority statutorily given to the Department of Education.”
State superintendent Glenda Ritz, right, talks to State Board of Education member B.J. Watts during a strategic planning session on Dec. 3.
State superintendent Glenda Ritz says she thinks Indiana education officials can wrap up their review of the Common Core in time to have academic standards in place for next school year.
“Keep in mind we’re working from the standards we are currently teaching,” Ritz says. “So there will be revisions to those standards. The plan is for— the timeline is hopefully the State Board of Education will have final approval in April, and we’ll get out any revisions to the staff here in the spring.”
But some State Board members aren’t sure if that’s enough time to do their job property.
Right now most Indiana teachers are teaching the nationally-crafted Common Core standards the state adopted back in 2010. They’re also teaching what Ritz calls “Indiana academic indicators” — expectations for what students need to know and learn at each grade level to pass the statewide ISTEP+ test.
It’s an interesting question, considering the week began with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashing it out over the details of the group’s regular December business meeting. CECI spokesman Lou Ann Baker told StateImpact in an email the two sides had been unable to reach an agreement on the agenda in time to post it 48 hours before the meeting.
So Wednesday’s meeting will be what Ritz is calling an “orientation session” with representatives from the National Association of State Boards of Education on hand to mediate ongoing tensions between the Department of Education and Governor Mike Pence’s new education agency. It will still be open to the public, but board members won’t be able to take any action.
Advocates for closing Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary, left, sit on one side of the North Central High School gym during a Northeast School Corporation meeting on November 25. On the other side sit members of the Save Union High School group.
Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary will close at year’s end, writes Sue Loughlin:
The board met on Monday at North Central, with an estimated 500 people attending. The school district again had heightened security because of the emotion and volatility related to the controversial school closings.
Even before the board was finished with its series of motions, Union/Dugger supporters started leaving the meeting en masse, with some hurling angry comments at the board and those supporting reorganization… Continue Reading →
The same assessments also predicted the increases seen at the elementary level, according to superintendent Greg Parsley.
“Our Acuity test, which is a predictor test published by McGraw-Hill, gave indicators that we were going to have good things to talk about with the elementary schools,” he said. “And the same thing was there with the middle school. We didn’t expect to see the same kind of jumps, but we were expecting to see a slight increase, at least a following along of the trends of other state schools.” Continue Reading →