Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Audio

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive

Fort Wayne Community Schools will spend about $10,000 on billboards this summer. District spokesperson Krista Stockman says state funding from a gain of two new students would pay for the billboards. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Fort Wayne Community Schools will spend about $10,000 on billboards this summer. District spokesperson Krista Stockman says state funding from a gain of two new students would pay for the billboards. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Forget Don Draper. Forget Peggy Olson. The newest era of advertising may live within your public school district.

Schools will start soon, but where you live doesn’t necessarily determine where you go to school anymore. Families can choose where to go to school — private, charter or public school. The aim behind providing this choice? Proponents say it will force all schools to better themselves.

Whether it has done that remains controversial. But it has given birth to a new reality for public schools: with education competition, comes the need for education marketing.

Schools Seek Community Connection

If Marnie Cooke had her way, you’d see school colors plastered throughout downtown Noblesville.

“I don’t know when the city of Noblesville is planning on changing over street signs,” said Cooke, Noblesville Schools communications director. “But I hope to put a bug in their ear that it might be cool to have some black and gold street signs.”

Black and gold. The district’s colors.

In Noblesville, voters recently agreed to bump up property taxes to help fund the district. Cooke wants everyone in the small central Indiana city to feel connected to the schools.

The district relies on the community for funding, internships and students. So the district hired Cooke because of her private-sector marketing background. Continue Reading

Chasing The Dream: Investing For The Long Haul On Indy’s Far Eastside

LaToya Tahirou stands behind her daughter Lamya Hale at their Carriage House East apartment. Lamya will enter the sixth grade at PLA @ 103 in August. She likes the school because “teachers are close to you, and they love you.” (Photo by Eric Weddle, WFYI)

LaToya Tahirou stands behind her daughter Lamya Hale at their Carriage House East apartment. Lamya will enter the sixth grade at PLA @ 103 in August. She likes the school because “teachers are close to you, and they love you.” (Photo by Eric Weddle, WFYI)” credit=”

When Lamya Hale started at School 103 last August as a fifth grader, the experience began like others she toughened out at city schools.

Hale was bullied by other students. At 103, she says, it caused her to break down crying a few times a week during class. But then something different happened when a teacher stepped in.

“She taught me to just stay strong and not worry about anything else,” the 11-year old said recently. “That is what I like about that school. The teachers are close to you, and they love you.”

That interaction made Lamya’s mom, LaToya Tahirou, very happy. Even though School 103 was just a few blocks from their Carriage House East apartment on the Far Eastside, Tahirou hadn’t considered it until last year.

Unaware of the school’s past history, Tahirou was surprised by its strong pull to engage parents — not just get them in the door but make them feel like they had something at stake in the school’s success.

Tahirou says a high quality school is a vital piece to changing her neighborhood — one of the city’s most dangerous.

Right now, she says, people feel like they have one option to improve their lives — moving to a township or northward to the suburbs.

But she doesn’t accept those options.

Continue Reading

College Class Inside Prison Aims To Bring Students Together

The Inside Out class at Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility meets. The class is part of an international program that brings college students and incarcerated people together to learn. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting) The Inside Out class at Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility meets. The class is part of an international program that brings college students and incarcerated people together to learn. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

INDIANAPOLIS — To get to the classroom inside Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility, IREF, you go through a metal detector, a set of locked doors and across a long, open yard.

Behind another set of doors, class is in session.

Sitting in a circle, students discuss their designs of an ideal facility that helps incarcerated people transition back into society. They’re working on their final project for this class, held behind bars, on the criminal justice system.

The class is part of the international Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, a program that brings college students and incarcerated people together with one goal: learning.

Here, half of the students are “inside students,” people incarcerated here at IREF. The other half are “outside students,” college students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Together, they’re inside and out. Inside-Out.

“I’m the most talkative person in the class actually,” Dariek says, with a laugh.

Dariek’s currently incarcerated, but being released soon, so we aren’t using his last name.

“Man, this is best thing that has happened to me in the entire 18 years I have been incarcerated,” Dariek says. “I went to college in prison but I didn’t experience the college thing, like with the students.”

Dariek speaks to his Inside Out classmates. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting) Dariek speaks to his Inside-Out classmates. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

In the early 2000s, Indiana had one of the largest college degree programs for incarcerated adults, by percentage, in the nation. People inside Indiana prisons received about 1,000 degrees a year.

