Monday, December 23, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #163 – December 23, 2013

Dear Friends,

After opening with unanimous approval of a revised agreement on meeting procedures that had been negotiated earlier in the week, Superintendent Ritz and the State Board of Education efficiently completed a substantive meeting, adjourning at 1:30 compared to the 4:00pm adjournment of recent meetings.

School letter grades using Dr. Bennett’s old formula were approved by the Board by a vote of 9-1, with the dissent of Board Member Andrea Neal.

The State Board’s Executive Director on the Governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI) staff announced that the state hearings on REPA 2/REPA 3 rule changes are scheduled for January 13, 14 and 16 in South Bend, Indianapolis and Evansville, respectively. All teachers and teacher educators should know that the effort to lower standards for teachers and administrators now known as REPA 3 are back and that the January hearings offer the public’s best opportunity to convince the State Board that these rule changes should be rejected. Details are below.

School Letter Grades


Using Dr. Bennett’s old system, school letter grades on the whole went up. More A’s and B’s and fewer C’s, D’s and F’s were recorded statewide than in 2012. There were many schools that experienced wild swings in grades which was attributed to the weaknesses in the growth section of the system. Much was said in the meeting about the new A-F system to come, which it was said will be used two years from now for the 2014-2015 student data.

It can’t be soon enough.

REPA 2/REPA 3

I was unaware until the Dec. 20th meeting that REPA 2 is back and the public hearings are scheduled for three weeks from now. That is your unwelcome December surprise.

REPA 2 was Dr. Bennett’s parting shot to try to lower standards for getting teacher and administrator licenses. He asked the State Board to pass the revised rules in December of 2012 after his election defeat. They were passed but with so many amendments that the Attorney General ruled that the rules could not be finalized until they were clarified and given another round of public hearings.

The CECI has now picked up the ball and is calling them REPA 3. They contain at least four really bad ideas:
1) Individuals with any four year degree can get a 5-year “Adjunct” teaching license.

2) Training required to get a principal’s license would be reduced.

3) Training required to get a superintendent’s license would be reduced.

4) Administrative certification can be offered by non-higher education organizations. Whether for-profit private organizations can become training sites for administrators and adjunct teachers is not clear but remains a possibility that should be clarified before the hearings.
The hearings are in South Bend, Indianapolis and Evansville as announced in the Indiana Register:
Notice is hereby given that on January 13, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., at the St. Joseph County
Public Library, Main Branch, Colfax Auditorium, 304 South Main Street, South Bend, Indiana;
AND
on January 14, 2014, at 9:00 a.m., at the Indiana Government Center South, 402 West Washington Street, Conference
Center Room A, Indianapolis, Indiana;
AND
on January 16, 2014, at 9:30 a.m., at the Evansville Public Library System, McCullough Branch, Meeting Room, 5115 Washington Avenue, Evansville, Indiana,
the Indiana StateBoard of Education will hold public hearings on proposed changes to Title 511 of the Indiana Administrative Code
Since Dr. Bennett had the REPA 2 passed in January of 2013, there are six new members of the State Board, so it is time to contact them about correcting this proposal. One new member, Brad Oliver, testified against REPA 2 in its only hearing in June of 2012.

Thank you for your advocacy for highly trained teachers and for public education!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith


ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose the privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We are preparing for the next session of the General Assembly beginning January 6th. Joel Hand will again serve as ICPE lobbyist for the session. We need your membership to help support his work. Many have renewed their memberships this fall, 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 need additional memberships to pay for our lobbying efforts which begin in January and to carry on our advocacy for public education. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help!

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.

###

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #162 – December 19, 2013

Dear Friends,

Letter grades for Indiana schools are scheduled to be issued this Friday, December 20th, using Dr. Bennett’s flawed formula that the General Assembly rejected and thought that they had voided. HEA 1427 passed last April says, “Not later than November 15, 2013, the state board shall establish new categories or designations of school performance under the requirements of this chapter to replace 511 IAC 6.2-6. “

It didn’t happen.

The new letter grades to be announced Friday for 2012-13 will be based on the old failed formula. To speed up the change, the State Board would have needed to pass emergency rules which they showed no interest in doing. In the October State Board meeting, Board Secretary Dan Elsener praised the current A-F system and called for the employment of the consultant who helped Dr. Bennett with the formula. The Governor’s State Board staff attorney stated in the same October meeting that the old formula should be used two more times for 2013-14 data and 2014-15 data before ending it. That remains the current plan.

Meanwhile the battle for control of education policy rages on. Indiana taxpayers are now funding three different systems of schools, and Governor Pence’s 2014 legislative agenda does nothing to relieve the funding agonies of the biggest and largest of the three, Indiana’s community public schools.

School Letter Grades

The flaws of the current A-F system have been ignored in the news about State Board members trying to speed up letter grade announcements. In their controversial October 16th email action, now the subject of a lawsuit in Marion County filed by Bill Groth saying that State Board members violated the Open Door law, ten members asked legislative leaders to have the Legislative Services Agency calculate the letter grades without notifying their chair, Superintendent Ritz. The fact that this is all about a flawed and discredited formula has been ignored in the media.

No one should forget that the members of the General Assembly heard so many complaints about the unfair A-F system unveiled in 2012 that they voided it, or at least thought they did. The inadequacies of the system are fourfold:

Flaw #1: It is based primarily on the percent passing, rather than on improvement as PL221 called for.

Flaw #2: The bonuses for growth are anemic compared to the weight given to percent passing.

Flaw #3: The growth model used for bonus points is based on peer comparison statistics. This leads to capricious and unpredictable results about low-growth and high-growth students.

Flaw #4: In the final analysis, the current A-F system was badly miscalibrated. Many good schools received low grades, damaging the economic development efforts of communities all over Indiana as they try to explain to prospective businesses why their strong local schools ended up with a low grade using a flawed grading system. The current system is not fair to Indiana’s schools.

I presented details on these four points in public comments to the State Board meeting on November 8th. My comments on that day are attached for those who want a one-pager on the problems of our current system and the reasons the General Assembly lost confidence in it. Yet the members of the State Board apparently want to use it this year and for two additional years to grade our schools.

That makes no sense and challenges the rule of law. I wonder if any members of the General Assembly have noticed that the members of the State Board have somehow found a way to deny their legislative intent in HEA 1427.

Legislators heard your outrage about this letter grade system in 2012. I hope they will do so again this year.

I would hope that all public announcements about school letter grades by state or local officials will include a reminder to the public that this current system has been voided by action of the General Assembly and is in the process of being replaced with one that could deserve public confidence.

Three Different and Competing School Systems

In August, Governor Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation, a $5 million duplicative education bureaucracy, to divert control of Indiana education policy from Superintendent Ritz to his office. He was willing to do this, risking his national reputation for efficiency and small government, because of deep differences on educational policy.

As a result of seismic changes in the 2011 General Assembly, Indiana taxpayers are now funding three school systems which compete in a marketplace of schools:
1) Community Public Schools, established in Indiana’s 1851 Constitution, serving 291 communities or geographic areas, open to all students, tuition free, governed by a school board which is in most cases elected, non-sectarian and non-partisan, unionized under Governor Bowen’s collective bargaining law passed in 1973 which was revised in 2011, serving over 1 million students in over 1800 schools.

