Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Peter Balonon-Rosen

Reporter

Peter Balonon-Rosen is a multimedia reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. Peter covers issues, innovations and reforms that affect Indiana education. He comes to WFIU/WTIU from WBUR in Boston, where he served as lead education reporter for WBUR's Learning Lab. Peter graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor's degree in American Studies and certificate in Film Studies. When he's not in the newsroom, Peter enjoys playing music, arguing about who's the best Ramone (Dee Dee, duh) and reading good fiction. You can follow him on Twitter @pbalonon_rosen. Email: pbalonon@indiana.edu

Healthcare Partnership Aims To Help Children With Autism

Health insurance giant Anthem is partnering with Easterseals Crossroads to launch a new program to support children with autism and their families.  (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Health insurance giant Anthem is partnering with Easterseals Crossroads to launch a new program to support children with autism and their families. (Photo credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

Finding the right doctor or medical services for children can be hard. Finding those same services for children with autism can be even more difficult.

“In the autism world there can be long waits for services, there tend to be limited resources and difficulty accessing services that are needed,” says Tracy Gale, director of autism and behavior services at Easterseals Crossroads, the largest disability services organization in Indianapolis. “It can be very overwhelming for families.”

A new partnership hopes to change that. Health insurance giant Anthem is partnering with Easterseals Crossroads to launch a new program to support children with autism and their families.

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Florida Company Named As Gary Schools Emergency Manager

A Florida group, MGT Consulting, will oversee Gary Community Schools in an attempt to turnaround the district. (Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

A Florida group, MGT Consulting, will oversee Gary Community Schools in an attempt to turnaround the district. (Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board has named MGT Consulting, of Tallahassee, Florida, as emergency manager of the struggling Gary Community School Corporation in northwest Indiana.

The Gary school system has long struggled with money management, loss of students to charter and other district schools, and even its ability to pay teachers on time. A state law passed earlier this year required the DUAB to appoint a manager for Gary schools.

The firm will be tasked with helping the district manage a $110 million debt and assist the district moving forward. Gary Native Peggy Hinkley, of Scherville, will lead MGT Consulting with that task. She will have near-total control to introduce academic and financial changes, renegotiate teacher contracts and run Gary’s schools.

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Report: Work Requirement Makes Indiana Lag Behind In Pre-K Access

According to state law, to be eligible for state-funded pre-K, a parent needs to be working or attending school within 30 days of the program’s start.  (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

According to state law, to be eligible for state-funded pre-K, a parent needs to be working or attending school within 30 days of the program’s start. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana lags far behind other states in providing families access to state-funded pre-K programs, according to a new study of Indiana’s pre-K offerings. The analysis finds Indiana, the only state that ties a family’s pre-K eligibility to work and education requirements, limits participation for children who may be most in need.

The report from Early Learning Indiana, a preschool advocacy organization, says the requirement ends up “penalizing” children whose parents may not be able to work due to struggles with “addiction, mental health issues, housing instability, domestic violence and chronic illness.”

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Welcome To The Summer Camp For Kids Impacted By HIV

The Tataya Mato week at Indianapolis' Jameson Camp is a free sleepaway camp for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Tataya Mato week at Indianapolis’ Jameson Camp is a free sleepaway camp for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

It’s a sleep away camp. It’s free. And once a summer the Jameson Camp in Indianapolis hosts a session for campers with this in common: Either they or a family member have HIV/AIDS.

The goal? Use summer camp to help children process their struggles with the disease.

The unique camp session began in 1995. At the time, HIV and AIDS were so loaded with stigma, people wouldn’t talk about it. Even within their own families.

“Some of the kids would sit in the car and their parent would tell them what was going on,” says Brad Higgins, site manager at Jameson Camp, fighting back tears.

Higgins has been a groundskeeper at Jameson for 20 years. He says some kids may have never known their family member had HIV.

But the camp has always had this rule: Campers need to know why they’re here – that either they or someone they’re close to is directly impacted by the disease.

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Seven IPS High School Students Immersed In Cancer Research

(Leigh DeNoon/WFYI News)

(Leigh DeNoon/WFYI News)

In an IU School of Medicine pathology lab, Shortridge High School student Isaac Carrera Ochoa is at a microscope looking for specific cancer biomarkers to be used in immunotherapy cancer treatment. Ochoa is searching for a biomarker called VISTA.

