Kyle Stokes joined WFIU/WTIU in 2011 as an education reporter and blogger for StateImpact Indiana, a collaborative reporting venture between WFIU and NPR News. He comes to Bloomington from Columbia, Mo., where he was a producer and reporter for NPR member station KBIA-FM and NBC affiliate KOMU-TV. Originally from Minneapolis, Minn., Stokes is a proud graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and an even prouder Minnesota Twins fan.
Carrie Hillyard, who leads the turnaround team Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation leaders created to assist five struggling district schools, speaks to State Board of Education members at a public hearing on the future of Glenwood Leadership Academy.
By the time Tamara Skinner had finished speaking, the crowd had come to its feet.
Skinner was one of several Evansville school leaders and community stakeholders who pleaded with State Board of Education members and superintendent Glenda Ritz for a chance to turn Glenwood around on their own.
“GLA is poised for success,” she added, “and we need time to exercise the game plan we have.”
Six straight years of low test scores — scores which rank among Indiana’s worst — have put the school at risk of state intervention or takeover. About 28 percent of Glenwood students passed statewide tests last school year, down from 37 percent in 2012.
The main entrance of Glenwood Leadership Academy, a K-8 school in Evansville.
Evansville school leaders will plead their case directly to state education officials Tuesday night, hoping to convince them their newly-implemented school turnaround plan will be enough to reverse years of failing test scores at Glenwood Leadership Academy.
Nearly three-quarters of Glenwood students did not pass their ISTEP+ exams this year, requiring State Board of Education members to determine if and how they will intervene. They could hire an outside organization to step in to help improve the school — or take it over altogether.
Glenwood would be the sixth Indiana school state officials had taken over in the past three years — if state officials decide to go that route. When faced with the option to set up a “lead partnership” intervention at an Indianapolis high school last year, board members declined after district officials hired an outside school turnaround team.
But state superintendent Glenda Ritz, who has said she’s personally disinclined to launch a takeover, isn’t ruling out any of the board’s options. Continue Reading →
Indiana House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, will push a bill in the upcoming session to create a “data backpack,” based on a new Utah law the American Legislative Exchange Council recently highlighted as model legislation.
Ms. Ritz has accused the governor of creating a new education agency to undermine her office. Mr. Pence says that was not his aim. But the tension, months in the making, has boiled over at monthly State Board of Education meetings, where Ms. Ritz and board members, who are appointed by the governor, continue to wrestle for control over the state’s education policies.
In recent weeks, Ms. Ritz, the state superintendent of public instruction, has sued the board, walked out of a meeting to prevent a vote and accused Mr. Pence of orchestrating a subversive “power grab” against the Department of Education… Continue Reading →
State superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to State Board of Education member Brad Oliver after returning from a recess during which her staff and representatives of the Center for Education and Career Innovation hashed out a motion for the panel to approve a conceptual framework for a new A-F grading system.
The motion would have brought in the staff of Governor Mike Pence’s new education agency to review the Common Core State Standards. Ritz blocked it because she was sure was “improper” and would violate state law — not to mention undercut her Department of Education.
And that motion was proper after all, staff for Indiana’s Attorney General told Ritz and board members Thursday.
The decision may come three weeks after the fact, but it’s a victory for the member who made the motion, Brad Oliver, and remains relevant as a deadline for approving new standards draws closer.
Governor Mike Pence speaks to Indiana Republicans gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium on Election Night 2012.
Governor Mike Pence unveiled his legislative agenda Thursday and two of his biggest priorities directly impact education. One is a pre-K voucher program. The other is the phase-out of a tax on business equipment that could impact school funding, reports Brandon Smith:
Eliminating the [business personal property tax] would cut off about $1 billion dollars to local communities. But Pence calls it a disadvantage in the state’s competition for jobs and investment. And he says he will discuss with the legislature ways to replace the money local communities will lose.
Pence is also proposing a pre-K voucher program, saying the time has come to provide access to pre-kindergarten education for all disadvantaged Hoosier children. Continue Reading →
Glenwood Leadership Academy fourth grade teacher Amber Santana leads her students in multiplication drills while pacing across their desktops. Santana is in her second year at the school.
Her shoes kicked off, a white board in hand, teacher Amber Santana is leading multiplication drills with her fourth graders at Evansville’s Glenwood Leadership Academy — while standing on their desks.
Standing just outside the third-year teacher’s room, Glenwood principal Tamara Skinner smiles.
“I realize that’s a bit unorthodox,” Skinner says, but Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation leaders say that’s the kind of vitality they hope to see in its staff — vitality that’s key to turning the troubled school around.
Teachers were burning out when Skinner took the principal’s job at Glenwood last school year. The school had a discipline problem. Its student body turns over often as kids from the largely-poor neighborhoods on Evansville’s south side moved from school to school.
Now, four private citizens are filing suit against the State Board of Education on the same grounds: that board members, in essence, met over email without her knowledge, violating Indiana’s public meeting laws.
Two retired public school superintendents — Lafayette’s Ed Eiler and Merrillville’s Tony Lux — joined Bloomington education activist Cathy Fuentes-Rowher and Fort Wayne school board member Julie Hollingsworth in filing the complaint in Marion County court Wednesday.
As in Ritz’s suit, the plaintiffs’ claim centers on a letter State Board members sent to legislative leaders seeking their help in calculating A-F letter grades for schools. They say in authorizing the use of their signatures on the letter, the board members took “official action,” which under Indiana’s Open Door Law would have to take place in a public meeting. Continue Reading →
Advocates for closing Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary, left, sit on one side of the North Central High School gym during a Northeast School Corporation meeting on November 25. On the other side sit members of the Save Union High School group.
Union Junior-Senior High School and Dugger Elementary will close at year’s end, writes Sue Loughlin:
The board met on Monday at North Central, with an estimated 500 people attending. The school district again had heightened security because of the emotion and volatility related to the controversial school closings.
Even before the board was finished with its series of motions, Union/Dugger supporters started leaving the meeting en masse, with some hurling angry comments at the board and those supporting reorganization… Continue Reading →
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