2) Charter Public Schools, established by the General Assembly in 2001, not linked to a geographic area and open to any student in the state, tuition free, governed by an authorizer and an appointed school board, non-sectarian, non-unionized, serving about 30,000 students in about 80 schools.

3) Voucher Private Schools, established by the General Assembly in 2011, not linked to a geographic area, open to students whose application is accepted by the private school, tuition paid or subsidized by taxpayer funded vouchers and by taxpayer subsidized scholarships from Scholarship Granting Organizations, governed by appointed school boards, primarily sectarian religious schools (98%), non-unionized, serving about 100,000 students with about 20,000 receiving vouchers.
In the deep controversy between Governor Pence and State Superintendent Ritz which has now reverberated to the pages of the New York Times, each official is identified with different elements of this tripartite system.

Superintendent Ritz was elected as an advocate for community public schools, the largest of the three systems. She has said she supports community-based charter schools but not the efforts to bring to Indiana large scale for-profit charter school networks. She has in the past opposed the use of public dollars to subsidize tuition with vouchers for private schools, although after her election she resolutely pledged to enforce all voucher laws enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 and 2013.

Governor Pence was elected as an advocate for voucher schools and for charter schools. He put his power behind a major expansion of vouchers in the 2013 General Assembly which raised the voucher count to 20,000 this past fall. In his 2014 legislative agenda, his “Roadmap”, he has singled out charter schools for help, such as a plank to strengthen the state’s hand in taking underutilized buildings from local school boards for use by charter schools. Another plank would give state money to pay the differential to excellent public school teachers who want to transfer to low-performing charter schools that now pay teachers on average $12,000 less. Needless to say, this is not a hit with public school leaders who would lose excellent teachers from their schools due to this state incentive. Even an internal memo from his new education agency, the CECI, says that “the program has the appearance, rightly or wrongly, of showing favoritism towards charter schools.”

There is the word: favoritism. Since his election, the Governor has favored voucher schools and charter schools over community public schools. His new 2014 agenda contains nothing to help community public schools. His first budget gave a 2% increase for public school funding in the current year 2013-14 and only a 1% increase in 2014-15, the lowest non-recession funding increases since I started watching the General Assembly in 1997. Low funding levels have led to community-shaking agonies in Muncie, Carmel, Fortville (Mt. Vernon Schools) and others. Several districts face the loss of bus transportation funding due to property tax caps. The Indianapolis Public Schools, facing a $30 million deficit, has seen layoffs for three years in a row threaten the stability of remarkably improved programs such as the Harshman Magnet Middle School, recently highlighted in the Indianapolis Star.

In the intense conflict among these three competing school systems, the Governor is taking every legal edge to take policy control away from Superintendent Ritz and to maintain the growth of the two new systems at the expense of community public schools.

Governor Pence vs. State Superintendent Ritz

The Governor has all the power in this dispute with the State Superintendent. He has appointed State Board members who vigorously pursue his positions and join in his steady campaign to reduce the influence of the State Superintendent. If any vote is held, he will win. It is not surprising that a CECI memo discussed a plan to seek legislative changes to remove the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. It is also not surprising that Superintendent Ritz reacted strongly to the CECI spending state-funded time outlining options for her demise as chair.

These are high stakes battles. The outcomes will shape the future of education in Indiana. The Governor has taken the lead in supporting charter schools and voucher schools while diminishing the funding for community public schools, just the opposite of the positions taken by Superintendent Ritz on this tripartite school mixture.

In the long run, however, the power is in the hands of the people. It is not yet clear that the people of Indiana want to let community public schools slowly disintegrate due to poor funding and high class sizes, leaving them to students of poverty and disability, while parents flee to voucher schools and charter schools.

The Future of Community Public Schools

Public schools have served Indiana well for over a hundred years. They are non-partisan and non-sectarian forums that bring whole communities together in ways that a fragmented system of private and charter schools could never do. Voting citizens are just waking up to the depth of this issue for our democracy and for the future of our communities. The final analysis in a democracy will be made by the voters, a very slow process.

Actually, the process began in 2012 when the voters chose Glenda Ritz over Tony Bennett. Without the voters, there would be no “Governor vs. State Superintendent” controversy, and Indiana would be rolling faster down the road to more vouchers and weaker community public schools in the vision of Governor Pence.

The people are deciding now which of the three school systems they want to support. Instead of taking politics out of education, as the Governor has said he wants to do, he has put it on the front burner. For advocates for public education, it needs to be on front burner to reverse the hard times that continue for too many of our community public schools.

The fact is that Indiana doesn’t have enough money to appropriately fund three different school systems. As one system is given preference, another system is diminished.

The voters will soon have a turn in 2014, this time in the form of legislative races for the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate. What priority will candidates give to the three different systems in Indiana? Will they back community public schools, charter public schools or voucher private schools? Will they support Governor Pence or Superintendent Ritz on education policy? The stakes in Indiana have never been higher.

I urge you to keep your legislators informed about the problems with school letter grades and the obvious policies of favoritism that are undermining and diminishing community public schools. Your participation in this generational battle on behalf of community public schools is greatly appreciated!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith


ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose the privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We are preparing for the next session of the General Assembly beginning January 6th. Joel Hand will again serve as ICPE lobbyist for the session. We need your membership to help support his work. Many have renewed their memberships this fall, 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 need additional memberships to pay for our lobbying efforts which begin in January and to carry on our advocacy for public education. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help!

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.

###

Monday, December 9, 2013

Horace Mann's 12 Days of Gifting Contest

Educators have a chance to win a prize each day during Horace Mann's 12 Days of Gifting contest--Dec. 9-21. Enter at

http://www.pinterest.com/horacemannins/contests-giveaways-and-freebies/

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #161 – December 6, 2013

Dear Friends,

National Assessment test results released in November showed that Indiana students performed very well in comparison to national averages. This has happened several times before, a positive story that few have noticed. All in all, Indiana’s performance on NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) has been an overlooked story of improvement in Indiana’s public schools over the past 20 years.

Politicians, including Dr. Bennett, have tried to claim this year’s NAEP success as evidence of the success of recent reform efforts, but the details below will show that improvement on NAEP reprises similar gains made in 1996, 2003 and 2007.

Data also clearly show a bigger gain among 4th graders than among 8th graders. This result is likely to be linked to data presented by Dr. Richard Hill to the State Board on September 4th that 2500 3rd graders were retained and tested again as 3rd graders due to retention rules pushed through by Dr. Bennett. Previously, about 600 were retained in 3rd grade each year. Taking approximately 2000 students who could not pass ISTEP out of the 4th grade cohort could go a long way to explain why 4th grade scores on the National Assessment noticeably went up.

Findings for 2013

Indiana began participation in the National Assessment in 1990. NAEP identifies a stratified random sample of students to take the test, generally given every two year. It is known as “the nation’s report card” from a time when politicians thought it would not be necessary to test every child to see how the schools were doing. National Assessment has survived as a respected measure while “No Child Left Behind” results initiated in 2002 have already faded in disrepute and waivers.

There was a time in the 1990’s when participation was optional at the local level, but that discretion ended when PL221 was passed and participation in NAEP testing was required by rules passed by the Indiana State Board of Education. The data below therefore show every result that Indiana has recorded in the NAEP testing program.

Diane Ravitch, in an article entitled “The Myth of Charter Schools,” has described the meaning of the basic, proficient and advanced standards used to report National Assessment results:
“I served as a member of the governing board for the national tests for seven years… The highest level of performance, “advanced,” is equivalent to an A+, representing the highest possible academic performance. The next level, “proficient,” is equivalent to an A or a very strong B. The next level is “basic,” which probably translates into a C grade.”
Since 2000, I have reported NAEP results at the basic and proficient level in my annual report on improvement in Indiana’s public schools. The most recent full report from June 2013 and a new update on NAEP data are both available for those who want all the data. With this background about the National Assessment, consider now the 2013 results for Indiana in their historical context.

Grade 4 Math – Basic Standard: % AT OR ABOVE BASIC

...............................................INDIANA..........US........IN:US GAP
Mathematics..Gr.4 1992.........60%...........57%...........+3
.........................Gr.4 1996.........72%...........61%...........+11
.........................Gr.4 2000.........77%...........64%...........+13
.........................Gr.4 2003.........82%...........76%...........+6
.........................Gr.4 2005.........84%...........79%...........+5
.........................Gr.4 2007.........89%...........81%...........+8
.........................Gr.4 2009.........87%...........81%...........+6
.........................Gr.4 2011.........87%...........82%...........+5
.........................Gr.4 2013.........90%...........82%...........+8

The 2013 Indiana math results showed a solid improvement of 3% among 4th graders on the basic standard. The historical record above shows that even bigger 5% gains were recorded in 2007, 2003 and 2000. In 1996, an eye-popping 12% gain was recorded in 1996 when Project Primetime was actively reducing class sizes in the early grades. Indiana’s advantage over the national average reached +8% in 2013, a level reached or exceeded previously in 2007, 2000 and 1996. Note that Indiana has been higher than the national average on every assessment on this table.

Grade 4 Reading – Basic Standard: % AT OR ABOVE BASIC

...............................................INDIANA..........US........IN:US GAP
Reading ....... Gr.4 1992.........68%...........60%........... +8
........................Gr.4 1994.........66%...........59%........... +7
........................Gr.4 2002.........68%...........62%........... +6
........................Gr.4 2003.........66%...........62%........... +4
........................Gr.4 2005.........64%...........62%........... +2
........................Gr.4 2007.........68%...........66%........... +2
........................Gr.4 2009.........70%...........66%........... +6
........................Gr.4 2011.........68%...........66%........... +2
........................Gr.4 2013.........73%...........67%........... +6

The 2013 Indiana reading results showed a 5% improvement over the previous test, 1% higher than the previous highest gain of 4% in 2007. Indiana’s advantage over the national average reached +6% in 2013, a level reached or exceeded previously in 2009, 2002, 1994 and 1992. Note that Indiana has been higher than the national average on every assessment on this table.

Grade 8 Math – Basic Standard: % AT OR ABOVE BASIC

...............................................INDIANA..........US........IN:US GAP
Mathematics..Gr.8 1990.........56%...........51% ...........  +5
.........................Gr.8 1992.........60%...........56% ...........  +4
.........................Gr.8 1996.........68%...........59% ...........  +9
.........................Gr.8 2000.........74%...........62% ...........  +12
.........................Gr.8 2003.........74%...........67% ...........  +7
.........................Gr.8 2005.........74%...........68% ...........  +6
.........................Gr.8 2007.........76%...........70% ...........  +6
.........................Gr.8 2009.........78%...........71% ...........  +7
.........................Gr.8 2011.........77%...........72% ...........  +5
.........................Gr.8 2013.........77%...........73% ...........  +4

The 2013 Indiana math results for Grade 8 showed no change from the previous test in 2011 on the basic standard. The historical record above shows that Indiana’s advantage over the national average was +4 in 2013, a figure equaled or exceeded in every test to date. In 2000, Indiana recorded a double digit advantage over the nation of +12. Note that Indiana has been higher than the national average on every assessment on this table.

Grade 8 Reading – Basic Standard: % AT OR ABOVE BASIC

...............................................INDIANA..........US........IN:US GAP
Reading ....... Gr.8 2002.........77%...........74%........... +3
........................Gr.8 2003.........77%...........72%........... +5
........................Gr.8 2005.........73%...........71%........... +2
........................Gr.8 2007.........76%...........73%........... +3
........................Gr.8 2009.........79%...........74%........... +5
........................Gr.8 2011.........78%...........75%........... +3
........................Gr.8 2013.........79%...........77%........... +2

The 2013 Indiana reading results for Grade 8 showed a 1% gain over the 2011 test on the basic standard, equaling the 79% level reached once before in 2009. The historical record above shows that Indiana’s advantage over the national average in 2013 was +2, a figure equaled or exceeded in every test to date. Note that Indiana has been higher than the national average on every assessment on this table.

Proficient Standard Attached

By now, if you are still reading, you have probably seen enough numbers for a while. The conclusions are clear. On the Basic standard, the one Diane Ravitch equated to a “C”, the Grade 4 scores jumped up noticeably, while the Grade 8 scores remained stable. On the Proficient standard, equated to “an A or a very strong B”, there is a similar set of numbers which show a higher gains in Grade 4 than in Grade 8. You can examine the attached NAEP results for the Proficient data if you are so inclined.

This raises a key question: Why are Grade 4 gains noticeably higher that Grade 8?

The ISTEP Report from Dr. Richard Hill

Dr. Richard Hill was the national testing expert retained by the Indiana Department of Education to review the CTB/McGraw online testing debacle last spring. His report to the General Assembly last summer and to the State Board of Education on September 4th revealed that Grade 4 ISTEP scores went up while Grade 3 scores went down. This Grade 3 result contradicted his finding that in general scores at every grade followed trends of previous years in support of his overall conclusion that the online disruptions did not invalidate the Spring ISTEP tests, so he looked more closely at the 3rd and 4th Grade data.

He reported that 2500 Grade 3 were retained and retested as Grade 3 students, whereas in past years approximately 600 had been retained. This, he said, could account for the drop in Grade 3 scores and the rise in Grade 4 scores unrelated to the online disruptions.

This documentation also could account for rising test scores on NAEP in Grade 4 and would explain why an equally strong gain was not seen in Grade 8 NAEP scores. If Indiana took nearly 2000 ISTEP-failing students out of the Grade 4 cohort of approximately 75,000 for the 2013 NAEP tests, anyone would expect the 4th grade tests to get a noticeable bump up. The same effect was not active for Grade 8 scores, which showed stable and only modest gains, as seen on the NAEP table attached. You can examine the scores and draw your own conclusion. I believe it is clear that a smaller Grade 4 cohort cleansed of IREAD-failing students would account for noticeable gains on NAEP in Grade 4 and much greater gains in Grade 4 than in Grade 8.

This analysis debunks the claims of those who say a reform agenda of private schools vouchers, 3rd grade reading promotion tests and merit pay created higher NAEP scores.

It Worked for Florida

Governor Daniels and State Superintendent Bennett invited Jeb Bush and other Florida leaders to the September 2009 meeting of the Indiana Education Roundtable to tout the reforms in Florida that Indiana might adopt, especially a reading test for promotion to 4th grade. The validation of the Florida program was entirely based on NAEP gains in 4th grade reading. Elaborate data graphs about Florida’s gains were presented, showing positive results for every subgroup.

No one mentioned that day that reducing the Grade 4 cohort by several thousand Grade 3 retentions had influenced the positive Florida results on Grade 4 NAEP.

No one mentioned that day that Indiana’s 4th graders have had a long record of consistently higher NAEP scores in math when compared to Florida’s 4th graders.

No one mentioned that day that Indiana’s 8th graders have had a long record of consistently higher NAEP scores in both reading and math when compared to Florida’s 8th graders.

A masterful marketing job was mounted using only 4th grade NAEP reading results, propelling passage in the 2010 session of the reading law which Dr. Bennett used to create IREAD tests to determine promotion to 4th grade. The program lives on. When Superintendent Ritz was presenting her proposed changes to the reading program in the July State Board meeting of this year, Dan Elsener interrupted her presentation and her plan was tabled, perhaps permanently.

One can well imagine that a plan to export Indiana’s reform package of vouchers, merit pay and 3rd grade reading tests based on NAEP success has been considered, following the model of Florida. That thought gives more importance to understanding NAEP results as I have presented them above in their complete historical context.

Thanks for your support and actions on behalf of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith


ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose the privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We are preparing for the next session of the General Assembly beginning in January. Joel Hand will again serve as ICPE lobbyist for the session. We need your membership to help support his work. Many have renewed their memberships this fall, 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 need additional support to carry on our advocacy for public education. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on our three ICPE membership meetings this fall. 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.

###

Thursday, December 5, 2013

CECI Plans to Remove Superintendent Ritz as chair of State Board of Education

The job of the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction is being threatened!

Daniel Altman, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education posted the following on the DOE web site today:

~~~

Indiana Department of Education Releases CECI Roadmap

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Daniel Altman
Press Secretary
(317) 232-0550
daltman@doe.in.gov

INDIANAPOLIS – In response to a reporter’s question about attempts by the State Board of Education and Governor Pence’s Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI) to remove her power, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz today reaffirmed her position that the CECI is seeking to have her removed as Chair of the State Board and lessen her authority.

Below is a document that was sent from a CECI attorney regarding the CECI’s plans to remove Superintendent Ritz as chair. Section five of the document details those plans. The document is CECI’s roadmap to:
-Remove the elected Superintendent as chair of the State Board;

-Continue the corporatization of public education to the detriment of public education in our state;

-Transfer and erode local control over school facilities; and

-Take away authority statutorily given to the Department of Education.
“Last year, I was elected to lead the Indiana Department of Education and chair the State Board of Education,” said Superintendent Ritz. “This document shows that the CECI is attempting to change a governing structure that has worked for over 100 years, under both Democrats and Republicans.”

Also below is a preliminary draft of a bill that was circulated at an interim summer study committee that would take away authority from the Department of Education over carefully protected student privacy data.

“As an educator and a parent, I know that the protection of student information is one of the key roles of the Department.

“I am committed to ensuring that the elected Office of the Superintendent continues to serve as chair of the State Board while preserving the authority of the Department to protect the voice of the voters and the integrity of public education in Indiana."

A copy of the documents can be found here.

###

Friday, November 22, 2013

New Contract Online


The new Master Contract Between the Board of School Trustees of Fort Wayne Community Schools and Fort Wayne Education Association, Inc. is now online. You can access it by clicking on the image of the contract cover below or by using the link under IMPORTANT FWEA DOCUMENTS on the right side of this page.



###

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #160 – November 14, 2013

Vic Smith of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education regularly posts his Statehouse Notes.

We're going to repost them here. The latest is from November 14th.
Dear Friends,

The battle for control of education policy in Indiana was on full display at the end of yesterday’s State Board meeting. A motion to move up the public hearings on Common Core standards to January instead of February and to empower the State Board staff in the Governor’s office to run the hearings was ruled “improper” by Superintendent Ritz.

Board members would not accept her ruling and would not move on to the next agenda item, making numerous comments perhaps summarized when Board Member David Freitas loudly said: “You are not the Attorney General. No chair can stop us from voting.” Superintendent Ritz again called for the next agenda item, but when two more volunteered comments on the Common Core issue, she announced “This meeting is adjourned.”

I have watched nearly all State Board meetings since 1997, and I can tell you that I have never witnessed a meeting like what I saw yesterday. The battle for control of education in Indiana is now in full view. Ironically, the conflict surfaced on the same day that the Indianapolis Star featured in its banner headline the struggle between Governor Pence and Superintendent Ritz for control of education policy.

A Negotiated Agreement on the A-F Panel Report

The end of the meeting was surprising in light of the fact that what I had thought would be the most difficult issue of the day had already been settled. HEA 1427 said that “Not later than November 15, 2013, the state board shall establish new categories or designations of school performance under the requirements of this chapter to replace 511 IAC 6.2-6.“ In light of this language and with specific rules still in development, Superintendent Ritz brought a motion to the meeting as follows:

“The State Board of Education adopts the Accountability System Review Panel's recommendations,
establishing new accountability categories.

The State Board of Education further recognizes that a validation and statistical analysis process may lead to follow up recommendations to the formulas that support the categories as they are built and validated through the beta testing period of the new model design."

State Board Member Brad Oliver moved that the first sentence be changed to read: “… recommendations for new accountability categories.” He also moved that the second sentence be changed to read “will lead” instead of “may lead”.

It appeared consensus was forming on these two changes. Board Member Gordon Hendry then recommended that the meeting take a break while State Board staff meet with Superintendent Ritz to work out final language. Board Member Dan Elsener asked for language about the role of the Board’s staff. He said there should be “no confusion about Board staff involvement.” Superintendent Ritz agreed to a break and said the meeting would resume at 10:00am.

About 10:15, she brought the meeting back to order and announced that additional language had been added that she agreed with, along with a final sentence that she did not agree with: “Board staff and Department staff will collaborate with technical experts about the work of the Panel and ultimately the Board.” She wanted the motion to reference only the Panel and its work rather than the staff, but she said she had agreed to put the issue before the board. Board Member Oliver amended his motion to include the final sentence and the other additional language, and the vote was taken. The motion passed 9-1, with Superintendent Ritz voting for the motion despite having a sentence she opposed. Andrea Neal voted no after explaining her belief that the federal government controls education and the College Board determines the curriculum.

With that vote, which included a compromise by Superintendent Ritz regarding involvement by the State Board staff, the State Board can say that the General Assembly’s November 15th deadline was met.

Common Core Timeline Changes

After reports were given about Common Core review committees on English/Language Arts and Math, Brad Oliver presented his concerns and a motion about the timetable for the Common Core review and the need for quicker Higher Education review and more State Board control in the process.

I recommend that you see for yourself what happened next to draw your own conclusions. Go to the State Board of Education section of the IDOE website to see the video of the meeting and to get the full picture of what my notes outline below. I took notes as fast as possible, but of course I could not capture a full transcript.

My conclusion is that Superintendent Ritz ruled the motion improper because it empowered the State Board staff to do tasks that state law explicitly assigns to the Department. To stop further erosion of her Department’s authority, she declared the motion improper and tried to move on to the next agenda item. The board members vigorously objected and refused to move on. Superintendent Ritz declared a recess to end the discussion, but that didn’t work. After the recess, the same controversy broke out again on the same topic. At that point, Superintendent Ritz announced that the meeting would adjourn.

Here are the details from the notes I was taking as fast as I could write:

The Proposed Motion

The first change requested by Brad Oliver was that the public hearings on the Common Core standards be completed by January 31st. Currently, the timetable calls for public hearings in February. Superintendent Ritz expressed concern that January hearings would mean that the final recommendations of how to change the math and E/LA standards would not be available for the public to comment on, which was the main point in holding public hearings in February after the review panels make their recommendations.

Secondly, the motion put the State Board staff in charge of the public hearings and the standards review. Superintendent Ritz objected vigorously to this part of the motion, reading from state statutes that “the Department shall develop” and review standards for approval first by the Roundtable and then by the State Board. She said that by state law it is not the State Board’s role or the State Board’s staff role to develop standards and therefore she would rule the motion improper because it “inserts the board’s staff to oversee the process.”

Dan Elsener asked to hear from the State Board’s attorney on this matter. Superintendent Ritz did not recognize the attorney to speak.

Cari Wicker said “You have your attorney. Why can’t I ask my attorney?”

Superintendent Ritz said, “I am taking this to the Attorney General.” She said that the Department has the obligation to review standards and that there need not be a “back and forth debate.”

Board Attorney Michelle Goff then rose and started speaking. Superintendent Ritz said, “Michelle, please sit down.”

She sat down.

Superintendent Ritz then called for a “quick recess” until 12:05.

After the recess, she reiterated that the motion was improper and she would ask for an advisory opinion from the Attorney General.

Brad Oliver expressed his disappointment and explained his concern about “getting standards right.”

Superintendent Ritz said she is ruling the motion improper and is ready to move the next agenda item.

Gordon Hendry then called “point of order.” He proposed amending the motion to make it subject to the Attorney General’s review. He said this would move the process forward.

Superintendent Ritz said, “I am ruling the motion improper.”

Dan Elsener then said, “This is bad leadership. We wouldn’t do something illegal. We have a motion and a second. That is not the proper role of the chair.”

David Freitas said, “Let the Board speak. Can we call for a vote? You are not the Attorney General. No chair can stop us from voting.”

Superintendent Ritz called for the next item on the agenda, listed as “Common Core Guidance to Schools.”

State Board Attorney Michelle Goff then rose to say that meeting procedures negotiated with the Governor’s office don’t allow the Superintendent to rule a motion to be improper.

Dan Elsener said, “You can’t behave like this.”

Superintendent Ritz said, “This meeting is adjourned.” It was 12:15. She stood up and left the room. Her staff left the room. All nine of the Board members remained in the room.

The video staff started tearing down the technical equipment. David Freitas asked the technician to keep the video equipment rolling, a step noticeable only because the technician declined in a loud response.

The Meeting Sans Chair

About 12:20, Board Secretary Dan Elsener convened the Board members, saying that “we have a motion and a second.”

Brad Oliver asked who has the authority to set policy if the chair has left. He expressed concern about the risk of perceptions. He said we should keep “decorum at a high level.”

B.J. Watts, Dan Elsener, David Freitas and Cari Wicker all made comments. Board Attorney Michelle Goff recommended taking a recess to check procedures with the Attorney General to “make sure what we are doing is appropriate.” It was 12:25.

At 12:30, Board Secretary Dan Elsener reconvened the group, saying “We have to make a decision: vote on the motion or adjourn.”

Brad Oliver said we should not vote without approval from the Attorney General.

B.J. Watts said we should agree to disagree.

Cari Wicker said we have put politics aside. This is not a political issue.

B.J. Watts said no one could have been more respectful than Brad Oliver in preparing his motion.

Gordon Hendry said he was deeply disappointed, especially after the Board had found common ground to pass the A-F motion.

Claire Fidian Green told the group that procedures say that an emergency meeting can be called by the chair or by two members of the Board.

David Freitas asked to vote on the motion.

At this point, Brad Oliver withdrew his motion, saying we should be “respectful” and “take the high road.”

Dan Elsener then asked for a motion to adjourn, which was made by Gordon Hendry. It was 12:40.

Perhaps now you will want to see the video to check this scene out for yourself.

The Choice for Indiana: The Big Picture

Through all the give and take, the conflicting educational philosophies of Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence have never been clearer. Gerald Bracey called them “Dueling Visions” in his 2003 book entitled What You Should Know about the War Against America’s Public Schools.

Governor Pence wants a competitive marketplace of schools fueled by private school vouchers and school choice. This will slowly diminish public education and upgrade private schools with taxpayer money.

Superintendent Ritz wants to focus public money on public schools to bring equity and high quality to every public school. This will upgrade public education and counter the shift toward privatization.

Indiana’s direction in this arena has been the educational policy question of our generation. A strong turn toward privatization was made in 2011, giving state money to private school vouchers for the first time in 160 years. The Governor has a strong team to continue expanding what was started in 2011.

To say that education should not be political is disingenuous. Both sides have deeply held political positions which go to the heart of our democracy and our economy. In a democracy, the voters must set the direction.

In this generational struggle between strongly held visions, I stand with Glenda Ritz along with 1.3 million voters who put her in office. I am an advocate for public education, and I oppose privatization.

My neighbor greeted me as I got in the car to come to yesterday’s meeting, saying she thinks voters didn’t really realize how much Governor Pence could control education by appointing the State Board. Now they know. The Center for Education and Career Innovation, home of the State Board staff with a $5 million budget, was created by an executive order of the Governor without any legislative debate.

The battle for control is now in full view. At yesterday’s meeting, the visions were truly dueling.

Thanks for your support and actions on behalf of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose the privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We thank all who came to the three membership meeting this fall in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Bloomington. They were all excellent discussions! Many renewed their memberships at the meetings. 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 need additional support to carry on our advocacy for public education. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on our three ICPE membership meetings this fall. 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.
###

Saturday, November 16, 2013

ISTA Take Five for Glenda and Public Education




TAKE ACTION: Contact Governor Pence to encourage him to stop diminishing the authority of Superintendent Ritz and the Department of Education.

Governor Mike Pence’s Office: 1 (317) 232-4567

Consider the Following: ISTA members saw the result of the governor-appointed members of the State Board of Education continuing to undermine the authority of Indiana’s duly-elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

“A year ago, voters elected Ritz to lead our state’s educational programs,” said Teresa Meredith, ISTA President. “Soon after bills were drafted undermining her authority. When those efforts failed, Gov. Mike Pence, ignoring 1.3 million voters and through an executive order the legality of which ISTA continues to question, created at taxpayers’ expense a duplicate Department of Education – the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).”

Through these actions, Pence perpetuates the ugly climate and escalates the gridlock displayed at the November 13th State Board of Education Meeting.

In a letter to the Indianapolis Star this afternoon, Gov. Pence criticized the present of politics in education policy making. “It’s time to put conflict behind us and work together for the benefit of our kids and their futures,” Pence wrote.

Actions speak louder than words, Governor, and the very existence of CECI diminishes the authority of Supt. Ritz and the Department of Education. The creation of and efforts to expand CECI can only be viewed as both political and inflammatory.

Talking Points
  • Governor, Indiana’s children need you to govern and be a bridge builder between your appointed-board members and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Glenda is the duly elected Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction—Indiana’s Chief State School Officer.
  • Taxpayers lose with CECI creation as it attempts to duplicate duties performed by the Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Make your voice heard today!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Message from Teresa Meredith

Since her stunning election last November, ISTA has witnessed a growing and rarely subtle display of disrespect for Glenda Ritz' authority as Indiana's duly-elected Chief State School Officer from the governor-appointed members of the State Board of Education--the board that she is by law called upon to chair.

Those who have been around state government for decades have never witnessed anything quite like the "group dismissiveness" that she has faced from the balance of the appointed board--those who should have "gotten over it" a long time ago and become her colleagues in Indiana's education policy-making.

ISTA has watched Glenda Ritz be a model of patience and professionalism while trying to fulfill her twin roles as State Superintendent of Public Instruction and statutory chairperson of the State Board of Education.

You name it, she's faced it: Springing surprise resolutions at board meetings diminishing her authority, creating "shadow" policy-making committees chaired by someone other than her with calculated odds stacked against her, wasting taxpayer resources to essentially duplicate the work of the DOE by hiring lawyers, special assistants, and executive directors, being told with a straight face that blatantly Republican members of the board are independent, and inheriting an A-F school accountability system that needed to be overhauled from the ground up.

And so now, faced with yet another bit of "medicine" meted out by this board with which she's been dealt, while she was out of the country on business no less, Glenda responded--leveraging the very laws that she swore to uphold. And, yes, now, people are watching.....and supporting her all over again.

It is hoped that her action will better encourage and ultimately lead to increased transparency in government and education policy-making...and it is further hoped that the balance of Indiana's state board might take a moment to exhale and resolve to try to work with Glenda. Doubtful as that may be, wouldn't it be a mighty nice example of adult behavior modeling by which Hoosier children might benefit?

And yes, now, people are watching...and supporting her all over again.

-Teresa Meredith, ISTA President

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ritz Files Suit Against State BOE

Status Update
By Indiana State Teachers Association
October 22, 2013

Contact: Daniel Altman
daltman@doe.in.gov
Office: (317) 232-0550
Cell: (317) 650-8698

INDIANA SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION GLENDA RITZ FILES SUIT AGAINST GOVERNOR PENCE’S STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

INDIANAPOLIS – In response to apparent violations of the Open Door Law by members of the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz filed suit today naming ten members of the Board as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the named members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law by taking action in secret by drafting, or directing the drafting of, a letter they sent to President Pro Tempore Long and Speaker Bosma dated October 16, 2013. The suit seeks to prevent the State Board of Education from continued violations of the Open Door Law and declaratory relief.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that ten members of the State Board violated Indiana’s Open Door Law when they took action by requesting that Senator Long and Speaker Bosma appoint Indiana’s Legislative Services Agency to perform calculations to determine the 2012-2013 A-F grades for Indiana schools. The suit alleges that no public notice was issued for a meeting that allowed for this action and that Superintendent Ritz was not made aware of this action until after it was taken, despite her role as Chair of the State Board of Education.

“When I was sworn in to office, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Indiana,” said Superintendent Ritz. “I take this oath very seriously and I was dismayed to learn that other members of the State Board have not complied with the requirements of the law. While I respect the commitment and expertise of members of the board individually, I feel they have over-stepped their bounds.

“Since my inauguration, I have worked tirelessly to communicate openly with the Board and the public. I do not take this action lightly, but my obligations as elected state Superintendent require it. I look forward to continuing to work to improve education for all Indiana students in a fair, transparent and collaborative manner.”

The suit is Ritz v. Elsener, et al and it has been filed in the Marion Circuit Court. The cause number is 49C01-1310-PL-038953. The Department of Education is using in-house counsel to avoid any additional costs to the state.

###

Monday, October 21, 2013

Course Change on Annuity Accounts



October 21, 2013

Dear ISTA Members,

We want you to know that today's meeting of the Pension Management and Oversight Commission (PMOC) went well. Much of what happened today is the direct response to your thoughtful communications with members of the Commission.

Today, PMOC members sent a unanimous message about the direction it supports - not to privatize this annuity work but, instead, to find a better balance between what INPRS believes it needs and the needs of its members.

Today's motion from the Commission's final report reads:
  1. The Commission considered the four proposals considered by the INPRS Board regarding the issuance of annuities to retirees for their ASAs.
  2. The Commission recommends that INPRS pursue an option that would keep the annuitization of ASAs in-house and to not proceed with a 3rd party contract. Instead INPRS should periodically establish an interest rate that will not create an unfunded liability in their managed funds.
  3. The Commission recommends the General Assembly not set a statutory interest rate at this time.
  4. The Commission recommends that the date to undertake these activities occur not earlier than October 1, 2014.
Basically, the recommendation calls for NO PRIVATIZATION and that INPRS continue to annuitize in-house in a way that will not create an imbalance between what INPRS promises and what it can earn in investments.

This is a "non-binding" recommendation, but carries weight inasmuch as PMOC oversees the work of INPRS. INPRS will meet this Friday and it is hoped that INPRS will take new action to reflect PMOC's recommendations.

The reason for the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation date is to ensure that school employees interested in retiring next summer can do so under the current retirement system.

ISTA will continue to work to make positive impacts on behalf of members. Please stay tuned. We will keep you informed.

Please take time to thank Sen. Karen Tallian for her leadership on this issue and for offering her motion. Also, take time to thank the other legislative members of PMOC for voting for it.

Chairperson: Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville): s23@in.gov
Sen. Gregory Walker (R-Columbus); s41@in.gov
Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage); s4@in.gov
Sen. Lindel Hume (D-Princeton); s48@in.gov
Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton); h28@in.gov
Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland); h58@in.gov
Rep. Chuck Moseley (D-Portage); h10@in.gov
Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend); h7@in.gov

ISTA knows this is a high-interest topic and will continue to hold its retirement workshops around the state as originally scheduled.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Fall Message to Members

ISTA's Teresa Meredith message to members...



Questions for Teresa: 1-800-382-4037

~~~

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TRF / PERF Information Meeting

Below is the flyer for a TRF/PERF meeting on September 17, from 5 pm to 7 pm at ANTHIS CAREER CENTER AUDITORIUM, 1200 South Barr St, Fort Wayne. Gail Zerheralis will be presenting the latest information on the changes to INPRS.

All members and their spouses are welcome.

Any teacher who is considering retiring within the next three years will want to attend. Ultimately it will affect all of us, but it will affect that group’s immediate retirement decisions.

Click on the image to download a pdf copy of this flyer.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summary of Changes for 2013-2015 FWEA/FWCS Ratified Contract

1. Eligible teachers* will receive $1,100 (pro-rated for part-time teachers) on their base salaries for 2013-14. Teachers who were rated Effective or Highly Effective during 2012-13 and have continued employment with FWCS will receive this base increase to their salaries.

2. Base salary for Bachelor’s Degree will be raised the next two years for new hires and eligible teachers* currently below the base salary level:
2013-2014 = $33,875 present, raised to $35,500 = increase of $1,625
2014-2015 = $35,500 present, raised to $37,000 = increase of $1,500
3. Base salary for Master’s Degree will be raised the next two years for new hires and eligible teachers* currently below the base salary:
2013-2014 = $37,500 present, raised to $39,500 = increase of $2,000
2014-2015 = $39,500 present, raised to $41,000 = increase of $1,500
4. New teachers hired in hard-to-fill areas may receive a stipend after completing a required minimum time period after consultation with the Association.

5. Teachers Incentive Fund grant money will be awarded to eligible teachers* in the form of a one-time stipend (following final calculation of evaluations with SIP scores included) during Fall 2013 as follows:
*Only Effective and Highly Effective rated teachers are eligible per law.
                                                               Effective                 Highly Effective
School Year 2012-2013 (retroactive)    $2,000 stipend         $2,500 stipend
School Year 2013-2014                         $2,100 stipend         $2,600 stipend
School Year 2014-2015                         $2,300 stipend         $3,000 stipend
6. Length of contract – July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.

7. Per Indiana Law the only items that are allowed to be bargained are salaries and wage-related benefits. Items removed by law are now discussable.

8. Your FWEA bargaining team was able to also keep this language in the contract:
  • Grievance Procedures intact with binding arbitration except for teacher dismissals
  • Any teacher who incurs expenses or damages for glasses, braces or personal items because actions of a student shall be reimbursed by the Board.
  • No teacher shall suffer loss of salary or reduction of leave if the teacher is absent to appear before judicial body or legal authority in an action resulting from student disciplinary situations.
  • Teachers providing official retirement notification prior to February 1 and completing the school year will be paid 2% of the teacher’s base salary.
9. All Extra-Curricular stipends (formerly based on indices) will be rounded up the nearest $25.

10. All other former contract language remains intact and will be put in a Human Resource/Administrator/Teacher Handbook with a Memorandum of Understanding that requires official discussion with the Association before any changes are made.

11. The final contract will be available on the FWCS website and the FWEA blog: http://fweateachers.blogspot.com/

Additional Information

Health Insurance Summary

FWCS Press Release announcing Contract Agreement

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pence, Elsener Move to Take Power From Ritz

From ISTA...

Once again, the Indiana State Board of Education (SBE), consistent with its past experience, flouts rules, transparency, meaningful debate, and process in its latest power grab targeted against Glenda Ritz, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

At today's SBE meeting, member Dan Elsener presented an action item in the form of a resolution, without prior notification to Superintendent Ritz, who chairs the SBE, and without properly placing his resolution on the agenda for the committee's and, more importantly, the public's benefit and future input.

Elsener's resolution calls for him to chair a SBE-controlled committee involving more outside consultants and taxpayer spending to develop Indiana goals-something that the current Department of Education could and should accomplish by way of making recommendations to the SBE.

"Unfortunately, this kind of presumptuousness has become common practice with this and the prior administration's state board of education," said ISTA President Teresa Meredith.

At today's meeting, in the wake of Superintendent Ritz mentioning the need for compliance with Indiana's Open Door laws, a board member seconded Elsener's motion and the board passed the resolution without any substantive debate nor objection except for Ritz' clear abstention.

ISTA encourages its members to contact Gov. Mike Pence and ask him to remind the people he has appointed to the State Board of Education to respect process, transparency and Superintendent Ritz, the elected official who chairs the State Board.

But wait . . . there's more . . .

It appears as though there are no bounds to the State Board of Education and the Governor's march to power-over and over-power Indiana's duly-elected state superintendent of public instruction, Glenda Ritz.

Today's lengthy SBE meeting began and ended with twin power grabs targeted squarely at Ritz.

The first resolution offered by member Dan Elsener called for him to chair a new committee that is tasked with setting the goals for Indiana's education system-something that has always been within the purview of the State Superintendent's office-who also happens to be the lawful chairperson for the State Board of Education. The publicly-funded "Elsener Committee" will contract out with outside consultants, spending additional taxpayer dollars along the way to do the Department of Education's work. Elsener did not give Glenda Ritz, as chairperson, the courtesy of prior notice of his resolution and then called for action on the resolution even though it was not part of the meeting's agenda. Ritz suggested Open Door Law issues with this and then abstained from voting.

After over six hours of handling bona fide agenda items, the power grab continued with another resolution (again, with no prior notice to Ritz) indicating that the State Board of Education was hiring its own executive director, its own general counsel, and will use the Governor's new Special Assistant, charter school advocate Claire Fiddian-Green as its "technical advisor." Ritz was the sole opponent to this move.

"Both of these resolutions are thinly-disguised vehicles to wrest authority over public education policy-making from Indiana's duly-elected state superintendent and they not only disregard Glenda Ritz but the 1.3 million voters who supported her," said ISTA President Teresa Meredith.

"These attempts at discrediting, diminishing, and disrespecting Glenda Ritz and the agency she leads are partisan arrogance at the least and voter nullification at the worst," added Meredith.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) update

The following are talking points compiled by chief ISTA lobbyist Gail Zeheralis regarding the changes to TRF/PERF. Please encourage share and take action!

1. It appears as though INPRS understands the issues surrounding current year teachers and their ability to retire and still come under the existing annuitization policy. Steve Russo, executive director of INPRS, in an email to me indicated that “The intent of the INPRS board was to make the changes effective on a date that would allow teachers to finish out the school year before having to retire. As you and others have pointed out, the rules specific to TRF would require a teacher to have a last day in pay status on or before May 31st, 2014. Now aware of this, I will recommend to the INPRS board a delay by 1 month that would in essence permit teachers’ to finish out the school year. The next INPRS board meeting is in September. I will see what flexibility we have in communicating the intent before the board considers the change in September.”

As you will note, Steve’s response is very much a teacher (TRF)-focused response. Other school employees (who might be under PERF) may not be jeopardized by a June retirement date, but I will investigate further.

2. The Pension Management Oversight Commission is meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 27) and Steve Russo is on the agenda to provide his annual report of the Pension Systems. I presume that the policy changes approved by INPRS dealing with the long-term rate and the outsourcing of the annuitization will come up because legislators who sit on the commission have likely heard about it. ISTA will testify if public testimony is scheduled. More likely, there will be a subsequent meeting on these changes specifically. Please stay tuned.

3. Nobody has really made the case that the annuitization change, in particular, is warranted. Even if there is rationale, there are many ways in which INPRS and/or the Legislature could address it—and INPRS took one of the most aggressive approaches—negatively impacting the most soonest.

~~~

Below is a link to an article from August 28. It gives you some figures to go along with the changes in TRF/PERF. Be on the lookout for a flyer regarding an informational session with ISTA’s chief lobbyist on 9/17. She will provide details on the changes, information she received from her meeting with the governing board, and will also entertain questions from the audience. It will be in Ft. Wayne...members and spouses will be welcome – as well as those in PERF such as police and fire as it affects them as well. More coming your way very soon!!!

State board cuts public pensions

~~~

Please use the link below to the Keep the Promise website to see an update on the changes to TRF/PERF. This will impact retirements for this year as well as in upcoming years.

Pension Management Oversight Committee Discusses Changes to TRF/PERF

###

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Changes in Your Retirement

August 29, 2013

ISTA Members,

Between ISTA's initial notification and recent local news coverage, we trust you have become aware of two changes the Indiana Public Employee Retirement System (INPRS) recently adopted and made effective July 1, 2014:
  1. A change in the long-term interest rate assumption (from 7.5% to 6.75%); and
  2. A change in how a member's Annuity Savings Account (ASA) funds will be annuitized (which will impact the overall monthly retirement benefit if a member had planned to have INPRS annuitize ASA funds and then combine them with his or her pension).
ISTA is working to rescind or amend the change described in (2) concerning the annuitization of PERF and TRF member ASA funds. As you can imagine, explaining the issue and the possible fixes can become detailed. In an effort to simplify the issues, please review the attached document which takes the format of using INPRS' FAQ responses with added ISTA commentary.

Please know that ISTA will continue to keep you informed about this important issue.

