Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oppose Conference Committee Report 1 - SB 189

April 24, 2013

SB 189

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'."


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.

Click to email your legislators now


Friday, April 19, 2013

Wayne HS Athletics Grant

Jessie Newton
Field Marketing Manager
California Casualty

Wayne High School in Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Awarded Athletics Grant

Ft Wayne, Indiana, April 2013 … Wayne High School in Ft Wayne, Indiana has been awarded $1,000 from the California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program. Wayne High School is one of 85 public high schools in 38 states receiving a total of $101,500 for struggling athletics programs.

Wayne High School has learned that cheaper materials and shoddy craftsmanship don’t hold up. The boys’ team has new uniforms, but no warm-ups. The girls’ team uniforms and warm-ups are falling apart, and the sizes don’t match the physiques of the team. The team has investigated ordering t-shirts and sweats for the runners, but many of them couldn’t afford the price. The grant from California Casualty will assist them in the purchase of necessary attire, which will boost morale and confidence to compete.

Shrinking state education budgets, pressure on schools to focus efforts on academics, and diminishing funds for athletics inspired California Casualty Chairman and CEO Beau Brown to establish the grant program in honor of his father – Chairman Emeritus Tom Brown, a lifelong athlete and sportsman.

“Youth sports teach teamwork, discipline and that hard work pays off,” Tom Brown said. “They’re a valuable complement to lessons learned in school.”

The California Casualty Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program began two years ago, with $25,000 in grants across four states. Applications revealed such compelling need that the grant pool was tripled and eligibility expanded to all states for the second year of the program. In 2012, 275 applications for assistance poured in. Fifty-nine selected programs received grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. This year 457 grant applications were received – a 70 percent increase. The amount of total funding, $101,500 reflects a 35 percent increase over last year, while the number of school programs receiving support increased 42 percent.

California Casualty has an enduring relationship with education and school administration associations, and has long been a trusted source for auto and home insurance. “We understand the struggles they face every day,” said Doug Goldberg, Senior Vice President. “This is our way of giving back.”

For more information about the Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant program, visit

California Casualty is a 99-year-old policyholder-owned company headquartered in San Mateo, CA with service centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas. Learn more about its auto and home insurance for firefighters, peace officers, educators and nurses at


Saturday, April 13, 2013

You Rate Assessments

As more assessments continue to be developed, the National Education Association's Center for Great Public Schools wants to offer you an opportunity to raise your hand and share your feedback on the critical issue of assessment.

A group of teachers created the Assessment Advisor website, which allows educators to rate the assessment tests that they're required to administer to their students. We're inviting you to take a few minutes to visit the website and rate how you are required to assess your students. Also, we encourage you to pass this message along to your fellow educators. Your voice and the voices of your colleagues matter.

As an educator, you are deeply committed to the success of your students. Those who argue that educators are against all tests overlook the fact that educators invented tests. When it comes to developing assessments, your expertise and experience should be part of the decision-making process, but all too often it is not. It's time to change that reality. We look forward to your contributions to the Assessment Advisor.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

URGENT: Take Action!


Contact your Senator TODAY and urge a NO vote on new Amendment No. 13 to HB 1003 which turns the current $1,000 tax deduction given to private school and home school parents for educational expenses they incur into a $5,000 tax deduction. Last year, this tax incentive cost the state $2.7 million in lost revenue. This amendment would increase that lost revenue FIVEFOLD.
There has been no demonstrated need for this increase. Amendments to HB 1003 will be voted on today, so your rapid response is necessary.

Our message to them is simple: VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 13 ON HOUSE BILL 1003.