Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

U.S. Department of Education Calls For NCLB Rewrite

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling on Congress to repeal and replace No Child Left Behind, the cornerstone federal education law, while still maintaining what he considers to be key elements – including annual testing.

The law, signed by former President George W. Bush in 2002, has been due for reauthorization since 2007. It is the current iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), an extensive federal statute that has funded primary and secondary education since 1965.

In a speech delivered Monday, Duncan laid out his vision for rewriting what he calls a “tired” and “prescriptive” law.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits with preschoolers in Virginia last year. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits with preschoolers in Virginia last year. (Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Education)

“I believe we can replace it with a law that recognizes that schools need more support – more money – than they receive today,” Duncan says. “A law that recognizes the hard work educators across America are doing to support and raise expectations for students, and lifts up the profession of teaching by recognizing that teachers need better preparation, better support, and more resources.”

Duncan says a rewrite needs to emphasize the following components: 

  • Improved access to high-quality preschool,
  • An equal distribution of funds among schools to guarantee all students can access good teachers and resources like technology and safe facilities,
  • Fair teacher evaluation systems that include measures of student learning,
  • Improved preparation, support, resources and pay for teachers, and
  • More financial support for districts that “pursue bold innovations” in terms of testing.

“If we make our national education responsibilities optional, we would turn back the clock on educational progress,” Duncan said. “When so many states and districts have put in place the building blocks to sustain educational progress…reversing course would be a terrible mistake.”

Continue Reading

“Obama To Promote Free Community College”

President Obama will advocate for free tuition at community colleges during his State of the Union speech later this month. In a visit to Tennessee yesterday, Obama praised the state for already doing this.


“Free” is a word with a powerful appeal. And right now it’s being tossed around a lot, followed by another word: “college.” A new nonprofit, Redeeming America’s Promise, announced this week that it will seek federal support to make public colleges tuition-free.

Read more at: www.npr.org

State Teachers’ Association Announces Its Legislative Agenda

The Indiana State Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in the state, laid out its plans Thursday for the 2015 legislation session, in addition to questioning some of the proposals Governor Mike Pence announced earlier in the day.

The largest teachers' union in the state offered its own 2015 legislative agenda. (Photo Credit: elementalPaul/Flickr)

The largest teachers’ union in the state offered its own 2015 legislative agenda. (Photo Credit: elementalPaul/Flickr)

ISTA President Teresa Meredith wants Indiana lawmakers to make education funding a priority in the next two-year budget by increasing it 3 percent in each of the next two years. That would be about $545 million over the beinnium.

Other ITSA priorities include:

  • Redirecting $50 million of funding to student remediation efforts.
  • Lowering the required age to start school from 7 to 5.
  • Funding subsidies for teachers to pursue a national board certification.
  • Restore $2.5 million for reading programs and specialists for each year.

“If students are really, truly at the center of what we are talking about here in education, if Indiana is really committed to make this the education year, then they need to make education a real priority,” Meredith says.

Meredith also says she does not support Gov. Pence’s proposal to lift the cap on the dollar amount for vouchers and increase funding for charter schools. Rather, she says lawmakers should require the state Department of Education to analyze and report how much money earmarked for public schools is redirected to charter schools in each district.

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

IPS’ Lewis Ferebee Makes Case For Transformation Zones

Lewis Ferebee, Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent, is getting closer to what he’s long wanted – more control over chronically failing IPS schools that had fallen under a type of state intervention.

Washington High School in Indianapolis is one of the failing IPS schools that would be part of a proposed "transformation zone." (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana )

Washington High School in Indianapolis is one of the failing IPS schools that would be part of a proposed “transformation zone.” (Photo Credit: Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana )

Wednesday Ferebee updated a receptive State Board of Education on “transformation zones” – his proposed method of turning around struggling IPS schools.

The district-led plan includes assistance from a company aligned with the district and a focus on teacher training and student needs at particular high schools and the elementary schools that feed into those high schools.

The goal is to prevent the schools from being taken over by the state and run by a company.

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

State Scholarship Program Needs More Money This Budget Session

State senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) chairs the senate appropriations committee and says funding the 21st Century Scholarship Program is a major goal of his this session.

State senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) chairs the senate appropriations committee and says funding the 21st Century Scholarship Program is a major goal of his this session. (photo credit: Gretchen Frazee/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The General Assembly reconvened Tuesday, with many legislators saying education is their main focus for the 2015 session. While much of the attention will be on K-12 policies, the 21st Century Scholarship program will dominate the discussion around higher education.

The 27,000 students enrolled in the program is more than double previous groups, meaning there will not be enough money for every student’s scholarship needs.

The 21st Century Scholarship program is a promise scholarship of sorts, enrolling low-income students during seventh and eighth grade and guaranteeing them money for college if they maintain a 2.5 GPA and stay out of legal trouble while in high school, among other requirements.

The program’s been around for more than 20 years and worked with more 54,000 students, but in the last year it has outgrown its current budget. The Commission for Higher Education presented its budget in late December, asking for an almost $90 million increase for the next two years.  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

Education Will Be Top Priority For Legislators This Session

 

Looking down Market Street from the Soldiers & Sailors Monument at the Indiana Statehouse.

Looking down Market Street from the Soldiers & Sailors Monument at the Indiana Statehouse.

Governor Mike Pence said it, and Republican and Democratic leaders said it, so it seems the main focus of this year’s legislative agenda will be education. The 2015 session, which begins Tuesday afternoon, is a budget session that will allocate funds to state agencies for the next few years. Legislators will start filing and writing bills soon, but until then, let’s take a look at what leaders have said are their priorities so far.

Republicans

Democrats

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