NPR’s education team profiles the recipient of the 2015 Substitute Teacher of the Year award, Josephine Brewington of Indiana.
After telling reporters at the end of this year’s legislative session that she will consider a run for governor, it’s looking more and more likely that state superintendent Glenda Ritz will enter the race in the coming weeks.
After a session full of education issues, including a bill that originally aimed to remove Ritz from her role as chair of the State Board of Education, Ritz expressed frustration with Governor Pence.
“After viewing the outcome of this general session, it’s caused me to have pause and actually look at how I might want to reframe what I might want to do to move education forward,” Ritz said at that April press conference.
Before she ran for superintendent, Ritz worked as an elementary school librarian, and gained massive support from teachers unions. She famously received more votes than Pence, and that support has backed her throughout the conflicts between her and Pence.
Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, writes that these same supporters are encouraging Ritz to pursue the nomination for governor:
Sources tell me Ritz is finding a wide array of encouragement to challenge Pence. The school of thought here – pun intended – is that Ritz is the best candidate to accentuate the deep education divisions that exist, and exploit them to bring out a coalition of educators, their wider families and friends, and the hundreds of thousands of moms out there.
Although Ritz had overwhelming support during her 2012 campaign for state superintendent, Indiana political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says support from that election might not translate to a gubernatorial race.
“The reason that she won in the general election is because she wasn’t Tony Bennett,” Feigenbaum says. “And that’s not how she would run in a Democratic primary for governor. So I think she would have to position herself a little differently and I’m not sure that the people who ended up voting for her in the fall wouldn’t necessarily be the same people that would vote for her in the primary.” Continue Reading
Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder says that he’s not worried about the cost of a freeze.
At a meeting yesterday, the Indiana Charter School Board approved charters for three new schools, two in Indianapolis and one in Gary.
ACE Preparatory Academy anticipates it will open on the Northeast side of Indianapolis in fall 2016 with a special focus on literacy for its kindergarten through fifth grade students.
Anna Shults, a former Indiana Department of Education staff member, will head the school, which will be located within the Indianapolis Public Schools district. Schults consulted with former state superintendent Tony Bennett during the application process, but said at the meeting that none of the advisory committee members will serve as employees of the school.
ACE Prep hopes to eventually enroll 432 students.
The board also approved the charter for the Global Leadership Academy in Gary, which will serve only fourth and eighth grade students during the first year, but hopes to eventually serve around 1,120 students in pre-k through twelfth grade.
Katie Kirley, the school’s director, said only serving certain grades is part of a strategy to “start small and grow strategically.”
The third school approved will open in either Perry Township or Clark County and be run in party by Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based company that already helps oversee three schools in Indianapolis. The school hopes to enroll 1,445 students, grades K-8. The group originally submitted application materials for two charters – but the board ruled that only one should be granted at this time. They told the applicant they they could come back to seek their second charter, pending success at the first school.
Seven Oaks Classical School in Bloomington – a charter whose proposal stirred up many Monroe County residents and educators – withdrew its application before the meeting. Board Vice President Matt Wolf said in a statement that the group is “exploring all options” that would still allow them to open a school in Monroe County by fall 2016.
Linda Hogan stands outside of the fenced in playground at Francis Bellamy preschool in Indianapolis.
Dozens of kids run around playing tag or using hula hoops and other toys. There are screeches and laughter and according to Hogan, this is the only opportunity some kids have to play outside, safely.
“There have been a lot of shootings within five miles of here,” she says. “So that’s why they tend not to be able to go outside like they would in other places.”
Opportunities like these make attending preschool important for kids from low-income families who might not otherwise get to attend preschool.
Since Francis Bellamy is part of the Indianapolis Public School district, families don’t pay tuition like at private preschools, but spots in public pre-k programs are limited and private ones are expensive.
This disparity in access to early education led to the recent push from the state to start a pre-k pilot program in five counties. It also led the Indianapolis Mayor’s office to create its own scholarship program.
Marion County is the only place in the state to have both the pilot program and a city run scholarship program, creating a supply and demand problem for preschool providers. But many in the field of early education hope Indianapolis can serve as an example to other cities on how to incorporate pre-k into the economic and education landscape.
