Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Peter Balonon-Rosen

Reporter

Peter Balonon-Rosen is a multimedia reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. Peter covers issues, innovations and reforms that affect Indiana education. He comes to WFIU/WTIU from WBUR in Boston, where he served as lead education reporter for WBUR's Learning Lab. Peter graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor's degree in American Studies and certificate in Film Studies. When he's not in the newsroom, Peter enjoys playing music, arguing about who's the best Ramone (Dee Dee, duh) and reading good fiction. You can follow him on Twitter @pbalonon_rosen. Email: pbalonon@indiana.edu

Ex-Indiana Schools Chief Opens School Board Consulting Business

Glenda Ritz, former Indiana superintendent of public instruction, will head up a new education consulting firm.  (Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Glenda Ritz, former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, will head up a new education consulting firm. (Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)” credit=”

Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s former Superintendent of Public Instruction, will soon work on education matters in a new role. She now leads Advancing Public Schools as president and CEO.

The company’s mission is “dedicated to advancing the nation’s public school system through partnerships with local school boards in the areas of advocacy and literacy,” according to their website.

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Report: Girls Of Color Face Harsher Discipline In Indiana Schools

A new report highlights the disproportionate suspension of girls of color in Indiana schools. (Eric Castro/Flickr)

A new report highlights the disproportionate suspension of girls of color in Indiana schools. (Eric Castro/Flickr)” credit=”

Girls of color are much more likely than white girls to be suspended from Indiana schools and schools nationwide, according to a new report.

Indiana schools suspend about one in nine black girls, one in 29 Latina girls and one in 50 white girls, according to the report from the National Women’s Law Center.

“We should all be very alarmed,” says Jasmine Tucker, director of research at the National Women’s Law Center. “Discipline is a problem across the board and Indiana is up there with black girls, in particular, being especially likely — about six times as likely — to be suspended from school.”

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6 Questions To Ask About The Purdue-Kaplan Deal

Purdue President Mitch Daniels Mitch Daniels on discusses the creation of a new public university. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood).

Purdue President Mitch Daniels Mitch Daniels on discusses the creation of a new public university. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

So, there’s been some big news going around the higher education world this past week. In a nutshell: Indiana’s Purdue University will acquire the for-profit Kaplan University, which operates primarily online.

Since this news broke, there’s been plenty of speculation about what it means when a public research university acquires a for-profit entity: Is this a way for a public research university to reach more students? Is this a way that a for-profit college can operate in “stealth mode?”

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Sanctuary Campuses Now Illegal Under Indiana Law

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana has officially outlawed so-called sanctuary campuses, colleges and universities that pledge they won’t share anyone’s immigration status with federal authorities.

A bill signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb bans higher education institutions from officially pledging non-cooperation with immigration authorities. If one does, the state would be able to file a civil suit and a court could enjoin the institution.

A 2011 Indiana law bars cities and towns from declaring sanctuary status or interfering with immigration authorities’ work to enforce immigration laws. This now extends to the role colleges and universities might take in protecting people who entered the U.S. illegally.

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Trump Administration Rolls Back Healthy School Lunch Push

Former first lady Michelle Obama might find some of the latest actions by the Trump administration pretty difficult to stomach.

On Monday newly minted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a rollback of school lunch standards championed by the former first lady, declaring at a Virginia school that the administration would “Make School Meals Great Again.”

The school nutrition standards have long been a source of controversy, making them a more likely target of the current administration.

Earlier Monday, CNN initially reported a more surprising cut — that the Trump White House would not continue the Let Girls Learn program in its current form. The initiative aims to provide educational opportunities for young women in developing countries.

However, administration officials later clarified that the program was not being axed.

“There have been no changes to the Let Girls Learn program. The Administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school,” a State Department official told NPR. “We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so.”

How Indiana Tracks Down And Educates Migrant Children And Workers

A student studies a sheet with fruits and vegetables in the Indiana Region 4 migrant education center's mobile classroom. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

A student studies a sheet with fruits and vegetables in the Indiana Region 4 migrant education center’s mobile classroom. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Alex Rodriguez dials an unfamiliar number on his cell phone.

“Yes?,” a voice on the other end answers. On speakerphone, the phone booms inside Rodriguez’s parked silver Ford Escape.

“This is Alex,” Rodriguez says. “I’m on the way to your home so that I can complete the enrollment for the kids.”

An estimated 3 million migrant workers travel the nation each year, following work. Depending on the season, Indiana farms employ between 2,000 and 20,000. And like anyone in the nation under 22, migrant workers and children are entitled by law to an education.

