Monday, August 25, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #182 – August 25, 2014

Dear Friends,

“Rise Above the Mark” is a remarkable documentary showing, in its own words, “what happens when politics enters the classroom” and when “public schools are boxed in by current corporate reforms.” It was originated by Dr. Rocky Killion, Superintendent of West Lafayette Schools, after his inquiry into why many excellent teachers in West Lafayette were retiring early.

Five meetings of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education will feature “Rise Above the Mark” followed by a panel of responders. Dr. Killion will join the panel at each site. The dates are as follows:

Sept. 6, 2014.....Indianapolis.....Washington Township Education Center, 86th & Woodfield Crossing

Sept. 27, 2014
.....Merrillville.....Merrillville High School Auditorium, 276 East 68th Place

Oct. 4, 2014
.....Fort Wayne.....IPFW Rhinehart Recital Hall, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd

Oct. 18, 2014
.....New Albany.....NAFC Education Support Center, 2801 Grant Line Road

Oct. 25, 2014
.....Evansville.....Location TBA

All meetings begin at 2pm.

On Sept. 6th, a reception honoring Dr. Bob Dalton will precede the meeting from 12:45-1:45.

Please join us and bring your public education friends to one of these meetings!

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education Fall Meetings


Since its inception in 2011, ICPE has had fall membership meetings to bring together advocates for public education and to find new friends of public education. After single meetings in 2011 and 2012 at the Washington Township site, three meetings were held in 2013. Now the ICPE board of directors has set five meetings for this year.

We are convinced that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands who strongly support public education who have not yet heard of the work of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. We are out to change that! Please help us bring more people to the mission of supporting our public schools. Please help us get the word around to others about these five meetings and about ICPE.

September 6th Special Features

The September 6th meeting at the Dean Evans Center in Washington Township will have two features in addition to the showing and discussion of “Rise Above the Mark:”
  1. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz will bring greetings and updates as we begin the meeting at 2pm.
  2. Preceding the meeting from 12:45 to 1:45, a reception will be held honoring Dr. Bob Dalton and his 63 years of service and advocacy for public education, including his work as a founding board member of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. Come a little early to the meeting and tell Dr. Dalton thanks for his many efforts on behalf of public school students, including his 18 years as Superintendent in Kokomo and his 11 years as Deputy State Superintendent under both Dr. Dean Evans and Dr. Suellen Reed!
I hope you can make plans now to see “Rise Above the Mark” at one of the ICPE fall meetings. You can RSVP with a quick return email to vic790@aol.com.

Thanks for participating! Please keep up your great support of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The fall ICPE membership meeting in Indianapolis will be held on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 2pm at the Washington Township Education Center on the corner of 86th and Woodfield Crossing. The video “Rise Above the Mark” will be featured at the meeting and Rocky Killion, the video’s producer, will be among the panelists to discuss the film afterward. Prior to the 2pm meeting, a reception will begin at 12:45 honoring Dr. Bob Dalton for his 63 years of enthusiastic service to public education. Come join us on Sept. 6th!

We need your membership to help pay the bills for ICPE lobbying efforts. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #181 – August 5, 2014

Dear Friends,

During the 2013 budget session of the Indiana General Assembly, Joel Hand testified repeatedly on behalf of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education that the voucher expansion bill would add a major new fiscal cost to the state. The era when vouchers would save the state money would be over.

I and others gave similar testimony, but the General Assembly passed the huge voucher expansion bill anyway.

Now the data for 2013-14 are in and the Indiana Department of Education has reported that the voucher program cost the state $15.7 million dollars to pay for private school tuition. The savings of $4.9 million in the previous 2012-13 school year was transformed into a significant outright cost of $15.7 by Governor Pence’s voucher expansion bill.

Indiana is now spending more of your tax dollars to pay for private school tuition for students who have always been in private schools than programs for gifted and talented students ($12.8 million), for preschool ($10 million), for Non-English speaking students ($5.5 million) and for teacher professional development ($0).

How Did This Happen? Paying for Students Where the Choice was Already Made


In large part, the voucher bill was sold to legislators in 2011 on the argument that it would save the state money. Vouchers were set at a fixed amount for elementary students ($4500 in 2011-12 and then upped to $4700 in 2013-14), a level below the average state tuition support in most but not all public school districts. For secondary students the voucher was set at 90% of what the student’s public school was getting for that student.

