House Speaker Brian Bosma presents the bill to the full House that makes the state superintendent an appointed position in 2021. The bill passed out of the legislature and now goes to the governor. (photo credit: Brandon Smith/Indiana Public Broadcasting)
The House advanced a bill to the governor Tuesday to make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed, rather than elected, position.
The original House version of the bill made the state schools superintendent an appointed position beginning in 2021.
But the Senate had defeated its identical version of the bill earlier in session. So that chamber had to make changes in order to comply with its rules about hearing a matter it already voted down. Those changes include pushing the date back to 2025 and adding qualifications, including an background in education and a two-year residency requirement.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) reluctantly went along with those changes. He says he’d prefer no such restrictions.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says any changes to the superintendent bill will mean its defeat in the Senate. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)” credit=”
Legislation making the state schools superintendent an appointed position is in limbo as the House weighs its options.
The Senate earlier this session defeated a bill to make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed, rather than elected position beginning in 2021. The House approved its own, identical version.
Indiana’s Lifeline Law provides immunity from underage drinking charges to minors who seek help for themselves or others. (photo credit: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News)
Educating young people about Indiana’s Lifeline Law this year has a new focus – Text to 911. It’s the latest edition of what’s become a back-to-school tradition.
The Lifeline Law provides immunity from underage drinking charges to minors who seek help for themselves or others. And it applies not just to those who call 911, but those who text it as well.
State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell – who chairs the Statewide 911 Board – says texting allows dispatchers to more easily follow up on 911 hang-ups, citing a recent example.
“The caller who hung up ended up being a student who thought they had alcohol poisoning and they were worried about getting in trouble if they called for help,” Mitchell says.
Text to 911 services have been offered in some areas since 2014 and reached all counties last month. Still, far less than one percent of 911 communications are via text – which Mitchell says should go up as awareness campaigns roll out.
“Especially to inform out of state students of the Text to 911 capabilities because while we have this in Indiana, as you heard most other states don’t,” she says.
Mitchell says calling 911 is still preferred, but if texting, students should include their location first, then as much detail about the incident as possible.
About 80 percent of Indiana’s incoming high school seniors aren’t meeting requirements for a state-funded scholarship. (James Martin/Flickr)
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — About 80 percent of Indiana’s incoming high school seniors aren’t meeting requirements for a state-funded scholarship program created for low income students. This is the first group of incoming seniors who are face tougher qualification requirements for the state’s 21st Century Scholars program.
The legislature created the new requirements in 2011. At the time, only about 10 percent of students who earned the scholarships were graduating college in four years.
Senate budget architect Luke Kenley helped craft the new requirements and says the state needs to ensure its scholars are as well-prepared as possible to finish college on-time.
“When you look at the requirements objectively, they don’t seem to be all that strenuous,” Kenley said. “And so I’m puzzled why the rates are kind of low – and I’m concerned, obviously.”
The new requirements include a graduation plan, a grade point average of at least 2.5, a career interest assessment and a visit to a college campus.
Sen. Kenley says reexamining the requirements might be in order during next year’s budget-writing session, but he adds that he doesn’t want to sacrifice their rigor.
The legislature created the School Safety Grant Fund in 2013 in response to the Newtown, Conn. school shooting. Lawmakers appropriated $10 million per year for schools to hire resource officers and make safety improvements.
But the budget approved earlier this year cut that to $3.5 million a year.
Gov. Pence is now helping restore that cut, funneling $3.5 million for school safety. There’s also unspent money from previous years still in the fund. Pence says the state has no higher priority than the safety of students and faculty at its schools.
Democrats counter that if that were true, the governor and lawmakers wouldn’t have made cuts in the first place.
The new money flowing into the program is excess Department of Homeland Security dollars – essentially, unused funding that carried over from previous years.
The first meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission looking at teacher retention met Friday. (Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks/Flickr)
A 50-member commission created by State Superintendent Glenda Ritz met for the first time Friday to begin developing strategies to address Indiana’s teacher shortage, and this initial meeting examined teacher retention.
Superintendent Ritz made it very clear from the outset of the meeting: the so-called “Blue Ribbon Commission” she assembled is no mere study committee.
“Its purpose is to provide action,” Ritz said. “It is to provide strategies toward action so that we can retain the best teachers that we have and we can recruit the best teachers that we need.”
About 80 percent of Hoosier teachers remained with their school corporation between the 2012-2013 school year and the 2013-2014 school year. That number gets significantly worse when you look at teachers in schools with a high percentage of minority students, or schools with a high level of poverty.
As the commission explored potential root causes, Indiana Department of Education specialist Caitlin Beatson provided examples of what is causing teachers to leave.
“Lack of teacher mentoring and support, nonexistent or non-responsive professional development, inadequate educator preparation,” Beatson said.
But those examples were based on exit interviews and surveys some schools provided – with several commission members questioning whether they reflected actual conditions and causes. The panel will only have a few more meetings – likely three or four – to develop its own answers.
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz will not seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2016. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)
Ritz says while the state needs a new governor, now isn’t the time for her to run. She says her work as superintendent isn’t finished and pledges to dedicate herself to students, educators and families.
“Under my leadership, I have brought the discussion of public education into the public discourse and have started to fundamentally change how we support schools,” Ritz said in a statement. “My work is not finished, and my passion is stronger than ever. I must continue to be 110 percent engaged in supporting public education.”
“I will continue to advocate for what is right to educate our children to improve our economy for all Hoosiers,” Ritz continues. “With the help of all of you, we will keep education the focal point of the gubernatorial race.”
“Glenda Ritz has always put the best interests of our school children first and this decision is another example of that,” said former House Speaker John Gregg, one of Ritz’s former opponents in the Democratic race, in a statement. “I look forward to supporting her re-election to the office of Superintendent and to working with her as Governor to further strengthen public education in our state.”
Ritz’s move leaves Gregg and just one other Democrat, State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Portage, in the gubernatorial primary.
“Superintendent Ritz has been a champion for students, parents, and educators and I know that she will continue her outstanding work to ensure all Hoosier students have access to a high-quality education in our state,” Tallian said in a statement.
Experts say a potential new challenger, former Evan Bayh aide Tom Sugar, could also join the race.
State Democratic Party Chair John Zody says he understands and respects Ritz’s decision, noting Hoosier families can still have confidence in her leadership at the Statehouse.
StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives. Learn More »