In 2010, much of that began to be phased out. A 2011 law restricted state funding for college programs.

“We had up to 400 college professors going into prisons everyday to teach college programs,” says John Nally, Indiana Department of Correction education director.

Nally says prison education now focuses primarily on job-training and GED programs.

“You know, we like to say we’re training Indiana’s future workforce,” he says.

But some worry this is turning Indiana prisons into “intellectual deserts.” Continue Reading

StateImpact Special: Changing Gary’s Teaching Mindset

“That’s my goal for every year, is just to be better than the person I was last year.”

GCSC administrators work with education consultant Irving Jones over the summer. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

GCSC administrators work with education consultant Irving Jones over the summer. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

One could argue that’s a sentiment any school administrator would be happy to hear from his or her teachers. And it’s one the Gary Community School Corporation is emphasizing to help improve its current situation.

All this week, we’re bringing you stories from inside the Gary Community School Corporation – a district many agree is in need of repair. Check out our previous stories introducing the city of Gary and some of the major players in the local schools – including GCSC Superintendent Pruitt and her administrative team, who are working to change the perception of the so-called failing district. 

Today, you’ll meet the beating heart of the Gary school system: its teachers. Many colleagues have been here together for years – and now, they’re starting to see some new members join the ranks.

A sneak peek…

While the rest of Indiana struggles with a teacher shortage, we don’t know what that will look like in Gary. One has to wonder: with the way the district and its city have been struggling, how much talent will they actually be able to recruit?

For the first time in 20 or 30 years, a big group of Gary’s teachers are moving on, creating openings for new blood. So this year, Superintendent Pruitt and other GCSC administrators are making sure all district teachers – young and old, new and returning – are on the same page.

You got to get out of what you think and what you been doing for 40 years and we gotta move over here, or else you need to go home. Getting just that mindset – fixed mindset to a growth mindset, so that people can see us someplace else.

Click here to read more…

StateImpact Special: How Gary’s Administration Is Getting To Work

All this week, we’re bringing you stories from inside the Gary Community School Corporation – a district many agree is in need of repair. Yesterday, we introduced you to the city of Gary, its history and some of the major players in the local schools.

Today, we go on a ride through the district and into the school buildings with a woman many credit for the beginnings of Gary’s turnaround: Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt.

To many, Dr. Cheryl Pruitt stands out among other important Gary residents and benefactors, including Oprah, the Jackson 5 and Magic Johnson. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

To many, Dr. Cheryl Pruitt stands out among other important Gary residents and benefactors, including Oprah, the Jackson 5 and Magic Johnson. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

A sneak peek…

Dr. Cheryl Pruitt is a product of the district she now heads. During the course of her career, she has also taught and served as an administrator at several Gary schools. She says she never planned to become superintendent – it’s one of those things that “just kind of happened.” And, she says, it’s home.

Despite her love for the city, she’s not in denial about the problems its school district faces.

I’m probably not the traditional superintendent, because I have debt, I have funding, I have education – and then I have the negative publicity, the vouchers, the charters, the takeover – it kind of all just goes together in my head.

Click here to read more…

Searching for Solutions to Indiana’s Teacher Shortage Problem

By now, you’ve likely heard this headline: Indiana – like many other states all over the country – is facing a teacher shortage.

As we’ve reported, the number of first-year educators granted a Hoosier State license dropped pretty dramatically last year. Across the nation, fewer people are becoming teachers than in past years, too. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs in the U.S. fell by about 30 percent between 2010 and 2014.

For the most part, people agree this drop could represent a troubling trend. Where they tend to disagree is in what’s causing it, and what the appropriate response should be.

Everyone, even the national media, has an opinion. Long story short: officials mulling over what to do about Indiana’s situation usually lie in one of two camps.

Camp No. 1: Provide Incentive

On one side, there are those who see the shortage as a problem that can be addressed most effectively on the front end, when teachers first enter school as students. They see it as a matter of what teaching trainees pay for their education versus the return on that investment once they get a job.

Gordon Hendry listens during a State Board of Education meeting earlier this spring. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Gordon Hendry listens during a State Board of Education meeting earlier this spring. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Indiana State Board of Education member Gordon Hendry sits on this side of the issue. He says he thinks he has a solution that will get more of the state’s best and brightest into Hoosier classrooms: do something about their low salaries.