Most importantly, vouchers were given only to students who had attended public schools in the previous two semesters. It was a formula to guarantee the state would save money when students transferred from public schools to private schools, a formula that worked for two years, saving $4.2 million and $4.9 million in the first two years of the program, according to the financial officials writing the IDOE report.

The projected savings even became a talking point in the historic 2011 debate on the original voucher bill. Rural legislators who did not expect that their schools would be impacted by vouchers were told that their schools would make money on the voucher bill because the savings would be distributed to all schools based on the school funding formula rather than going back to only the schools where the students had transferred out. Based on that belief, some legislators went along with the voucher bill to help their small districts back home.

A bill in the 2012 short session would have opened up the voucher system to high school students who had never been to public schools by allowing them a tax credit scholarship without first attending a public school, but the bill failed due to strong opposition by public school advocates and ICPE.

Then came the 2013 voucher expansion bill. Representative Behning, the bill’s sponsor, with the strong support of Governor Pence, Speaker Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem Long, went all out to dismantle the concept that students needed to go to public school first to qualify for vouchers. Governor Daniels had endorsed a “try public school first” philosophy and had even trumpeted that philosophy in a speech at Harvard as the right way to go. The Daniels philosophy was quickly thrown under the bus by Gov. Pence and Rep. Behning in HB 1003 in 2013.

Representative Behning’s original bill would allow kindergarteners with no public school experience to get vouchers. Senator Kenley contested that approach, questioning the fiscal cost. In a memorable debate in the Senate Education Committee, Representative Behning told Senator Kenley that he really wants universal vouchers, endorsing the concept that all private school students could get vouchers, despite the $500 million cost to taxpayers that Senator Kenley had projected.

It was clear in that debate that vouchers as a money-saver for the state was just a ploy to get a foot in the door. Vouchers for all private school students was the real goal. Taxpayers would eventually be asked to pay for all religious and private school tuition.

What were the Numbers for 2013-14?

The IDOE financial report has reported the number of vouchers and the costs for the first year after the voucher expansion bill was passed into law. In 2013-14, Indiana taxpayers paid for 19,809 vouchers to private schools, costing $81,066,786. Dividing these two figures shows that the average per voucher was $4092.

To understand how the savings has disappeared, it is best to break the voucher total into two groups. In Group 1, 12,030 vouchers went to students who transferred from public to private schools, the “choice” students the original bill was designed to help. In Group 2, 7,779 vouchers went to students who had always been in private schools and had never been in a public school. These “always been in private school” students were given vouchers based on four expanded pathways in the 2013 expansion law: (1) sibling vouchers, (2) vouchers for all special education students, (3) vouchers for students residing in the attendance area of an F school, and (4) expanded use of vouchers for students receiving a Scholarship Granting Organization scholarship for students who had never attended a public school.

Taking the 12,030 students in Group 1 who transferred from public to private school and multiplying by the $4092 average produces a total of $50 million for students of families who made a choice to leave the public school and transfer to a private school. This $50 million was diverted from public schools, so that meant $50 million less in resources available to the remaining public school students across the state. From the point of view of the state, however, this portion of the voucher program saved money, somewhere in the order of $15 million.

For the other 7,779 getting vouchers in Group 2, there was no money saving for the state. These students had never gone to a public school and had already chosen from the start of their schooling in Indiana to go to a private school. Thanks to the 2013 voucher expansion bill, they got vouchers anyway. Multiplying 7,779 students times the average voucher amount of $4092 produces a total of $31 million. This is all a new expense for the state.

Thus there are two groups of voucher students. One group of students chose to leave public schools for a less expensive private school, as the 2011 program envisioned. This group cost the state $50 million in 2013-14 and saved the state approximately $15 million compared to what the state would have paid if those students had remained in public schools.

The second group did not follow this path. It is comprised of students that have always been in private schools. This group cost the state $31 million, and totally wiped out the $15 million savings from group one, leaving a net fiscal cost to the state of roughly $16 million as reported by IDOE.

