Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Say What? How Indiana Talked About Education In 2015

We at StateImpact like a good movie quote as much as the next person. And out in the field, we hear a good many quips about from parents, teachers, kids, other reporters and state leaders alike. So we thought as long as we’re compiling year-end lists, why not let those people do the talking?

Here’s a look at what we think are some of the smartest, funniest and most controversial statements people made about education in Indiana this year…

Brownsburg Community Schools received their test booklets from CTB-McGraw Hill the week Gov. Pence and the IDOE began making changes to the test. (Photo Credit: Scott Smith/Brownsburg Community Schools)

(Photo Credit: Scott Smith/Brownsburg Community Schools)

“The ISTEP+ Dumpster Fire

Dave Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier

With this headline just a few days before the close of 2015, Bangert painted perhaps the most vivid picture of what’s happened with Indiana’s annual standardized test this year. The ISTEP+ has graced headlines all year. First, the test was too long, then it was not working, and most recently the public found out it is not being graded correctly. Many have said they hope state education leaders find a way to put the fire out when 2016 starts, so that students, teachers and schools don’t suffer the consequences of such a controversial exam.

“That just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through for, say, a parent who is already trying to navigate the special education world for their kid…I emailed twice for meeting information and got no response. I doubt many parents or members of the the public would keep trying after that.”

– Eric Weddle, WFYI education reporter, in a story written by Chalkbeat Indiana’s Scott Elliott

Through telling Weddle’s story (among others) about the trials of getting information from the Indiana Department of Education, Elliott put into words what many in Hoosier education had been feeling earlier this year: at times, the IDOE can be a tough egg to crack. The department’s transparency became an issue on multiple occasions throughout 2015 – some attribute the demise of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz‘s short-lived gubernatorial campaign to the fact that for weeks, no media were able to locate a public relations/communications contact. The IDOE also found itself in the middle of a dispute with charter school leaders mid-year due to complaints they hadn’t been clear about how they calculate Title I funding distributions.

“We look for the glass half full, not the glass half empty.”

– Kevin Sandorf, Teacher, Arlington Community High School

Speaking of Eric Weddle, if you haven’t been following his year-long series from the halls of one of Indianapolis Public Schools’ most troubled schools, you still have another semester to tune in. Arlington is in its first year back under IPS control after three years in the hands of a private company – but things haven’t been going as smoothly as many had hoped. But the school staff, administration and alumni base have hope that things will get better  – and we’ve found that to be true in a number of other struggling schools, including some in Gary and Evansville.

Arlington Principal Stan Law prepares his senior leadership team on Aug. 3, 2015 right before students are let in the building for the first time. (Photo Credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media)

Arlington Principal Stan Law prepares his senior leadership team on Aug. 3, 2015 right before students are let in the building for the first time. (Photo Credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI Public Media)

“Students make change, so it sort of requires that you have students committed and passionate about change attending campuses.”

– Mike Reilly, Executive Director for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

One of the biggest stories in Indiana in general this year involved the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And, like most things that happen in the statehouse, the impact of that legislation reverberated to schools around the state – particularly colleges and universities that are constantly trying to recruit prospective students. Many schools – including IU, Ball State, Butler and DePauw – issued statements saying their schools accept all students and oppose the law. And less than one year post-RFRA passage and ahead of the next legislative session where the issue may come up again, many are still wondering how the national media’s portrayal of Indiana will affect future students’ impressions of the state’s school communities.

We know it’s not really a “quote,” per se, but we couldn’t leave without including a voice from the group that’s most fun to interact with: Indiana’s kids. And really, how cute was that?!

What do you have to say? Leave any year-end reflections in the comments section below!

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