Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Parents Want A Say In School Turnaround Efforts

Rockville Elementary Principal Jeff Eslinger, right, watches as a sixth grade teacher helps a student with a math lesson. A turnaround specialist from the Indiana Department of Education was on-site to track implementation of the school improvement plan.

Rockville Elementary Principal Jeff Eslinger, right, watches as a sixth grade teacher helps a student with a math lesson. A turnaround specialist from the Indiana Department of Education was on-site to track implementation of the school improvement plan.

The School City of Hammond is removing principals at five schools that received failing grades as part of a state-directed turnaround effort.

But parents are protesting that decision, reports Carmen McCollum for The Times of Northwest Indiana:

The district already has notified five principals they will be removed. They are Hammond High School’s principal and principals at Hess, Harding, Edison and Irving Elementary schools.

Edison Principal Marsha Frey acknowledged the school dropped from a B in 2011 to an F in 2012 and 2013, and said there were too many children who showed low growth. She said the priority areas for improvement include focusing on English/language arts and third- and fourth-grade math students.

Parent Judy Flanagan said the principal and teachers are dedicated, and she’s witnessed teachers working with struggling students.

“I’ve watched Mrs. Frey deal with difficult situations. As parents, we understand our children’s grades need to improve. We strongly feel the grade of an F is a slap in the face,” she said.

Parents don’t always agree with the state’s assessment of their children’s schools — or what district officials do in the name of turnaround.

Last month parents in the Monroe County Community School Corporation protested a mid-year decision to reorganize Fairview Elementary in ability-group classrooms, a model district officials had success with at another struggling school.

But the district quickly relented, moving students back to their original classrooms and agreeing to work with parents to find a more satisfactory solution. Principals at Fairview and Highland Park presented their ideas to the school board this week, writes WFIU’s Taylor Killough:

District officials are recommending Fairview and Highland Park Elementary Schools use eight core principals and three intervention strategies that focus on individualized instruction, reduced student-to-teacher ratios, and increased time spent in core subjects as a way to increase student performance. …

Substitute teacher and Fairview parent Andre Love says he supports the new academic plan and is glad the school asked for parent input this time around.

“It’s not about one person, it’s not about one idea, but it’s about a whole community, and we need to make sure that not only our children are being taught, but our parents are being educated as well of this problem so our community can be greater.”

School officials say once the plan is presented to teachers, it can be tweaked based on what is and isn’t working.

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