Thus endeth the voucher program as a money saver for the state of Indiana. Now we are hearing all the arguments from voucher proponents about why taxpayers should shell out even more for private and religious schools. Their goal again is to have the taxpayers of Indiana pay for all private and parochial school tuition.

From What Budget Does the New Fiscal Cost for Vouchers Come?

The General Assembly did not set up a line item for vouchers in the state budget. Given that, where will the $15.7 million come from to pay for the new voucher costs?

Voucher payments to private schools have always come out of the line item for public school tuition support. This fit with the theory that whatever the costs of vouchers for students transferring out of public schools, the costs would always be less than the costs for those students had they stayed in public schools. Now, this has all changed.

The General Assembly added $132 million to the tuition support budget for 2013-2014, an anemic 2% increase over the previous year. The $15.7 million for vouchers has to come from that amount. Subtracting out the bill for private school vouchers shows that the true increase for 2013-14 was about $115 million, turning the 2% increase into a 1.74% increase.

That 2% increase was already an historic low increase for public school funding. Except during the Great Recession budgets in 2009 and 2011, schools had not dipped below 2.4% in the last 20 years. A 2% increase has left many school districts in dire financial condition as they just try to maintain current programs. Now the extra money for private school vouchers will dig further into the money for public school programs.

This is exactly the scenario that Joel Hand painted for legislators as he lobbied on behalf of ICPE against voucher expansion in the 2013 session. At the last moment of the budget session in the final budget version, legislators acknowledged that the problem was real by adding a $25 million dollar emergency fund which the budget committee could vote to use to supplement the tuition support budget. In the words of Ways of Means Chairman Tim Brown as the final budget was presented for passage, this fund “would protect the foundational support.” Otherwise, public schools would have to give back a share of what they had already been promised to pay for the $15.7 million in new costs for vouchers.

I have not heard if the budget committee has made any plans to implement this $25 million “foundational protection” fund, but they will need to do so unless somehow they over budgeted for public school tuition support. We should all be watching for that move, which no doubt will be done quietly and close to the vest in order to avoid the questions this raises about the expensive 2013 voucher expansion.

As if this situation wasn’t bad enough for public school funding, the school budget for the second year of the biennium in 2014-15 lifted school funding by only 1%, well below the 1.6% cost of living cited in expert testimony during the 2013 budget process. This 1% increase meant an additional budgeted amount of $69 million for tuition support in 2014-15. If another $15 million is spent in 2014-15 on the voucher program, the new tuition support amount for public schools would drop to $54 million, making the true increase only 0.78%.

Fortunately, the $25 million “bailout fund” was set up for 2014-15 as well. It looks like it will be needed.

All this makes funding for the 1 million plus students in public schools look like an afterthought, and indeed it has become that. We should never lose track of the thought that lower resources for public school students translate to higher class sizes and lower funding for student programs, especially for extra programs addressing students who need extra help. Public schools serve the vast majority of students of poverty, and the historically low biennial budget of 2% and 1% has certainly hurt programs to help them.

Spinning

When these voucher figures were released in June, the voucher proponents went right to work to spin the message. Their protests led columnist Matthew Tully, a voucher supporter, to write “the state Department of Education released a report claiming, dubiously, that the state’s recently expanded voucher program cost Indiana $16 million last year.” (Indianapolis Star, June 25, 2014)

There is nothing dubious about the IDOE figures. The steps IDOE followed to determine the savings from the voucher program were written by the General Assembly.

The General Assembly, not the IDOE, set up the formula for determining savings in non-code provisions of the budget bill. The five steps prescribed in the budget are summarized as follows and can also be seen on page 21 of the IDOE report:

Step 1: determine the total amount distributed in the year for voucher scholarships.

Step 2: determine the total amount public schools including charter (but not virtual charter) schools would have received if those students who received voucher scholarships and who were enrolled in a public school during the preceding two semesters “had instead remained enrolled in public schools and had not enrolled in private schools.”

Step 3: subtract the first number from the second number.

Step 4: determine the percentage of the total state tuition support distributed to each school district and to each charter school (excluding virtual charter schools).

Step 5: multiply the amount of savings in Step 3 by the percentage in Step 4 to determine how much of the savings goes back to each district and charter school.

In the words of the report, “The five-step calculation resulted in no savings from the Choice Scholarship Program for the 2013-14 school year. Therefore, the Department will not make a savings distribution to school corporations and charter schools.”

