Attorney Kristie Anderson, left, representing State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education, debated with Michelle McKeown, right, an attorney for Gov. Mike Pence's new Center for Education and Career Innovation, before the Indiana State Board of Education Friday. The struggle between State Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence for control of Indiana's education policy reached a fever pitch Friday with dueling lawyers arguing over interpretations of Indiana's A to F rules before a sometimes befuddled Indiana State Board Education. Kristie Anderson, representing Ritz and the the Indiana Department of Education, stood side-by-side with Michelle McKeown, an attorney for Pence's new Center for Education and Career Innovation, offering competing interpretations of state law. Board members, meanwhile, sparred over which advice to follow. “It seems as if our debate is about the board’s role and when it should start,” Ritz said The first meeting since tension boiled over last month into a lawsuit by state Superintendent Glenda Ritz against the other 10 members of the board lived up to its billing as another battle royale.
Indiana was one of the one of the national headlines for its gains on the NAEP test, which is sometimes called "the nation's report card:" Big NAEP test score gains prompted a hot debate Thursday about who gets credit. (Chalkbeat) StateImpact has a nice chart on Indiana's NAEP scores over the past decade. (StateImpact) Bennett says he doesn't take credit, but that reforms led to test score gains. (WIBC) Indiana, U.S. students improved on national tests. (The Statehouse File, AP, Indy Star) Across the Chalkbeat network NAEP scores made big jumps in Tennessee; less so in Colorado and NYC:
The Indiana Association of Public Charter Schools recently praised a $2 million donation to Herron, an Indianapolis charter high school. In a move that has stunned charter school advocates, the Indiana Association of Public Charter Schools will shut down at the end of the year unless emergency funds can be found to save it, one of it's board members confirmed today. The organization, the state chapter of a national group, advocates for charter schools in the legislature and provides other services to member schools. If the organization shuts down it could leave charter schools without a direct lobbying voice or a resource for schools who need start up assistance or other basic services. Six of the organization's nine board members have resigned and the staff has been reduced from four to one. One of the remaining board members, Carey Dahncke, said he is hopeful the group can be reborn. "The association has failed to hit some of its targets," said Dahncke, who is executive director of Christel House Academy charter schools. "There is great concern about the ability to meet its debts." The news came as a shock to Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and a longtime charter school supporter. "It's disappointing," he said. "I would certainly encourage the schools to get together, at least on an informal basis, to see how they can remain in touch with each other and represent their interests."
Indiana fourth graders made big gains on a national test, which released scores today. Indiana fourth graders made big gains on a national test of reading and math known as the "nation's report card," according to data released today. Indiana's 2013 gains were top five among the 50 states on both fourth grade reading and math. Eighth graders posted smaller gains in both reading and math. Hoosier test takers scored above the national average on all four exams administered. "“I am encouraged by the gains that Hoosier students showed on these tests, particularly their gains in the fourth grade," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said in a statement. "This is yet another sign of the hard work and dedication exhibited by our educators, administrators, parents, and most importantly, students every day in our schools.” The state's success instantly renewed debate about reforms pushed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels and ex-state Superintendent Tony Bennett over four years beginning in 2008. Bennett was defeated in the 2012 election in a stunning upset by current state Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, said Bennett's fight for reform may have cost him his job but it appears to have yielded improvements. "I think we're starting to see results," said Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. "These battles are hard-fought, and if we didn't see any results, then we might wonder if it's worth it." Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, attributed the gains to standards reform in the early 2000s, specifically rejecting Bennett and Daniels' policies as a reason for the improvement.
IPS school board's resources committee met Wednesday. A company could bring a "significant" number of new jobs to the city if the Indianapolis Public School Board agrees to sell a historic property it owns on Southeastern Avenue. That's what Deputy Mayor Deron Kintner told the board's resources committee Wednesday. He said he could not name the company but described it having a "presence" in Indianapolis currently. "This will lead to a lot of jobs and property taxes," he said. "I wish I could tell you more but that's all I can discuss now." The site is near the historic "Mallory Complex" area on the East side. The company would like the city to acquire a district-owned building at 1316 Southeastern Ave., which currently warehouses furniture and supplies for schools. It would then buy the building from the city. Board members were generally supportive of working toward a sale.