“I have studied 19 cases and only two seemed positive,” Ochoa says.

Professor Dr. George Sandusky, Ochoa’s mentor, says the work of these high schoolers is having a tangible impact on patient lives.

“We’re right on the cutting edge here because several people do get immunotherapy when they come from regional and outlying hospitals,” Sandusky says.

Sandusky says immunotherapy uses the patient’s own body to fight the cancer instead of radiation and chemotherapy – though immunotherapy may be used in tandem with the other treatments.

He says this kind of hands-on experience has a lasting impact on the students. Sandusky recently learned a participant from several years ago is now at the IU School of Medicine.

Ochoa says his cancer research this summer is especially meaningful because he has a relative being treated for breast cancer.

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Are Helicopter Parents Ruining Summer Camp?

In a wired world, summer camp is one of the last phone-free zones. But campers, staff and especially parents don’t always appreciate the message. The NPR Ed team investigates.

“It beeped in the envelope. That’s how we knew.” Leslie Conrad is the director of Clemson Outdoor Lab in Pendleton, S.C., which runs several different camps during the summer. Clemson bans cellphones and other electronic devices for campers. That makes sense.

Read more at: www.npr.org

Educators, Employers Will Use State Data To Tackle Local Job Needs

Caleb Pierson looks over a cabinet project he designed for Heartwood Manufacturing. Pierson is a graduate of a program run through Batesville High School, that helps students get manufacturing skills while still in high school. (Claire McInerny/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Caleb Pierson looks over a cabinet project he designed for Heartwood Manufacturing. Pierson is a graduate of a program run through Batesville High School, that helps students get manufacturing skills while still in high school. (Claire McInerny/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana workforce officials are convening dozens of groups of local education and business leaders across the state to improve training efforts for new workers.

It’s the next phase of the Indiana’s SkillUp program, which aims to help localize training efforts for the state’s estimated million job openings in the next decade.

Workforce development commissioner Steve Braun shared local workforce data with the Lafayette-area group – made up of high school superintendents, vocational and technical educators and local employers – on Monday.

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Feds To Revisit Campus Rape Policy, An Issue That’s Vexed Indiana

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she will revisit Obama-era sexual assault policies, but did not reveal what specific policy changes the administration intended to make. In this May 23, 2017 photo, DeVos visits Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she will revisit Obama-era sexual assault policies, but did not reveal what specific policy changes the administration intended to make. In this May 23, 2017 photo, DeVos visits Providence Cristo Rey High School in Indianapolis. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Federal education officials plan to take a hard look at campus sexual assault policies created by the Obama administration, saying those policies could deprive accused students of their rights. It’s a move infuriating advocates for victims and women who have spent years waging a campaign against what some have called “rape culture” on campuses.

The issue has garnered considerable controversy. And it’s one all too familiar in Indiana.

The federal government is currently conducting 16 investigations into Indiana colleges and universities for possibly mishandling reports of sexual violence.

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Senate Health Bill Would Affect Special Education? Yes, Here’s How

New federal healthcare legislation could result in large cuts to Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for low-income people. Schools often rely on these funds for special education and other health services. (Simon Hulatt/Flickr)

New federal healthcare legislation could result in large cuts to Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for low-income people. Schools often rely on these funds for special education and other health services. (Simon Hulatt/Flickr)

Indiana districts stand to lose more than $3.6 million per year over the next two decades, under proposed cuts to Medicaid spending under new federal healthcare legislation.

How school services would be effected has garnered little attention in the national debate as Republican lawmakers seek to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Indiana districts use Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for low-income people, to pay for certain health-related services. Districts rely on Medicaid reimbursements for special education, transportation for children with disabilities, social workers, full-time nurses, testing accommodations, physical and occupational therapists and medical equipment. Districts also use Medicaid reimbursements for administrative costs, like health fairs or connecting students without medical insurance to state services.

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McCormick Responds To New Federal Graduation Rate Requirements

Jennifer McCormick leads the State Board of Education meeting May 10. (photo credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI)

Jennifer McCormick leads the State Board of Education meeting May 10. (photo credit: Eric Weddle/WFYI)

A new federal education law would make thousands of diplomas known as general diplomas no longer count toward a school’s graduation rate. It’s a move that Indiana’s schools chief says “blindsided” the state.

“Obviously the state recognizes those diplomas, employers are recognizing those diplomas,” says Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction. “This will just make it more problematic.”

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