Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

257

Claire McInerny

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.

  • Email: clmciner@indiana.edu

Mishawaka School Employees Lose Collective Bargaining Rights

Non-teacher employees in the Mishawaka school district will lost collective bargaining rights when their current contract ends Dec. 31.

Abhi Sharma / Flickr

Non-teacher employees in the Mishawaka school district will lost collective bargaining rights when their current contract ends Dec. 31.

The Mishawaka School Board voted to terminate collective bargaining rights for school employees like custodians, bus drivers and food service workers starting Jan. 1.

This decision stems from the employees’ choice to not renew a contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees labor union, which ends Dec. 31.

The South Bend Tribute writes more about the issue:

[...] AFSCME’s bylaws prohibit members from contracting with another union under the AFLCIO umbrella for a year after disassociating with it, Steve Bolin the former union president said. Bolin contacted the Indiana State Teachers Association, which is not under the AFLCIO umbrella, and asked a representative to talk with the 3060 group, which represents 59 of the eligible 114 members.

Last month, Bolin said, the group voted in favor of associating with the teachers’ union beginning in 2015.

Then, “all hell broke loose,” Bolin said. “AFSCME has gone crazy on the (school) corporation, relieved me of my duties and taken over all of my duties.” Continue Reading

The Franklin Busing Case Looks Back To Nagy Opinion

A case over whether or not families should pay busing fees in Franklin Township has made its way all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A case over whether or not families should pay busing fees in Franklin Township has made its way all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The Indiana Supreme Court began hearing arguments Monday in the case against Franklin Township schools’ decision to eliminate busing services and replace it with a private service, which parents had to pay for.

As we’ve reported, parents sued, it went through the court system, and is now in front of the five judge panel at the state Supreme Court.

The Indiana Business Journal writes that lawyers representing the parents are citing another case involving parent fees in a public school system:

Continue Reading

More Indiana Students Could Receive Free Breakfast

School districts in Indiana can apply to receive meals through a national non-profit, Breakfast in the Classroom.

School districts in Indiana can apply to receive meals through a national non-profit, Breakfast in the Classroom.

Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, a non-profit which provides free breakfast for children in high need districts around the country, announced this week they are expanding into Indiana.

Breakfast in the Classroom is a separate service from the federal free/reduced meal program. As their name suggests, students eat the meal together in their classroom, while the teacher takes attendance, collects homework or completes other morning tasks.

The program does not stay in districts long-term, but provides breakfast for one school year in a way to encourage students who qualify to get breakfast through the free/reduced meal program to do so.

The Walmart Foundation funds the program, and a variety of education organizations work with the organization. They include Food Research and Action Center, the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, the National Education Association Health Information Network, and the School Nutrition Foundation. Continue Reading

Pre-K Pilot Beginning Soon, A Tight Timeline For Some Counties

The pre-k pilot program will launch in four counties in January, a quick turnaround since counties found out about their selection in July.

Sonia Hooda / Flickr

The pre-k pilot program will launch in four counties in January, a quick turnaround since counties found out about their selection in July.

After becoming law back in March, the state’s pre-k pilot, On My Way Pre-K, will soon become a reality. Four of the five counties are poised to launch in January, and applications for providers and families wanting to participate are now available.

The five counties selected to participate in the program weren’t announced until the end of July, leaving organizers in those counties five months to fundraise, select eligible providers and work on recruiting eligible children.

In the counties’ original applications, they outlined their short-term capacity for preschool students: how many spots are available, how many potential providers, possible sources of fundraising, etc. So not to say they started the process from scratch back in July, but five months before launch means things have moved quickly in many places. Continue Reading

Applications For Pre-K Pilot Now Available For Parents

The Indiana Charter School Board decides Tuesday whether or not to add a classical charter school to Monroe County schools.

pedro reyes alejandre / Flickr

Applications for the pre-k pilot program are available to families.

Applications for On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pre-k pilot program, are now available for low-income families wishing to enroll their children.

The applications are only available to families in Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties, where the program will launch in January. Applications for Jackson County families will be available later.

The application asks for basic information about the family including proof of address, number of family members, and proof of income. To be eligible for the program, families must earn an income falling below 127 percent of the poverty line – around 30,000 dollars a year for a family of four.

Children must turn four by the time they enroll in pre-k classes in August. If there are more applicants than spots available at participating preschool programs, applicants will be selected through a lottery.

Applications are due December 15.

Homework Not Just For Kids When It Comes To Family Engagement

Brittany McKee helps her sons Gage and Jayce Meza complete the craft that's part of the parent engagement night at Edgewood Primary School in Ellettesville.

