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  • Indiana Seizing the Initiative on Education Reform

    The last few weeks have brought a flurry of exciting policy reforms from the Midwest. In Indiana, a variety of new proposals aims to benefit students, teachers, and families.

    Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) is lending his support to a proposal to create scholarship­s for low- and moderate-income students in the state. The scholarship program would allow low-income families to receive as much as 90 percent of the cost of educating a child in a public school to be put toward tuition at a private school of their choice. Although there is strong opposition, the Indiana governor has stated, “We intend to become the first state of full and true choice.”

    Indiana is also standing up for teachers, as well as students, by proposing a teacher tenure reform bill, which aims to reward teachers by connecting “teacher evaluations with test scores” and by introducing “a system of performance-based pay.” Additionally, the new law would “make it easier to dismiss teachers repeatedly rated ineffective or in need of improvement.”

    For years, policies have protected ineffective teachers, most recently demonstrated by a lawsuit that resulted in the District of Columbia having to hire back 75 dismissed teachers who failed to do their jobs. (D.C. is also being made to pay back wages to these teachers to the tune of $7.5 million.)

    But Indiana’s leaders are saying no to these types of policies, which not only hurt children but burden schools, not to mention making it more difficult for those teachers who are doing their best to help children learn.

    Additionally, next year Indiana schools will increase transparency and accountability to those with the greatest stake in a child’s education—parents—by implementing a system that grades schools on an A through F scale, replacing “the more complicated category names now used to label a school’s performance.” Florida has implemented similar reforms, allowing parents to know whether their child’s school is succeeding. Said Tony Bennett, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction:

    Indiana citizens desire a clear picture of the performance of schools … Letter grades will provide a clear picture.

    States around the nation are taking the initiative to stand up for the types of reforms that help teachers, students, and families. At a time when the U.S. education system is in dire need of reform, leaders like Indiana are sending a clear message that the time to give children the hope for a better academic future is now.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Indiana Seizing the Initiative on Education Reform

    1. Karen Combs Lafayett says:

      Being a conservative and an educator, I have to respectfully disagree with this article. These are not reforms that will help students, teachers or the state of Indiana. The "scholarship" program results in a further "entitled" section of our country that expects for now their private school education to be paid with tax dollars, along with their housing, food, etc. Tying teacher pay to test scores is only as fair as the part the teacher can control at school. We can't control what happens at home, and this influences children more than school. Children in poverty are more worried if they will have heat tonight. Not if they can pass a test. The "scholarship" bill (HB1003) will take hundreds of thousands of dollars away from public schools and take away choices of many to give a choice to a few. The merit pay bill, SB1, has a lovely state written rubric that states that teachers are not "highly effective" if students are tardy…if teachers have to remind children of the rules more than once…280+ indicators for evaluations. Many great teachers who work in low income schools, such as mine, will lose their jobs. This is not what reform means.

      I have testified before Republican legislators that laugh and talk when opposing people are speaking to their education committee…our children at school would be in trouble for being so rude!! Their minds are made up, unfortunately, without talking to the people such as I who work in these schools. They don't want to know what I think…they just want to shove an agenda down the throats of the schools…to the detriment of the children.

      I believe that education can be reformed…and I believe in public schools. So did our ancestors….they worked hard so our kids could unite us…not to divide us along religious or economic lines.

      I am thoroughly disgusted at the conduct of the people I voted for that think that because I voted for them, they can do whatever they want. They work for me…and that statehouse is my house too!!

      Indiana should not be held up as any type of example…we are not doing what's right for our future, our communities, and our kids. I am ashamed that I have ever been a conservative Republican in this state…The lawmakers who are pushing this agenda…their conduct, words, and actions betray everything good common sense tells me. And the bullying…I just can't begin to tell you…the amount of bullying that is coming from the conservative politicians. They need to come and work in my school. Then, we'd see some real reform that would benefit us all. It would be none of what is currently on the agenda. Instead, we'd have a longer school day, longer school year, and we'd have mandatory full day kindergarten. We'd have yearly evaluations at schools that are meant to "grow" great teachers…not fire the good ones. We'd quit spending 43 million dollars to test approximately 500,000 students, and we'd do what really counts. Teach. We'd use that money to add staff to make smaller class sizes and get kids more help. We'd hold families accountable to get their children to school on time and be involved. I bet we'd have phenominal results. After all…I do this for a living. This is what I know. It sure would be nice if someone actually recognized that the people who are on the front lines could be the most valuable asset our children have, instead of making wonderful teachers feel vilified and disrespected. Who ever will want to teach in Indiana? I told my daughter that I wouldn't pay for college for her to be a teacher. What a sad sad day…

    2. Bobbie says:

      Please share with us the bullying you or anyone are victimized by. I hear it often regarding "in schools?" But nothing backs it up and being an unpaid (some are paid at the distortion of the meaning) volunteer, I don't see it. So is it exaggerated to convince for more needless government control? Any bullying going on should stand with those involved. So please share with us so we can straighten it out. Sounds more of a misunderstanding or an ignorance to understand, than bullying.

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