And that’s where Rodriguez comes in. He serves Indiana’s southwest region as one of Indiana’s six migrant education recruiters. His mission is simple: Find, recruit and enroll migrant children and workers for public school services.

Today he sets out from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Vincennes. It’s the closest thing he has to an office.

He often parks here and finds prospective students. After all, he says, everyone comes to Wal-Mart.

“Just a minute ago, there was a bus full of migrant workers from Mexico,” Rodriguez says with a laugh, as he pulls away. “I didn’t know they were here.”

The Indiana Department of Education runs a program specifically aimed at educating migrant workers and children. It operates across the state. Anyone under 22 qualifies for the public service if they or their family has moved for seasonal field or farmwork. Regardless of citizenship. Continue Reading

What To Know About The Indiana Pre-K Bill Signed Into Law

Indiana will expand state-funded preschool allows the program to extend to 15 new counties, ties it to the state’s private school voucher program and includes a controversial option for online preschool.  (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana expands state-funded preschool, allowing the program to extend to 15 new counties, tying it to the state’s private school voucher program and including a controversial option for online preschool. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

With little fanfare, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Wednesday that will expand Indiana’s pre-K pilot program.

The new plan will expand state-funded preschool to 20 counties, tie it to the state’s private school voucher program and include a controversial option for online preschool.

Currently, the $10 million state-funded On My Way Pre-K program serves around 2,000 low-income students in five counties. Expanding preschool access in Indiana has been a key goal of lawmakers this session, including Holcomb.

Under the new $22 million plan, any of the state’s 92 counties are eligible to compete to become one of the 15 counties included in the expansion. Lawmakers say rural counties and places with a lack of high-quality preschool providers will be prioritized.

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Legislation Sent To Gov. For New Indiana Test, Graduation Pathways

The legislature sent the governor a bill that changes the future of the state assessment system. (James Martin/Flickr)

The legislature sent the governor a bill that changes the future of the state assessment system. (James Martin/Flickr)” credit=”

It’s (almost) official. ISTEP+ is out. ILEARN is in.

Lawmakers pushed through legislation Friday to develop new statewide testing program known as Indiana’s Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network or ILEARN. The legislation also creates multiple pathways to meet high school graduation requirements.

Students would be able to meet state graduation requirements under a number of options. Those include passing end of course assessments, achieving a certain score a college entrance exam like the SAT or ACT, passing international baccalaureate or advanced placement exams or receiving industry certifications.

The state board of education would determine how each pathway operates.

The new test and graduation requirements are set to take effect during the 2018-2019 school year, barring any unforeseen moves by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

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Indiana’s New Pre-K Plan Expands To 20 Counties, Ties To Vouchers

Indiana's preschool pilot program would expand to 15 new counties and include a controversial option for online preschool under legislation heading to the governor's desk. (Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

Indiana\’s preschool pilot program would expand to 15 new counties and include a controversial option for online preschool under legislation heading to the governor\’s desk. (Barnaby Wasson/Flickr)

A new Indiana plan to expand state-funded preschool allows the program to extend to 15 new counties, ties it to the state’s private school voucher program and includes a controversial option for online preschool.

Currently, the $10 million state-funded On My Way Pre-K program serves around 1,500 low-income students in five counties. Expanding preschool access in Indiana has been a key goal of lawmakers this session, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The size of the expansion remains unclear, but under a budget proposal likely to remain intact, the state would double the program’s size. They’d dedicate $20 million to brick-and-mortar preschool annually – and allow it to grow in a limited fashion.

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Cursive Writing Finally Gets Its Day At The Statehouse, Kind Of

(Pixabay)

A stand-alone bill failed at the Statehouse earlier this year, but the penmanship issue got folded into another bill. (Pixabay)

“Should learning cursive be necessary?”

That’s the question Indiana lawmakers voted Thursday to require the Department of Education to ask school teachers, administrators, and school boards. A bill now heading for the Governor’s desk mandates the department to survey whether those groups are in favor or opposed to mandatory instruction of cursive writing.

Cursive writing, whether it’s crucial for schooling or a relic of the past, has been debated for years in Indiana.

For half a decade, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) has crusaded to ensure that Indiana law requires schools to teach cursive. The Indiana Department of Education made cursive lessons optional beginning in 2011. Leising proposed legislation each year since to require schools teach the penmanship style in which some characters are written joined together in a flowing manner.

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