It seems obvious that when 7779 vouchers (39%) were given out for students who had never attended a public school and for which the state had to pay the full amount without any savings factor, there would be no overall savings. The 2013 voucher expansion law clearly turned the voucher program from a money saver to new fiscal cost for the taxpayers of Indiana.

Let your legislators know you are very disappointed that they expanded vouchers in 2013 and created an expensive additional fiscal cost of nearly $16 million. That money could have been used for preschool or similar important education priorities other than paying for students to go to the private schools that they have always gone to.

Your messages on behalf of public education make a big difference. Thanks for participating! Please keep up your steadfast support of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The fall ICPE membership meeting in Indianapolis will be held on Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 2pm at the Washington Township Education Center on the corner of 86th and Woodfield Crossing. The video “Rise Above the Mark” will be featured at the meeting and Rocky Killion, the video’s producer, will be among the panelists to discuss the film afterward. Prior to the 2pm meeting, a reception will begin at 12:45 honoring Dr. Bob Dalton for his 63 years of enthusiastic service to public education. Come join us on Sept. 6th!

We need your membership to help pay the bills for ICPE lobbying efforts. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

ISTA Action Alert: Board Votes to Deprofessionalize Teaching

Reposted from ISTA

May 28, 2014
  • Despite being against common sense and the wrong thing to do, they voted for it.
  • Despite studies showing that setting higher bars and training for teachers is best for students, they voted for it.
  • Despite overwhelming opposition from public forums held throughout the state, they voted for it.
Voting in support of the career specialist permit aka the "adjunct permit" in REPA III is wrong on many levels. However, 6 members of the State Board of Education did so earlier this month.

We believe that our students deserve teachers who are trained in areas like child development, child psychology and how to run a classroom.

We believe that student teaching under an experienced mentor in a real classroom environment should be required for the sake of our children’s education.

We are not the only ones who believe this. Leaders from more than 10 professional and parent organizations concerned about educating Indiana's children joined with ISTA to oppose the career specialist permit in REPA III.

Please thank these members of the State Board of Education for their opposition to the career specialist permit:
More importantly, please email these members asking them to reconsider their vote in support of the career specialist permit.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #179 – May 21, 2014

[NOTE: You can contact State Board of Education Members by clicking on this link: http://www.in.gov/sboe/2396.htm]

Dear Friends,

On May 14th, the State Board of Education in a close 6-5 vote made a fundamental error in lowering the standards teachers for a teaching license in Indiana. Indiana doesn’t need lower standards for teachers.

By the Board’s close vote, the concept is still alive in the REPA 3 package of licensing rules to allow graduates with no teacher training or student teaching to get a two-year renewable license to teach secondary students in Indiana.

After noting the discussion points below, I urge all advocates for strong public schools to contact their State Board member and all State Board members to register your surprise that the idea of giving a teaching license to untrained teachers is still alive in REPA 3. We need to maintain our current standards for teachers and not to lower them.

Proposed by Dr. Bennett in 2012, the pathway to a teacher license without first studying how to teach is still alive.

REPA 3 Discussion at the May 14th Meeting

Jill Shedd of the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana and Keith Gambill of the ISTA started the meeting with public comments opposing the Adjunct Teaching license. Both articulately explained that Emergency Licenses, Advanced Degree Licenses and Transition-to-Teaching Licenses provide all the flexibility and alternative licensing pathways that administrators or future teachers need.

After considerable discussion which included changing the name from “Adjunct Teacher” to “Career Specialist”, Superintendent Ritz moved to strike consideration in REPA 3 of the Adjunct Teacher license which could provide a renewable license to graduates who have had no teacher training or student teaching. After a lengthy debate and a roll call vote, the motion to strike failed 5-6.

Proponents: Six Votes For the Adjunct License Proposal

Of the six votes for retaining the Adjunct license concept, three were appointed by Gov. Daniels: Dan Elsener, B.J. Watts and Tony Walker. Three were appointed by Gov. Pence: David Freitas, Andrea Neal and Gordon Hendry.