Bill Shaw/WTIU News

Brittany McKee helps her sons Gage and Jayce Meza complete the craft as part of the parent engagement night at Edgewood Primary School in Ellettsville.

Indiana is in the midst of a transition year when it comes to education: new academic standards, an ISTEP+ test that is not yet written and a new pre-k pilot program launching in four counties in January. All of these changes create challenges for kids ages three to 18 – but despite the differences of each area, there is one thing everyone says will help solve the issues at hand: family engagement.

Family Engagement In Action

On a recent weeknight at Edgewood Primary School in Ellettsville, parents and grandparents stream into the lunchroom with their kindergarten through second grade children. Tonight’s event is a literacy-based craft night, and students are signing up for which teacher they want to read them a book. Teachers will read to the children, showcasing techniques they use in the classroom parents can replicate at home.

Jill Ferguson oversees family engagement for Richland-Bean Blossom schools and gives instructions to families before they scatter to different classrooms for the reading activities.

“Parents, I ask you, please get in there,” she says into a microphone. “Listen to how the teachers present the story, maybe it’s something you could do at home.” Continue Reading

Indiana Student Debt 16th Highest In The Country

Indiana's 2013 college graduates have an average debt of $28,466, the 16th highest in the country.

Christopher Penn (flickr)

Indiana's 2013 college graduates have an average debt of $28,466, the 16th highest in the country.

Indiana’s 2013 college graduates left school with an average of $28,466, according to a report released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success.

That makes Indiana the state with the 16th highest amount of average student debt, the same ranking from the graduating class of 2012.

The annual report looks at cumulative debt of college graduates from four year universities. The report looked at graduates of both public and private universities and found 69 percent of graduates nationwide have some amount of student debt.

One thing to note about Indiana’s student debt statistics is the 2013 average amount, $28,466, is slightly higher than 2012 graduates who left school with an average of $27,866. While the amount of debt is higher, the percent of students carrying the debt is down to 62 percent from 64 percent in 2012. Meaning less students are leaving college with debt, but those who do have more of it.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute was singled out in the report as one of the private non-profit universities with some of the highest debt. The report did not cite specific numbers but it ranked Rose-Hulman in a category of schools with average student debts between $41,750 and $71,350.

WISH-TV/Ball State Survey Shows Support For Pre-k And Textbooks

Policymakers and educators around the state have embraced the push for more high quality pre-k programs.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Policymakers and educators around the state have embraced the push for more high quality pre-k programs.

A statewide survey conducted by WISH-TV and Ball State University shows the majority of Hoosiers want the state to pay for textbooks and pre-k programs.

WISH-TV reports this majority is high, and the support pleases Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard:

82 percent of the people surveyed said such programs should be available to all children in Indiana. Four out of five said the state should pay for them.

That will come as no surprise to the people in Mayor Ballard’s Office.

“Support for pre-K is overwhelming in the city. We polled it. It’s overwhelming. Polled higher than anything we’ve ever done,” Ballard told 24-Hour News 8.

Another topic the survey polled is who should cover the cost of textbooks for students. As we’ve reported, Indiana is one of a handful of states to charge parents for their child’s textbooks. According to the survey, 68 percent of those polled would like to see the General Assembly approve a 3 percent increase in the Department of Education’s budget to pay for textbooks.

The full report, which surveys the state’s residents on relevant topics the legislature could consider, will be released Wednesday.

What A-F Grades Mean For Focus And Priority Schools

Generally speaking, the release of A-F grades this year brought good news; the amount of schools receiving A’s went up while the number of F’s handed out was the lowest in the last few years. This good news continues for schools on the Department of Education’s focus and priority schools list.

(Search our sortable table of 2014 A-F grades for all Indiana schools.)

First, a primer on how a school gets on the priority list and how they can be removed from it:

Priority Schools

The 2013 list of priority schools contained 174 schools. Following the criteria above, 16 schools will be removed from the priority list this year, and 34 schools could be removed from the list next year if they earn a C or B. Continue Reading

2014 A-F Grades Compared To Previous Years

First, the good news.

More As, fewer Fs. That’s the biggest takeaway from the release of school A-F grades, and a trend we’ve seen the last few years. More than half (51 percent) of the state’s schools are now A schools, the highest number in the last few years.

(Search your schools 2014 A-F scores on our sortable table.)

A-F Grade Distribution

Information from Indiana Department of Education

With a new assessment and a new way to calculate A-F grades on the way, next years scores are expected to drop across the board. Right now, the State Board of Education and Department of Education have not established either entity.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education