Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ISTA Success at the State House

From ISTA...

To Our Members,

ISTA membership pays off. Today we have some good news from the State House. In fact, we have enough news that we will be sharing it over the next couple of days. Stay tuned.

As ISTA members, you continue to answer the call each day to serve this state and its children. And at the end of the day, you should know that when public education was threatened once again, ISTA (all of us together) found legislative friends--some of whom we frankly didn't know we had.

It wasn't easy, but there is no denying that in the wake of a series of new bills that were introduced by the Department of Education (DOE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) to seize additional control over state accreditation, curriculum mandates, state takeovers and teachers' rights, ISTA took the lead in stopping this relentless crusade of bills and worked hard to secure real gains within the General Assembly by building bridges with members from both parties.

The result is that the General Assembly sent a clear message that it intends to step in, engage in bona fide scrutiny and meaningful evaluation over not only what the DOE and SBE have done with regard to some of the 2011 education reforms but also with regard to how they have gone about doing it:
  • HEA 1376 creates the Select Commission on Education -- comprised in its entirety of the members of the House and Senate Education committees.
  • In this unprecedented move, legislators from both standing committees of the general assembly have pledged to investigate all of the policies and rules (both enacted and proposed policies) of the DOE and the SBE concerning teacher evaluations, teacher licensure and the A-F school/school district grading policy (commonly called "the matrix") which is the springboard to state takeover.
  • The statutory charge to the commission calls for both substantive and procedural scrutiny and that a report be submitted by Dec. 1, 2012.
The convening of this Select Commission is an opportunity for us to:
  • make our case as to why some of these policies that have emerged after the 2011 General Assembly adjournment have been perceived as being heavy-handed, ill-advised, beyond the scope of authority, not reflective of the General Assembly's intent, and inconsistent with best practices in improving student learning;
  • acknowledge any positive policy changes that may have been implemented; and
  • make recommendations gleaned from the invaluable perspective of our members--those who have dedicated their professional lives to working closest with Indiana's children.
This work is just beginning, but the opportunity is now at hand.

Because we believe that the 2012 legislative session was a turning point for public schools, public school teachers and for public education, we look forward to sharing with you a list of specific legislative successes gained during the session. The list of successes is impressive and will be shared over the next couple of days.

Let it be said, too, that there are many legislators to thank along the way. That list is impressive, too, and will be shared tomorrow. We must continue to work to create a pro-public education/pro-public school educator caucus within the General Assembly that will serve Indiana's public schools and our members over the long haul.

This is why your membership in this Association makes sense. And this is why, by being a member and an activist, we can collectively make a difference.

Thank you for all that you do to help Hoosier children learn and grow. Thank you for all that you do for public education. Stay tuned . . . there is lots more to come!

Please bookmark and visit www.keepthepromiseindiana.org for additional information and updates as we move forward.
xposted at EAEA

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