Proponents glamorized this proposal as a new pathway for teachers. Dan Elsener said we should “respect superintendents.” He said, as quoted in Eric Weddle’s story in the Indianapolis Star (May 15, 2014, pA10), “I like opening up the field. I think it is opening another option, and no one has to do this. The quality and type of training in a professional growth program is a local option. If they find a new and better mousetrap to develop a teacher, I like that innovation.”

I imagine the teacher training programs of Indiana really love to be compared to “mousetraps.” He also seems unaware that funding for local professional development programs is a huge problem since the state zeroed out its professional development budget four years ago.

Andrea Neal pointedly demanded to see the research that teacher training programs did a better job in prepping teachers than on-the-job mentorships.

I imagine that same question was asked by naysayers in 1918 when my first alma mater became Ball State Teacher’s College.

Have the 100 years of experience in training teachers in Indiana been worthless? Some want our citizens to think so. I certainly disagree.

Brad Oliver, in response, asked Andrea Neal for the research that a simple mentorship program would be as effective as a teacher training program. Later Board Member Neal cited a study that she said favored mentoring, not indicating whether the study was about mentoring that was completed before the first class was taught, which is the point of this controversy.

Opponents: Five Votes Against the Adjunct License Proposal

Of the five votes to strike the Adjunct license concept, two were appointed by Gov. Daniels: Cari Whicker and Sarah O’Brien. Two were appointed by Gov. Pence: Brad Oliver and Troy Albert. The latter two are the only members of the board with significant public school experience in hiring secondary teachers. The fifth vote was by Superintendent Ritz.

Brad Oliver led off the discussion expressing his opposition. He said as a former member of the Professional Standards Board, he could not support the Adjunct concept. The Star quoted him as well: “We are the last gateway to make sure that anybody that is in front of a child has had at least modern similarity of standards. I am not saying they have to go through a full program to get into the classroom… but how do we ensure quality and what are the quality controls that people in front of our students are well prepared?”

He said if there were no current “flexibility”, he might support this step, but he cited the three current pathways to alternative licensing as sufficient. He called the Adjunct proposal an “unregulated alternative pathway to what we already have,” one in which principals would make the decision about allowing an untrained teacher to get an initial license.

Later he cited the General Assembly’s work to make teacher education programs more accountable by tracking the outcomes of their graduates. He said that trend doesn’t square with this move to let untrained teachers get a license.

He has accurately described the huge disconnect between closer regulation of teacher preparation by the General Assembly led by Senator Banks and deregulation of teacher preparation via this move by the State Board.

Troy Albert emphatically said that the Adjunct proposal is “repetitive in my opinion. Going further would be a mistake.” He said that already every person who wants to teach can get in through one of the existing pathways.

Cari Whicker emphasized the importance of student teaching and said teachers should have some pedagogy training before teaching.

Analysis

What is new in the flawed proposal to lower standards is that a two-year license would be issued to teachers prior to any pedagogical training and to any student teaching. Every experienced teacher knows that the most important hour of any class they are teaching is the first hour when rules and expectations of the class are made clear. The tone and standards of the class are set. A new teacher has to be ready for Day One or the productivity of the class may be damaged for the enter semester. This proposal overlooks that crucial point.

It also overlooks the way principals rely on the track record from student teaching and from teacher training to hire the best teachers. Members of the State Board who favored this flawed proposal spoke glowingly of the freedom principals will have to select new talent for their school. As a former principal, I can tell you that principals are too busy to independently investigate the abilities of teaching candidates who do not have any record of teacher training. Selecting such a person would be an inappropriate gamble. We should not experiment with the education of Hoosier students. We should continue to require all who stand before a classroom on the first day of school to be trained and ready to teach.

Finally, the State Board’s proposal sends a disrespectful message to all currently licensed secondary teachers, telling them that this board thinks that they didn’t really need to study teaching and pedagogy to be successful teachers and that learning about child development, curriculum, assessment, differentiated instruction and cultural differences can easily be learned on the job as the school days roll on.

Current college students may fall into the trap of thinking that they can easily be successful teachers without a serious study of how to teach. We need new teachers who have made a commitment. This experiment with our students ignores over 100 years of experience with teacher training in Indiana at our institutions of higher learning, experience which tells us that the best teachers are well-trained teachers who are ready from Day One.

