The Indiana Supreme Court plans to hear a case about whether a school district can charge parents a transportation fee to bus kids to and from school.
The case, Lora Hoagland v. Franklin Township Community School Corp., centers around Franklin Township’s $475 transportation fee. A Marion Superior judge sided with the district, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision, sending it to the state Supreme Court.
“It should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.” Continue Reading
If you want to understand the high school dropout rate among Latinos in Indiana, Elkhart, Ind. is a good place to start.
Nationwide, the graduation rate for Latinos improved over the last five years, and Elkhart Community Schools is no exception. A few years ago, they saw one third of students dropping out, that number higher among Latino students. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman highlighted the district in a piece about the economics of improved Latino graduation rates. Casselman says students typically drop out when there is an opportunity to work a well-paying job, but that is changing lately: Continue Reading
Gov. Mike Pence released a statement this afternoon defending his decision to not apply for a federal grant that could have given the state $80 million to develop preschool infrastructure for low-income three- and four-year-olds.
We reported yesterday that the governor stopped the application process, despite the work the Indiana Department of Education and other state agencies had already done to apply for the money.
The grant was only available to states with little or no state funded preschool for low-income children, making Indiana one of 16 eligible states.
In his statement, Pence said the state can meet Indiana’s pre-k needs without federal assistance.
It is important not to allow the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs. More federal dollars do not necessarily equal success, especially when those dollars come with requirements and conditions that will not help—and may even hinder—running a successful program of our own making.
An important part of our pre-K pilot is the requirement that we study the program so we understand what works and what doesn’t. I do not believe it is wise policy to expand our pre-K pilot before we have a chance to study and learn from the program.
While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state’s objectives, when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion. Continue Reading
Governor Mike Pence has halted the application for a federal preschool grant that could have provided the state with up to $80 million in early childhood education funding.
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that an email sent from Pence’s office to the Early Learning Advisory Committee explains his reasoning for pulling the application:
In Wednesday’s email, Early Learning Advisory Committee Chairman Kevin Bain, a Pence appointee, announced that the “administration has decided not to submit the federal pre-K grant application.”
He then posted a statement from the administration. “While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state’s objectives,” it reads in part, “when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program for disadvantaged children without federal intrusion.”
The deadline for the grant was October 14. A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education declined official comment but said the IDOE spent a lot of time on the grant application.
Senator Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the decision. “The Governor owes those of us who have labored hard to get our state on board and see the benefits of early childhood education more than just a statement,” Lanane said. “It seems imprudent that we reject $80 million because of fear of some speculative ‘pitfalls’ and ‘unproven objectives’ perceived attached to them. I fear this is a setback for the advancement of the welfare of the children of our state that we know will be improved by Indiana moving swiftly to implement early childhood education.”
The developmental grant, issued through the U.S. Department of Education, is available to states lacking pre-k infrastructure to serve more than 10 percent of the state’s preschool-aged population.
Only 16 states are eligible for this specific grant, including Indiana.
Pence has not publicly announced the state’s removal from the application process and calls to his office went unanswered. Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved a new, state-run pre-k pilot program, which is only available in five counties and will begin in most places January.
The bus company that provides transportation services for students in the Gary Community School Corporation gave the district a Nov. 10 deadline to start payments on its almost $3 million debt.
Illinois Central Bus Co. CEO Steve Hemmerlein released a statement earlier this week saying the company told Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt if the district didn’t provide a payment plan the company will discontinue service Nov. 10.
Carmen McCollum of The Times of Northwest Indiana reports the company is worried about laying off employees if they don’t receive payment:
“ICSB cannot continue to pay for salaries, fuel and bus maintenance with no payment plan in place,” Hemmerlein said. “If bus service is discontinued, families of the 4,000-plus students will undergo significant hardship to transport their children to and from school, and the jobs of 100 drivers and staff will be eliminated.”
House Republicans announced their legislative priorities for the upcoming session on Tuesday, and education issues took center stage.
House Speaker Brian Bosma said the legislature wants to invest more in public school funding by “fixing” the funding formula.
“We have great disparity with some schools as low at $5500 per students in state and federal funds and some schools as high as $9,500 per pupil,” Bosma says.
To help close this gap, Bosma says he hopes to see the state’s economy grow by two percent over the next two years, because most of that would go toward education. Continue Reading
There’s an old phrase, nothing’s sure in life except for death and taxes. We could probably make an argument for standardized tests as well (even Harry Potter took an annual exam in his mythical, made up school year).
These tests carry important consequences for teachers, schools and students, and in Indiana this year, students will take a new version of the state’s standardized test, the ISTEP+.
Simply put, the test will be harder. The content of the questions is the same, but the format will look different. For one, there won’t be as many multiple choice questions. Another change is that students will have to explain how they got to their answer.
Why are we changing the test?
When Indiana passed its own academic standards this spring, Michele Walker, Director of Assessment for the Indiana Department of Education, and her team were charged with creating a test to match the new standards.
An assessment matching the new standards was also a requirement to receive a No Child Left Behind waiver extension.
Walker says another change the IDOE wanted to make to the test, is adding a more focused writing prompt. Rather than asking students to write about something inconsequential like whether the cafeteria should add cake to the menu, students will be asked to read a passage and write a paragraph or essay on a related prompt, using the passage for evidence. Continue Reading
When it comes to a math test or an English paper, an A-F grading system is pretty simple: get a question right, get a point. Don’t include a topic sentence, lose some points.
This series of mistakes and successes accumulates into a letter grade, telling a student their score on the assignment.
The Indiana Department of Education uses a similar process to grade schools and school districts, using the standardized test scores of students.
So last week, the A-F panel presented to the State Board of Education a new way to calculate these grades, and below are some of the main takeaways of this new system.
It’s important to note however, this is still just a proposal. The SBOE didn’t vote on this plan, but expects to make a decision at its October 15 meeting before getting approval from the legislature.Continue Reading
State representatives Charlie Brown D-Gary, Vernon Smith D-Gary and Senator Earline Rogers D-Gary are trying to gain support for legislation that would reduce the Gary School Board from seven elected members who represent districts of the city to five at-large members, three elected and two appointed by the mayor.
Brown says the current system of electing the school board is no longer working because the district is shrinking, schools are closing and consolidating, enrollment is declining and a number of financial problems are plaguing the district. He says past school boards with district representatives struggled to make decisions on closures, because everyone wanted to protect the schools in their districts. Continue Reading