April 24, 2013
Major 'education reform' bill with minimal public input
SB 189 originated as a bill to provide some flexibility to school districts that were deemed "A" districts.
One of the key issues embedded in ESB 189 has been enabling "high-performing" districts to have calendar flexibility (ie. to allocate the 180-day school year into equivalent hours/minutes and not be bound by 180 separate days of instruction).
The House sponsor, Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers) amended ESB 189 to remove the 180-day calendar year flexibility and he replaced it with enabling high-schoolers at "qualified high schools" to go to school for something less than a six-hour instructional day-in effect, as the bill read, "a student instructional day for a qualified high school consists of 'any amount of instructional time'."
WHERE IT IS AT NOW:
At its core, SB 189 has become a "high school redesign" reform bill and at the very least, this new concept has funding implications, accountability implications, virtual education issues, student safety implications, teacher force implications, and taxpayer implications.
The proposed Conference Committee Report did not "fix" any of these concerns.
In fact, it makes it clear that any student activity that is organized by the "A" grade district, an "A" grade high school, or a "waiver" high school that "occurs outside the traditional classroom" and is "designed to provide instruction or academic enrichment" is considered student instructional time. In effect, outside activities are on a par in value to classroom instruction.
Additionally, there is no guidance as to what the criteria will be as developed by the SBE to become a "waiver" high school. There is an emergency clause in the bill to ensure that this gets implemented before the next general assembly convenes.
While it didn't start out that way, SB 189 has become yet another major education reform-this time with minimal public input since this new high school concept was not inserted until later in the 2nd half of the session. If ever there was a topic ripe for a study committee---this is it.
ACTION: TODAY, please contact both your Representative and your Senator to oppose Conference Committee Report #1 to SB 189.
Please take action today.
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