What You Can Do

It is heartening to think that in 2012 there were only two votes against the Adjunct Teacher proposal and now there are five. One more vote is needed when the final language comes back to the State Board for approval in June or July.

There seems to be no pattern in the voting based on instructions from Governor Pence. The Pence appointees voted 3-2 against striking the Adjunct concept, and the Daniels appointees also voted 3-2 against. This suggests that every member is voting based on personal experience and may be persuaded by advocacy before the next vote.

It is notable that all five of the opponents are veteran teachers or school administrators, while of the six proponents of the Adjunct concept, three have no K-12 teaching experience.

I urge you to contact State Board members on this issue. Let them know that you think the alternative pathways we now have are flexible and sufficient and that we should never allow a teacher to get a license and teach students without any pedagogical training or any student teaching. That is simply not right.

Your messages on behalf of public education make a big difference. Thanks for participating! Please keep up your steadfast support of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The 2014 session of the General Assembly is now over. Joel Hand did an excellent job representing ICPE throughout the session. We need your membership to help pay the bills for ICPE lobbying efforts. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

We have raised the needed money in past sessions, and we must do so again. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!


Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thank you, Hoosier Educators

To the educators and school personnel who make Indiana's public schools such wonderful places for our children to learn:


ISTA APPRECIATES YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU DO!

As this school year comes to an end, please know that your professional organization knows that every single day you and your colleagues do more than you have to for the children in your care.

Despite all of those tiresome comments about educators' jobs "being easy," remember there are people out there--parents, community members and your Association--that are thankful that Indiana has such talented and qualified people in our public schools.

Please know that as you begin to pack up for the summer, as short as it might be, ISTA will continue to fight for you and for the schools in which you work and teach. As ISTA president, I know how much time you spend away from your own families to work for our children--I know about the days you stay late, come in early and leave in exhaustion. I also know about all of those weekends spent grading papers and planning for the week ahead.

ISTA and I appreciate:
  • the endless hours you spend in meetings, planning, discussing, preparing and learning;
  • your expertise and the training that make you so qualified to do the difficult work that you do;
  • your willingness to deal with all of the questions, concerns, emails and calls that come from parents and guardians;
  • the personality, the joy and the love you bring to work each day;
  • the example you set for all children;
  • every bathroom break you don't get as you struggle to meet the demands of your day; and
  • the time you take to make sure that our children know their value is much, much more than a test score--even when those scores can affect your own evaluation.
As a kindergarten teacher I spent a lot of time every summer getting ready for the next school year: reviewing standards, creating lessons, building lesson enhancements, studying data and more, all in the name of doing what was best for my students. I know you do as well. But remember to take time to let your Association help. Meet with us in June at ISTA's Summer Leadership Conference in Indianapolis. Days are set aside to help with leadership training, bargaining expertise and political activism. And take time to see how ISTA can be your source for professional support.

For more info on our summer conference, go to: https://ista-in.org/2014-ista-summer-leadership-conference.

Thank you, Hoosier educators. You are the capital that makes Indiana great. Your work does not go unnoticed and it is appreciated. Have a great summer.

Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,




Teresa Meredith

Monday, May 5, 2014

ISTA President on Teacher Appreciation Day

An Open Letter to Indiana's Public School Teachers For Teacher Appreciation Day

by Teresa Meredith, ISTA President.

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you. Despite all of the obstacles thrown in your professional path by corporate "school reformers" supported by many of our state's policymakers over the last few years, you continue to work magic in Indiana's public school classrooms in every community across our state.

Despite some legislators and other "education experts," who not surprisingly spend little or no time inside our public schools, lashing out at you after the release of the new teacher evaluation data, I know first-hand that you are passionate about our children and our profession. You are, indeed, highly effective.

One legislator, in particular, called that data "skewed."

I'd like to remind him and other naysayers that "effective" simply means "successful in producing a desired or intended result."