The Push For Preschool At All Income Levels
For years, Indiana lagged behind other states when it came to educating three- and four-year-olds.
Up until a year ago, it was one of a handful of states not providing state run preschool, but last legislative session Governor Pence signed legislation creating On My Way Pre-K, a pilot program funding preschool for low-income four-year-olds in five counties. Continue Reading
The lottery for the Indy Preschool Scholarship Program (Indy PSP) happens this week, and approximately 1,300 of the more than 5,000 families who applied for the program will be chosen to receive a scholarship for their three- and four-year-olds to attend a Level 3 or 4 program on the state’s Paths to QUALITY ranking system.
Jason Kloth, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Education, says his office did not expect this many applicants, especially considering there is an estimated 6,000-12,000 eligible children in the city who qualify for the program.
“To see that kind of response in a fairly short window of time for a program in the first year of its inception is just exceptional,” Kloth says. “It’s just a testament to the great work of the United Way of Central Indiana and the Indiana Neighborhood Resource Center.”
Selected families will receive a letter next week, at which point they will have two weeks to accept the scholarship and until July to select a qualified provider.
Bloomington High School South is the only public school in the country creating electricity every time their students walk through the hallway.
Thanks to a new installation of tiles from London-based energy technology company Pavegen, every time a student walks over the tiles, the kinetic energy from their footsteps creates a few watts of energy. Right now, that energy powers the television that displays how many watts are stored on the battery, as well as two lit display boards.
BHSS students are using the new tiles to create educational opportunities for their classmates as well as younger students. AP Environmental Science teacher and Pavegen Project Coordinator Amanda Figolah says her students have already used the tiles for science and math lessons with more than 100 elementary school students.
“They’ll actually move through stations learning about solar power and wind power. There are demonstrations at each of those stations and also just about how we produce energy now in Indiana, which is primarily coal and fossil fuels,” Figolah says. “A second piece the other rotation is working on our Pavegen tiles to experience inquiry learning.”
Figolah’s students created these lesson plans based on state math and science standards, so students create graphs and practice the scientific method by writing a hypothesis such as, “will walking or jumping on the tiles create more energy?”
After a fight between two students last week at Northwest High School in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Public School officials are meeting Monday with district principals to review student safety policies and procedures, including consequences for students who post videos of fights to social media.
Video of a fight last week between a male and female student was uploaded to YouTube, and according to IPS’s website, an updated version of the Student Code of Conduct will address students who take photos or videos of altercations between other students.
A press release on IPS’s website explains the district’s stance on taking videos of fights and posting them to social media:
[IPS Police Chief Steven Garner] said that when it comes to cell phone video and social media, there are some disturbing trends that he cautions our students to avoid. Posting video of a fight on social media is not illegal, but it could lead to legal trouble if those involved were planning the video on purpose.
“If there were suggestion the fight was staged and recorded,” said Chief Garner, “we could perhaps petition the prosecutor to consider a conspiracy to commit battery.” In that case, the photographer could face conspiracy charges as well.
Chief Garner also stressed that video of an incident is not needed to file legal charges, either. Many cases are successfully prosecuted based on witness accounts and other evidence regularly.
The release also says the new Student Code of Conduct allows for the school to suspend a student who posts a fight video to social media. But from a legal standpoint, Frank Lomonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, says this policy raises concerns about free speech protected under the First Amendment.
“I feel much more confident that a school could legally tell you not to shoot the video in the first place than they could tell you what to do with it afterward,” Lomonte says. “In other words, if the school has a policy that says ‘don’t have your phone out during school hours’ or ‘don’t be using it as a video camera during school hours’ they can probably enforce that.” Continue Reading
The number of students passing the state’s third grade reading assessment, the IREAD-3, dropped to 84 percent from last year’s passing rate of 86 percent.
This is a preliminary rate, as students who failed can retake the test this summer.
The test has been administered since 2012, and if students don’t pass they retake third grade versions of the ISTEP+ and IREAD exams the following school year, which state officials say will likely lead to them being held back from entering fourth grade.