The first hearing was held Tuesday on state Superintendent Glenda Ritz's lawsuit against the Indiana State Board of Education: Judge's questions whether Ritz has the right to sue. (Chalkbeat) Ritz lawyer says Zoeller shouldn't have "exclusive power." (StateImpact) Zoeller's lawyers say only the attorney general can initiate a lawsuit (NWI) Ritz's lawyers: Don't give Zoeller czar-like authority. (WISH-TV) A decision about Ritz's right to sue should come soon. (The Statehouse File, Journal Gazette, Indy Star) Tuesday was also Election Day, and not a particularly good one for schools:
Ritz did not attend today's hearing, at which her lawyers argued her suit against the State Board of Education should be allowed to proceed. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg had a tough question for state Superintendent Glenda Ritz today: Why should he let her lawsuit against the Indiana State Board of Education go forward? That was just one of the queries Rosenberg put before the department's staff lawyers that Ritz used to represent her over Attorney General Greg Zoeller's objections. If Ritz's legal team can't convince Rosenberg that they have a right to stick with the case, the suit that riled both sides of the aisle in the statehouse could be over by next week. Ritz last month sued the other 10 members of the Indiana State Board of Education in a protest of their push to move forward with calculating A to F grades for schools faster than Ritz had advocated. The lawsuit blew the lid off simmering tensions among Ritz and state board members, who disagree on a swath of education issues, from accountability to how to promote students between grades. Ritz's lawsuit targeted their latest disagreement. State board members have been frustrated that A to F grades for schools have not yet been released. But Ritz argues that problems with online testing last spring are the cause of the delay. Still, board members wrote a joint letter to legislative leaders asking them to have the Legislative Service Agency calculate the grades while Ritz was out of the country. In her lawsuit, Ritz argued that the move violated the state's transparency laws. By jointly signing a letter to lawmakers, she argued, the board effectively made a decision outside of a public meeting, which her suit contends is a violation of state law. In court today, discussion focused on whether Ritz has the right to file a lawsuit at all. The case was originally made by Zoeller, who asked the court to remove Ritz's attorneys from from the case, a step that would effectively end the suit altogether. Zoeller argued that Ritz could only initiate a lawsuit with assistance from his office.
Butler junior Briana Ulba works with students at the Lab School as part of a college class that meets at IPS School 60. Aspiring teacher Bridget Spitale was watching a lesson about adjectives when she realized taking college classes in an elementary school worked. She was assisting in teacher Mary Ellen Estridge's classroom while she was talking with her kindergarten and first grade students about adjectives. Estridge moved to telling a story and the way the lesson unfolded was a breakthrough for Spitale's understanding of effective teaching. "It was an eye-opening moment," said Spitale, a Butler junior from Hammond. The lab school, also known as Indianapolis Public School 60, is a collaboration between the university and the school district and follows a unique curriculum inspired by an Italian educational strategy known as Reggio Emilia. Children are placed among a variety of physical materials that are used to help them experience and understand the concepts they learn.
Among the statewide issues Indiana media wrote about this weekend included, what else, Glenda Ritz, but also teacher transfers, A to F grading and school safety: A survey says 83 percent of current or former IPS teachers changed schools involuntarily in their first four years. (Chalkbeat) Dave Bangert: West Lafayette lawmakers wonder whether the state superintendent should be appointed. (Journal Courier) Ritz, Zoeller and the state board are still arguing over who can sue whom. (Indy Star) For the third straight year, Indiana struggles to devise a school grading system. (NWI) Lesley Wiedenbener: School resources officers can solve lots of problems for schools. (The Statehouse File) Editorial: Indiana has a critical need to improve early education, which should bring feuding factions together. (Indy Star)
Here are some end of the week education stories from around the state and nation. First, the local headlines: Sharing enrollment data with charters would help stabilize teacher moves, a new report says. (Chalkbeat) A to F panel member says Indiana can't meet deadline for new grading scheme without data. (StateImpact) Avon is one of 200 schools that receive a share of $9 million in school security grants through a new state program. About half will hire school resource officers. (WIBC, NWI) Molly Chamberlain, former Indiana Department of Education data whiz, joins Gov. Mike Pence's Center for Education and Career Innovation. (Inside Indiana Business) Russ Pulliam: Here are some alternatives to Glenda Ritz the Democrats could run for governor. (Indy Star) One late week story from elsewhere in Indiana packed in a lot of Hoosier history:
TeachPlus unveiled its report examining how frequently new teachers are forced to change schools against their will at a meeting on Monday at WFYI. (TeachPlus) When Alyssa Starinsky was called to the principal's two years ago at Shortridge High School, she thought she might be in line for an honor. Two years in a row, in fact, the classes she taught had posted among the highest test score growth of any of their peers in Indianapolis Public Schools; a student group she moderated was a two-time national award winner; and everyone at the school was buzzing about an upcoming Teacher of the Year announcement. But instead of an award, the assistant principal handed a letter telling her she was being fired — not for performance but because the district expected to need fewer teachers the next year. "I read it three times and I was crying uncontrollably," Starinsky said. "You know when you're a teacher, kids come to school for you and you come for them. You are working as hard as you can for them to achieve. I didn't know how to tell my kids, with a month and a half left, that I wasn't coming back." IPS didn't have to lose her. They eventually tried to hire her back, but it was too late. Starinsky did continue teaching. She kept her move quiet until the end of the school year and now she's at Carpe Diem, an Indianapolis charter school. But this sort of forced move — school changes that teachers don't want to make and that are not based on performance — are common and disruptive, both to the teachers and to the learning of their students, a new report states. "I'm a statistic," Starinsky said. "I'm in the majority, not the minority, of teachers who are moved involuntarily. It's heartbreaking."
Amos Brown released his annual analysis of black student ISTEP performance in Indy, which he started tweeting out early Thursday morning: Brown found charters and township schools outdid IPS overall and he highlights the local schools with the highest scores for black children. (WTLC) We also had another burst of A to F news:
State report cards, grading schools on an A to F scale, wouldn't be ready until Nov. 22 under state Superintendent Glenda Ritz's proposed timeline. (Morag Riddell/Flickr) StateImpact Indiana has posted a memo sent from the Indiana Department of Education to superintendents this week which spells out a proposed timeline for release of A to F grades to Indiana schools. The story outlines the key proposed dates: