Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

275

Rachel Morello

Rachel Morello comes to StateImpact by way of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She has worked for various news and education-related organizations across the country - but no matter the locale, you’re sure to find her sporting a Packers jersey and tuning into “Car Talk.” You can follow her on Twitter @morellomedia.

  • Email: rmorello@indiana.edu

Pence’s Budget Asks For More Funding To Public And Charter Schools

Governor Pence unveiled his budget recommendations for this session, with education being the main priority. “I can’t tell you how excited I am about what I sense is a real common purpose that has developed in the months leading up to this session," Pence said.

Governor Pence unveiled his budget recommendations for this session, with education as the main priority.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about what I sense is a real common purpose that has developed in the months leading up to this session,” Pence says. (Photo Credit: House GOP)

Updated 2:57 p.m.: 

Governor Mike Pence revealed his recommended budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 Thursday, with education priorities demanding most of the funds.

But, Statehouse Democrats say the governor’s budget proposal doesn’t tell a true story when it comes to increasing education funding.

Pence wants to increase K-12 funding by two percent in 2016 and one percent in 2017, which adds up to a $200 million increase over the two years. Pence’s plan would fund charter schools more than in the past, allocating an additional $1,500 per pupil for students in charter schools. Right now, each Indiana district receives a minimum of $4,280 per pupil, regardless of school type.

“In the category of funding, the first priority of this budget will be expanding opportunities for our youth in Indiana, from pre-k education to higher education,” Pence said Tuesday.

Continue Reading

New Bill Calls For Appointed Superintendent, Beginning 2021

State superintendent Glenda Ritz listens to comments from the public during a hearing at Glenwood Leadership Academy in Evansville. (Photo Credit: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana)

For months, current state superintendent Glenda Ritz has been at the center of controversy involving the State Board of Education, a group she chairs. (Photo Credit: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana)

We’ve been hearing the same story for months: State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and members of the Indiana State Board of Education don’t really get along. People say the drama keeps the group from getting anything accomplished.

We may see a remedy for the problem during the 2015 legislative session.

Could appointing the superintendent, rather than electing someone to the position as is customary in Indiana, force the state’s education leaders to work together?

Old Problems, New Solution

Bickering has become somewhat of a norm at state board meetings. Issues of power and responsibility have made the agenda in addition to – and sometimes, overshadowing – actual education policy matters, and it’s become a major problem. So much so, that Governor Mike Pence made “playing referee” a centerpiece of his 2015 legislative agenda.

“To maintain our momentum and to implement new policies, we’ll also need to fix what’s broken in education in Indiana,” Pence said at a legislative conference late last year. “For education to work in our state, it has to work at the highest levels.”

Pence offered an olive branch of sorts by eliminating his education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, appeasing Ritz. The governor has also called on legislators to allow state board members to elect their own board chair, rather than let the superintendent automatically assume that role.

But neither of those ideas address what many people see as the root of the problem.

Continue Reading

Tame State Board Meeting Is Newsworthy In And Of Itself

After months of strained relations capped by proposals for some dramatic changes to aid group dynamics, the first State Board of Education meeting of the new year was…well, calm.

State Board of Education members Brad Oliver (left), state superintendent Glenda Ritz, and Dr. David Freitas listen to presentations at the January board meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

State Board of Education members Brad Oliver (left), state superintendent Glenda Ritz, and Dr. David Freitas listen to presentations at the January board meeting. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

The group met Wednesday to go over an agenda packed with discussions of school grades, school turnarounds, along with other big-ticket items – and for the first time in what seems like forever, board members tended to interact cordially with one another.

Particularly in the last few months of 2014, state superintendent Glenda Ritz got tangled in less-than-friendly exchanges with various board members, more often than not regarding issues of board procedure and authority. It all culminated in a decision by Governor Mike Pence to disband his education agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, which Ritz has frequently called a “shadow” of her own Department of Education.

Wednesday’s meeting was the second-to-last at which CECI staff members would participate. The group officially dissolves February 20.

Continue Reading

Teacher Effectiveness Ratings Call Evaluations Into Question

Less than 0.5 percent of educators received “ineffective” ratings during the 2013-14 school year, according to data from the Indiana Department of Education. That’s about the same percentage as last year, which is confusing to some as the ratings are based on a relatively new evaluation system that many expected to be tougher. The fact that it has not done so could lead the Indiana State Board of Education to make student test scores a bigger factor in the evaluation system in the future.


In the second year of what was intended to be a tough new system of evaluating educators, the results were the same: hardly any were rated ineffective and nearly all were certified as doing their jobs effectively.

Read more at: in.chalkbeat.org

What Is “Freedom To Teach?”

When Governor Mike Pence unveiled his legislative agenda last month, he presented plenty of new ideas for Indiana schools – but a few bombshell announcements overshadowed some of the others.

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. (Photo Credit: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana)

Warren Township fourth grade teacher Fatonia Shank and her students crow around a laptop to look at a document. (Photo Credit: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana)

Some of Pence’s initiatives that received less attention involve familiar-sounding concepts such as modifying the K-12 school funding formula, setting up transformation zones to turn around failing schools and investing more money in career and technical education at the high school level.

One brand-new idea Pence introduced was something he called “Freedom To Teach.”

The program would essentially be a teacher innovation fund, giving the State Board of Education authority to grant schools waivers from some requirements in state regulations that guide teacher compensation. To qualify, school districts would be required to submit proposals showing how they plan to “innovate and refocus resources on the classroom.”

Continue Reading

Senators Will Push To Rewrite No Child Left Behind This Year

A group of Republican senators in Congress – specifically the leaders of the Senate and House education committees – want to spearhead an overhaul of the country’s main K-12 education law, No Child Left Behind. The effort will undoubtedly spark conversations about a number of politically contentious issues, including standardized testing and federal oversight in education.


Republicans are hatching an ambitious plan to rewrite No Child Left Behind next year – one that could end up dramatically rolling back the federal role in education and trigger national blowouts over standardized tests and teacher training. NCLB cleared Congress in 2002 with massive bipartisan support but has since become a political catastrophe:…

Read more at: www.politico.com

For Indiana Education in 2015, Money Matters

What’s your new year’s resolution?

As we’ve mentioned, the Indiana General Assembly has promised to try to balance the budget in the upcoming 2015 legislative session without increasing taxes. But even after they ring in the new year, the subject of money will be impossible to ignore.

Funding is an issue at the heart of many of the programs and projects Indiana will see in place in 2015. (Photo Credit: Teddy James/Flickr)

Funding is an issue at the heart of many of the programs and projects Indiana will see in place in 2015. (Photo Credit: Teddy James/Flickr)

Funding is at the core of many of the stories we expect to be big this year – testing, pre-k, and how the Department of Education and the State Board of Education agree (or disagree) to spend the state’s education money.

We’ve already outlined a few education initiatives that the General Assembly hopes to fund this session. Now let’s take a look at exactly what it would take to move forward with those proposals, plus a few others.

Continue Reading

Which Education Initiatives Can Indiana Afford This Session?

One of the first items on the agenda when the General Assembly returns next week is crafting a biennial budget.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, (left) looks over budget documents from the Department of Education. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, (left) looks over budget documents from the Department of Education. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Legislative leaders have pledged to balance the budget this session without any tax increases – which could prove challenging, since requests submitted by several state agencies would require extra spending.

According to a revenue forecast released last week, Indiana’s overall fiscal picture in the next budget cycle looks promising. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reported on the numbers:

State leaders say they’re cautiously optimistic about Indiana’s fiscal future after the new revenue forecast predicted a 2 percent to 3 percent growth in the next budget cycle.

Two percent to 3 percent revenue growth in the next budget would mean more than $800 million over the next two years.

What does this forecast mean for education?

Continue Reading

Who Is Responsible For Oversight of State Voucher Money?

Earlier this month, we told you about 80 private schools planning to return money to the state, following unintentional errors in calculating voucher costs. In a follow-up to that story, Stephanie Wang of The Indianapolis Star reports on who’s in charge of voucher funds – and concerns about mistakes as the program expands.


When private and parochial schools recently returned nearly $4 million in public money overcharged in state vouchers, school choice advocates lauded the self-policing efforts. But who is actually responsible for making sure such mistakes are caught? Who makes sure such errors won’t happen again?

Read more at: www.indystar.com

What Do State Boards Look Like In Other States? Not Like Indiana’s

Indiana’s State Board of Education dominated the news in 2014, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.

State Board of Education members listen to a presentation from a Department of Education staffer in August. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

State Board of Education members listen to a presentation from a Department of Education staffer in August. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Toward the end of the year, along with announcing the end of his own controversial education agency, Governor Mike Pence said he wants the state legislature to consider changing how the SBOE operates. To help diffuse tension between State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and other members of the board, Pence has suggested allowing the board to elect its own chairperson, rather than automatically giving that seat to the superintendent.

This isn’t an unusual move – plenty of other states do it this way. In fact, the majority do.

Board members in thirty-six states plus Guam and the Northern Marianas elect their own chairs. Governors in eight other states appoint the board chair, and in Alabama the governor him- or herself serves as chair, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Continue Reading

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