Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz currently serves as chair of the State Board of Education. Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana
The House today passed Senate Bill 1, the measure that would change the makeup of the State Board of Education, including removing the state superintendent as chair and letting the board choose its own chair from among its ranks.
In addition to removing the state superintendent as chair of the board, it also changes the following aspects of the board:
Adds two members to the board.
Increases the number of members with education experience from four to six.
Gives one board appointment each to the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem. The governor would still have 10 appointments.
Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, sponsored the bill in the House and says despite testimony to the contrary, the bill is not about politics.
“It is strictly about policy and getting the right policy in place,” McMillin says. “What we are considering doing here and what we are discussing here is giving the State Board of Education the opportunity to select their own chairperson and also doing some things differently with the board.”
The bill now goes back to the Senate so they can approve the House amendments. It could be sent to conference committee or if passed again there, it will be voted on by both chambers again before going to the governor to be signed into law.
To illustrate the differences between the two budgets, we looked at the per pupil amount for a variety of school corporations ranging from rural, urban, low-income and affluent. Hover over the bars in graphs below to see exact amounts:
Here’s a direct comparison between the House and Senate budgets for these school corporations:
The portrayal of Indiana in national media also affected the decisions of a more impressionable group of outsiders: high school seniors from other states considering Indiana colleges and universities.
Almost every day this month, hundreds of prospective students will visit Indiana University’s campus. They either recently committed, or are trying to get one last feel for the university before choosing a school by the May 1 deadline.
Liam Dixon is one of those students taking an April campus tour. He applied to 18 universities and has spent the majority of his senior year at his home in Irvine, Calif. trying to decide which one is the best fit for him. He recently settled on IU.
Liam Dixon, a high school senior from Irvina, Calif., will attend IU-Bloomington this fall. He visited campus for the first time this week, after reading about Indiana’s religious freedom law. (Photo Credit: Barbara Harrington/WTIU News)
Around the same time he committed to IU, the news of Indiana’s religious freedom bill reached Dixon in California, where he goes to school with openly gay students and lives in what he calls a very open-minded community.
“I didn’t know how to interpret hearing they were being so close-minded and conservative on this on specific topic,” Dixon says.
Dixon wasn’t the only out-of-state student to question his decision about spending the next four years in Indiana after reading about the law. The Admissions Office at IU received multiple calls and emails from out-of-state students and their families.
“These are families that have developed relationships with us and they’ve visited us many times and they’ve been engaged with us throughout their process,” says Sacha Thieme, Executive Director of Admissions for IU. “They just want to know that the experiences that they’ve had with Indiana University and Bloomington to date are going to be the same experiences they can expect in the future.”
Thieme says although the concurrent timing of the commitment deadline and RFRA was unfortunate, it helped engage prospective families with IU and learn even more about the university.
“We welcome families to ask questions, we welcome students to ask questions, we’re an institution of higher education we invite academic inquiry,” Thieme says. Continue Reading →
The State Board of Education will meet Friday to discuss this year\’s ISTEP+. photo credit: David Hartman (flickr)
The House education committee voted 8-4 today in favor of an amendment that removes language from Senate Bill 566 that would have allowed the state to use a nationally crafted assessment rather than the ISTEP+.
Michael Cohen, president of the national education consulting group Achieve, worked with Indiana when it pulled out of Common Core and wrote new standards. He testified to the committee today in favor of the amendment, saying dumping ISTEP+ and trying to make a national test fit Indiana’s unique standards could put the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver in jeopardy again.
In response to legislators that suggested taking an off-the-shelf test like NWEA and tweaking the standards to match the test, Cohen said that kind of change is not a tweak, but “major surgery.”
“We’re going to give control of Indiana’s test to a testing company,” Cohen said.
Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who helped author the amendment, says the test most people suggested replacing ISTEP+ with is NWEA, a test school districts currently use throughout the year leading up to the ISTEP+. The problem with using that test, says Behning, is it’s a completely different type of assessment and wouldn’t comply with state law.
“Reality is they (NWEA) have never created an end of course or summative exam and so Indiana would be venturing into totally uncharted territory,” Behning said.
Behning says the other issue with using an off-the-shelf test is most national tests are Common Core aligned and wouldn’t be able to assess the state’s standards.
State senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) chairs the senate appropriations committee and wrote Senate Bill 566. photo credit: Gretchen Frazee / WTIU News
Budget leaders in both the state House and Senate continue to advocate for dumping the ISTEP+ as the state’s assessment and replacing it with a nationally crafted test as a cost saving measure for the state.
As we’ve reported, the State Board of Education is in the process of approving a new test for the 2015-2017 school year. The current price tag from the Department of Administration, who selects bids from testing companies, is $134 million.
But Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, doesn’t want to take the route of creating a new test tailored specifically to Indiana’s standards, which is why he wrote Senate Bill 566.
If signed into law, SB 566 would allow Indiana to use an already created national test in future school years rather than hiring a testing vendor to create the ISTEP+.
Before Indiana chose to leave Common Core standards last year, it was part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which would have provided a national test. But when Indiana left that consortium to write its own standards, the state also had to write a test that tested the new standards. Continue Reading →
The bill would have allowed school districts to assemble a group of school and community members to help turnaround schools that receive an F six years in a row under the state’s A-F accountability system.
During the Senate Education Committee meeting Wednesday, members approved amendments proposed by Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, which eliminated much of the transformation zone language and shifted the focus of the bill.
Currently, turnaround schools are paired with a third party partner to help improve student performance, but after an Evansville school district found success with the transformation zone model, other districts wanted a chance to use that model.
The newly amended bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee and then the full Senate. The House approved the original bill last month.
Brother Jesus Alonso is an administrator at Holy Cross College in South Bend, and advocates for resources to help undocumented students go to college. (Photo Credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)
One afternoon on his way to work, Juan Constantino’s headlight went out.
“I had no idea,” Constantino recounts. “A cop pulled a U-turn, pulled me over he said, ‘do you know why I pulled you over?’”
If Constantino were like most students, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. He probably would have been let off with a warning and told to get his light fixed. But Constantino isn’t like most students. He’s undocumented and that means he didn’t have a driver’s license.
Constantino was charged with a misdemeanor. His family gathered the money quickly and posted his bail. Constantino went home, finished his homework and went to school the next day.
For undocumented students like Constantino, the threat of deportation is always present, and creates barriers to receiving an education.
Purdue President and former governor Mitch Daniels has not commented on the law, and a spokesperson for Daniels said “it is a long-standing policy of our Trustees that institutionally, we are not to take part in public debates of this kind.”
Michael McRobbie, Indiana University President
“For its part, Indiana University remains steadfast in our longstanding commitment to value and respect the benefits of a diverse society. It is a fundamental core value of our culture at Indiana University and one that we cherish. Indeed, in 2014 the trustees of Indiana University reaffirmed our commitment to the achievement of equal opportunity within the university. Continue Reading →
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