Monday, January 30, 2012

TAKE ACTION! Email your legislators to urge opposition to HB 1324.

HB 1324 would enable the state to take over some public schools and public school corporations by handing them off to private companies to manage. HB 1324 would enable a state takeover through private company management of an existing public school as soon as the second year after the school is placed in one of the two lower performance categories. Worse, this quick takeover would be accomplished through what will likely be less than a 51 percent threshold of parent petitioners.

"Indiana's original accountability laws envisioned meaningful interventions to assist schools facing challenges," said Nate Schnellenberger, ISTA president. "HB 1324 ignores assistance and instead imposes punishment by forever stripping local property taxpayers from having a direct voice in their community public schools."

“What would be even more devastating to communities is their permanent loss of the entire school district which emerged through a committee amendment. In its new form, HB 1324 would not only allow for school takeovers by privately run companies, it would allow for state takeovers of entire school districts by privately run management companies, dissolving elected school boards and replacing them with appointees by the State Board of Education (SBE).

HB 1324 gives the SBE sweeping control over local school communities but continues to require local taxpayers to pay for the buildings over which they would have no control or influence. Ultimately, under the bill, these schools and districts would become what are called "independent schools" with no possibility of ever rejoining their community school district.

Although it's difficult to predict with complete certainty which schools or districts might be affected by these provisions, last Friday the Department of Education (DOE) did disseminate to local superintendents and principals a listing of schools and school districts depicting what would have been their respective performance grades for the 2010-11 school year had the DOE/SBE’s currently proposed accountability grading system been in place. Based on their own assessment, 22 percent of the 1790 schools (405 schools) and 12 percent of the 290 school districts (36 districts) would have received a grade of D or F. Link to attached documents.

“Since all of these sanctions rest on the validity of the grading system itself, and that grading system is yet to even be fleshed out, let alone approved, HB 1324 puts the cart before the horse,” added Schnellenberger.

Click on the Take Action link:

Please share this information about HB 1324 with your colleagues & encourage them to take action as well.

Don’t hesitate to call if that works best. HOUSE SWITCHBOARD: 800-382-9842 or 317-232-9600.

xposted at EAEA

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TAKE ACTION: Parent Trigger Bill


Email your legislators to urge opposition to HB 1219 as currently drafted. HB 1219 would allow for the conversion of a public school into a charter school upon the petition of 51% of the students' parents OR a simple majority of the school board.

When a public school converts to charter school status, teachers' collective bargaining rights are eliminated because the school board is no longer the employer. Prior law required at least 60% of the teachers to agree to the conversion, as well as parental input. In 2011, the General Assembly removed the teacher input from these decisions. ISTA asks that a "teacher trigger" be reinstated into the process.

Click on the Take Action link:

Don’t hesitate to call if that works best. HOUSE SWITCHBOARD: 800-382-9842 or 317-232-9600.

Talking Points:
  1. Teachers want to be a part of the partnership in these issues where their experience, knowledge of learning, and professional understanding of children is valued and embedded in the process.
  2. Under existing law and under this proposal, if a conversion occurs, bargaining rights go away as the employer is a different entity. HB 1219, absent some assurances in this regard, becomes an anti-teacher/bargaining bill.
  3. Prior law (prior to last year), bargaining was preserved in school conversions and teachers were a partner in the conversion. There is a simple fix if there is a willingness. Inasmuch as bargaining rights are currently limited to salary and wage-related benefits, instilling some threshold of teacher participation in developing a conversion should not be an issue anymore. Teacher buy-in and meaningful partnering, instead, should be an integral part of what would make any conversion workable.
  4. There is no provision in law (existing or proposed) to “reverse” a conversion.
  5. Because this would apply to any public school in the state, the potential for ongoing, chronic community upheaval in terms of “bureaucracies” and “who runs this/that” grows. School communities should be assured that the main discussions center on instructional/programmatic review and direct student learning issues and not these “who’s in control” issues that deflect from job 1.
  6. The existing law is just a few months’ old. There is little reason to make such a substantive and extreme change during a hurried short session when there was so much discussion last session.
xposted at EAEA

Monday, January 9, 2012

ISTA President Nate Schnellenberger wants you to be an ISTA Activist.

Because of your concern about the critical issues facing public education in Indiana, your involvement in your professional community and your desire to make a difference you can “be the change” by signing up to serve as an ISTA Activist.

As an ISTA Activist, you can be as involved as your time and energy allow. No matter how much time you can devote to your role as an ISTA Activist, through this program you will be able to influence public policy at all levels of government.

We know that you will find this work to be important and valuable.

This new Association program allows you to visit the Activist tab on ISTA's Keep the Promise legislative website to see what you can do to assist in our important work of supporting and protecting great public schools in Indiana. The Activist tab will be updated weekly throughout the legislative session.

As an ISTA Activist, you can “be the change” needed to support, protect and strengthen Indiana’s public schools.

Today is a great day to visit the Activist tab on the Keep the Promise Indiana website to get started on your journey.
xposted at EAEA

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Keep The Promise Web Site Update

Keep The Promise

On January 3, 2012, the new & improved ISTA legislative website will launch to keep you up to date and informed during the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly.

The Keep the Promise website is e-Democracy in action.

Visit the site . . .
  • to read daily updates from ISTA's Lobbying Team from the halls of the State Capitol Building.
  • to know ISTA's positions on education legislation as it moves through the legislative process.
  • to contact your elected officials and let them know how your feelings about the impact that individual bills will have on you, your students and your profession.
  • to submit personal photos of you & your colleagues keeping the promise to Indiana's children.
  • to get more involved in ISTA's legislative activities.
  • to stay connected to your professional association!
You can make a difference by interacting more directly with ISTA and with your elected officials.

On January 3, bookmark

xposted at EAEA