“There’s been a substantial rise in the cost of getting a higher education in our state. When you weigh that against the teacher salaries, I think the formula is a little out of whack,” Hendry says.

Hendry’s Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship program would afford top Indiana high school students the opportunity to earn a full ride to any accredited in-state school of education.

The catch? Afterward, they’d have to spend at least four years teaching in an Indiana classroom. Hendry calls it “four years for four years,” and says he thinks it’s a fair tradeoff.

Continue Reading

How Student Debt For Millennials Is Changing The Economy

Mallory Rickbeil and her boyfriend Chris Stearly want to buy a home, but Rickbeil's student debt si preventing them from moving forward with that decision.

Mallory Rickbeil and her boyfriend Chris Stearly want to buy a home, but Rickbeil’s student debt is preventing them from moving forward with that decision. (Photo Credit: Claire McInerny/StateImpact Indiana)

The path to a college education has gotten pretty complicated.

The American job force is increasingly demanding a college degree, and at the same time it’s becoming more and more unaffordable to get one. Tuition is increasing and grants and financial assistance aren’t keeping pace. Young people are taking out thousands of dollars to get just a bachelor’s degree, and as we’ve reported, Indiana has one of the highest rates of college graduates defaulting on their student loans.

With the millennial generation carrying more student loan debt than any other, what does this do to the overall economy, as millennials move toward marriage and home buying? How will their habits change the landscape of higher education?

First Comes Love, Then Comes…Debt Payments?

Mallory Rickbeil and Chris Stearly just moved into a new house in Bloomington. This is the second place they’re renting together, and it’s an upgrade from their previous home.

“There’s so much space,” Rickbeil says. “Chris and I were looking around being like, ‘we have too much space.’” 

Roominess aside, the new house has one huge flaw: it’s not theirs.

“Chris and I have the same objective of wanting to have a house that we own, and at this point Chris is much more capable of doing that than I am – in a large part because of my student loans,” Rickbeil says.

Rickbeil owes thousands of dollars in student loan debt for a master’s degree she finished three years ago. She pays around $500 a month, which makes it tricky to make ends meet, let alone save for a house, something she and Chris are ready to do.

“If Chris and I were to buy a house, it would put more of the burden on him for making the down payment,” she says.  Continue Reading

Museums Face Access, Quality Challenges With Educational Programs

The options for Indiana’s youngest learners are expanding every day.

The hunger for preschool across Indiana continues to grow, fueled by initiatives like the state’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s Indy Preschool Scholarship Program, both initiatives targeted toward low-income families.

Momentum is so great that programs are popping up in places you might not otherwise expect them – like the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The IMA has offered summer classes and supplemental educational programming for years, but this is the first time it is hosting a group of young children for a year-long classroom experience. And like many of these other institutions, the IMA has a lot to consider in starting this type of educational program.

‘The arts is a great natural fit’

Children and adults alike have had opportunities to experience the IMA beyond its galleries and exhibits for years. The museum offers an array of courses ranging from creative indoor workshops to interactive adventure sessions at one of its many garden and outdoor facilities.

There is also plenty of programming for school groups, who often schedule their own field trips to the museum. Heidi Davis-Soylu, the IMA’s manager of academic engagement and learning research, noticed that one such local group took frequent advantage of these events, and decided it was worth forging a partnership.

Art supplies line the countertop in a preschool classroom at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Art supplies line the countertop in a preschool classroom at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

A toddler art program came out of that collaboration with St. Mary’s Child Center, which expanded and evolved into what has now become the IMA preschool.

“We learned a lot about working with toddlers in the art galleries – what’s the good ratio? How do we make this a space where they feel like they belong, but they also know how to be quiet in the hallways if we need to?” Davis-Soylu explains. “Bringing in the arts is a great natural fit for early childhood education.”

So beginning this week, just as the museum is opening to the public, a gaggle of three- and four-year-olds is leaving the building at the end of their school day. This group of seven makes up the IMA’s very first preschool class.

“As the largest art institution in the state and as in schools cutbacks are happening for art education are happening, we’re charged with that task to play that role,” Davis-Soylu says.

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