INPRS FAQ's.pdf

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ISTA Responds to Announcement of Governor Pence’s Creation of Education Agency


NEWS RELEASE


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE






August 23, 2013
For more information, contact:
Kathleen Berry Graham
317 263 3321
kberry@ista-in.org


ISTA Responds to Announcement of Governor Pence’s
Creation of Education Agency

INDIANAPOLIS—In a surprise power grab today, Gov. Mike Pence released information that he has created a new agency called the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).

Pence claims that the Center will improve collaboration among Indiana’s public, private and non-profit education and workforce partners by aligning education and career and workforce training efforts. The governor’s release states that: “The agency will proactively engage and collaborate with a number of valuable partners in state government including the Department of Education, the Indiana Charter School Board, the Department of Workforce Development, the Commission for Higher Education and the Office of State-Based Initiatives. The Indiana Career Council, the Indiana Works Councils, the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education, though functioning independently, will exist as part of the new agency.” Yet the Indiana Department of Education was not contacted by the governor about creation of the agency even though the agency appears to be absorbing various functions of the IDOE and thereby reducing the authority of newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz.

Following Pence’s announcement, a news release from the IDOE said: “Partnerships require communication. Unfortunately, Superintendent Ritz learned about the creation of this new agency—the impact on taxpayers yet unknown—through news reports, rather than from Gov. Pence. Superintendent Ritz has met with the governor on many occasions, including as recently as two days ago. However, neither he, nor his office, mentioned the creation of this new agency until this morning.”

“Like Superintendent Ritz, ISTA was dismayed by the announcement of this agency today,” said ISTA President Teresa Meredith. “We already have in place a Department of Education that works. ISTA is disappointed that the governor would choose to disregard the input of Superintendent Ritz and thousands of public school professionals.

“We are all in this together. Last November many of our members and the voters of the state voted for a change in direction for education and 1.3 million Hoosiers said that they trusted Glenda Ritz to run the Department of Education,” said Meredith. “And while teachers are always aware of the lessons they model for children, evidently some governors and their political appointees are not.”

For the full release from Gov. Pence’s office, go to:
http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=121572&information_id=187047&type=&rss=rss

For the full release from Superintendent Ritz, go to:
http://www.doe.in.gov/news/statement-indiana-department-education-response-governor-pence’s-announcement

###

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ratification Meeting August 27, 2013

FWEA/FWCS CONTRACT RATIFICATION MEETING


AUGUST 27, 2013 @ 4:30 P.M.


ANTHIS AUDITORIUM


VOTING WILL TAKE PLACE UNTIL 7:30 P.M.


This meeting is open to ALL FWCS TEACHERS

Please note: Only FWEA members will be allowed to vote. Please bring your FWCS School ID to be sign in and be admitted into the meeting. Only FWEA members will receive ballots after signing in.



Per Indiana Law the only items that are

bargainable are WAGES & BENEFITS!!


Your FWEA Bargaining Team: Angela Miller, ISTA UniServ Director; Al Jacquay II, FWEA President; Julie Hyndman, Lincoln Elementary; Matt Mertes, North Side HS; Kim Hunter, Special Education; Marlena Mulligan, Lincoln Elementary; Karen Bradbury, Arlington Elementary; Sonia Henderson, Blackhawk MS; Tia Buchs, South Wayne Elementary


Click here to download a printable copy of this flyer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ISTA Settlement


August 13, 2013

You might have heard or read in the media today that a settlement has been reached with the Indiana Securities Commissioner and the Indiana school districts who participated in the I.S.T.A. Insurance Trust (Trust). When finalized, this settlement, the Naylor Case, resolves the last of the litigation over the failure of the Trust, which provided health and other insurance products to a small number of Indiana school districts.

Despite what you might read or see in the media, NO ISTA or NEA monies were used to fund this settlement . Since 2009 there has been an array of litigation over the failure of the Trust, including litigation brought by ISTA and NEA on behalf of the Trust, to recover from those individuals and entities whose conduct caused that failure. That litigation generated settlements from those individuals and entities. Only funds from those settlements were used to settle the Naylor case.

Please share this information with your members, and in particular share the fact that ISTA and NEA member dues money is not being used to pay this settlement.

ISTA is pleased that all of the pending litigation is being resolved on terms that are fair to Indiana's public school teachers who participated in the Trust.

Thanks for your continued support.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Update on Major Education Stories










July 30, 2013

Your ISTA wants to keep you updated on two major stories related to Indiana public education:

BENNETT CHANGED SCHOOL GRADES

Emails obtained by the Associated Press were released showing directly and clearly that former Indiana schools chief Dr. Tony Bennett and his staff worked last year to change the letter grade of an Indianapolis charter school supported by a prominent donor to Bennett's political campaign and to others in his political party.

ISTA has made it clear that there is absolutely no excuse for the actions taken by Bennett and his staff. The emails in question show that the Christel House Academy charter school's letter grade was knowingly manipulated and retrofitted by the very people who have created and championed Indiana's new accountability systems for schools and educators - unfortunately, many of those officials continue to serve in important policy-making positions in state government.

"The revelation of these emails has created zero confidence among public school educators. This manipulation of data is wrong and needs to be addressed by state leaders to ensure that a system is put in place that is fair to all and above reproach," said ISTA President Teresa Meredith.

Bennett and his staff have created yet another situation for Superintendent Ritz and her staff to "clean up" - efforts that will take a great deal of taxpayer resources as well as time taken away from helping children.

ISTA will continue to monitor this story, assist Superintendent Ritz in any way we can and outreach to legislators from both parties to create and implement policies that will ensure that these kinds of abuses will not occur again.

LINK TO STORY: http://www.indystar.com/viewart/20130729/NEWS05/307290048/Report-Grade-changed-Republican-donor-Christel-DeHaan-s-charter-school

ISTEP+ REPORT

In response to the widespread problems associated with CTB McGraw Hill's administration of the spring ISTEP+, Glenda Ritz, Superintendent of Public Instruction, hired Dr. Richard Hill of the National Center for the Improvement of Education Assessment to review the results. He released that report yesterday.

The report showed that because of the efforts of teachers, administrators, students and parents, as well as the swift and decisive actions taken by Ritz, the average negative statewide impact on scores was not measurable. However, this does not mitigate the effect the interruptions had on students, parents and teachers throughout Indiana.

At this time, the exact impact of interruptions at the individual, classroom and teacher level cannot be ascertained.

"I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Indiana students, parents, teachers, administrators and the employees of the Department of Education," said Superintendent Ritz. Because of their dedication and hard work, the impact of these interruptions was limited. However, let me be clear, the problems with the ISTEP+ contractor were absolutely unacceptable," Ritz said. "I have given local schools the flexibility they need to minimize the effect these tests have on various matters, such as teacher evaluation and compensation. I have also instructed CTB McGraw-Hill to conduct enhanced stress and load testing to ensure that their servers are fully prepared for next year's test and ensure that this never happens again."

ISTA applauds the actions taken by Ritz and her staff to deal with this situation as quickly and effectively as possible.

Educators continue to be concerned. Despite the fact that the report concluded there was no impact on scores, the impact on students, educators and families has been far reaching. Test interruptions caused stress for students who had to stop and start throughout the test before completion or restart the entire test.
ISTA will also monitor Indiana's high-stakes testing because these interruptions diminish confidence in our state's expensive system and raise concerns as we look ahead.

LINK TO STORY: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013307290014
LINK TO FULL REPORT: http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/news/hill-report.pdf