So, let me share with you some information provided by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education about results in our public schools:
  • ATTENDANCE RATE - Hoosier public schools have successfully raised daily attendance in 17 of the past 23 years. The latest 2011-12 rate of 96.1% repeats the highest level ever reached in 2008-09.
  • GRADUATION RATE - A new cohort method shows 88.4% graduated in four years or less in the Class of 2012, up from 85.7, 84.1%, 81.5%, 77.8%, 76.4%, and 76.1% in the last six graduating classes. The dropout rate was 6.1% for the Class of 2011, improving from 6.4%, 8.7%, 10.3%, 11.9% and 11.2% in five previous years of the new system which tracks every student.
  • ACT COMPOSITE SCORES - Indiana's composite score on the ACT remained at 22.3 in 2011-12, the highest mark in state history. Indiana ACT scores have exceeded national averages in all 23 years of the study.
  • NATIONAL ASSESSMENT (NAEP) SCORES - On National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) basic scores, Indiana outperformed the nation on all 41 NAEP assessments since 1990. On the NAEP proficient standard, Indiana outperformed the nation on 31 of 41 tests.
  • ISTEP ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS SCORES - In 67 valid year-to-year comparisons over 14 years and 8 grades, 33 (49%) went up, 18 (27%) went down, and 16 (24%) were stable. More went up than down by a clear margin.
  • ISTEP MATH SCORES - In 67 valid year-to-year comparisons, 42 (63%) went up, 14 (21%) remained stable, and 11 (16%) went down, showing a clear trend of improvement.
  • PERCENT OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES GOING TO COLLEGE - The percent of graduates aspiring to college went up 20 of the 21 years to reach 77.0% in 2009-10, the highest level in state history. IDOE no longer has this percent on its website.
  • STUDENTS EARNING ACADEMIC HONORS OR CORE 40 DIPLOMAS - For all 23 years of the study, more students every year earned either the 47-credit Academic Honors Diploma or the Core 40 diploma, reaching a record total of 81.9% in the Class of 2012.
This data clearly shows "desired and intended results" thanks to your hard work and dedication. So I celebrate with you these successes that are often untold, and congratulate you on once again for a job well done.

This week, our state and nation celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. I know that many of you often don't feel appreciated after surviving several years of "education reform-based teacher bashing."

I want to take this opportunity to speak for the busy voices who often forget to take time to thank you for your work - parents, community members and policymakers who do know the true value of public educators and public education in our local communities.

To all of you fellow educators who value opportunities for our children to be creative, to develop critical thinking skills, to demonstrate their knowledge beyond worksheets and standardized tests, we say thanks. We appreciate you and your work.

And we pledge to begin today with a renewed commitment to working on for a better public school system for you and your students - a system respects you and the children whose lives you affect every single day.

In solidarity,

Teresa Meredith
Kindergarten Teacher, Shelbyville Central Schools
President, Indiana State Teachers Association

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DOE Performance Evaluation Results



April 7, 2014

ISTA released the following advisory to statewide news media today regarding the Indiana Department of Education's release of results for the 2012-13 teacher evaluation findings.

Evaluation Results Show Most Teachers Effective
or Highly Effective

INDIANAPOLIS-The Indiana Department of Education today released the results for the 2012-13 new teacher evaluation models that link teacher performance to compensation based on test scores. The positive data paints an optimistic picture for public school teaching in Indiana. More than 87 percent of teachers statewide received an evaluation rating of highly-effective or effective while less than 1 percent of teachers received an ineffective designation.

There has been no lack of controversy and contention surrounding the issue. Following legislation enacted by the 2011 General Assembly school districts were faced with a major challenge to adapt evaluations. School administrators were required to evaluate every teacher annually--creating a major shift in time spent evaluating versus leading educational programming.

The 2012-13 school year was the first year that the new evaluation model was implemented providing data results in four categories: highly-effective, effective, improvement necessary and ineffective. The results include data for all certified school employees--including administrators--in addition to teachers.

"Hopefully these results show what we have known to be true for some time," said ISTA President Teresa Meredith. "For the most part our teachers are doing a superior job in Indiana schools. Now educators can stop holding their breath and take a look at the results themselves."

The results send a strong message to educators and policymakers throughout Indiana. Hoosier teachers are performing at high levels and are demonstrating excellence in the classroom.

ISTA calls on policymakers to refocus their collective attention on providing resources to teachers, classrooms and student programs designed to help children learn. "With an upcoming and budget-writing legislative session ahead, it is time for legislators to turn from reforms centered on bureaucracy to improvements in learning opportunities for students," Meredith said.

The data from the Indiana DOE can be found HERE.

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