Archives for category: Indiana

On Monday, there will be a mass rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to protest the assault on public education.

 

The rally will begin at 2 p.m.

 

Whether you are a parent, an educator, and/or a concerned citizen, please attend to show the Governor and the Legislature that you oppose the destruction of public education and the attacks on Indiana’s elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence and the Legislature have embarked on a radical scheme to privatize public education. Since State Superintendent Glenda Ritz stands in their way, they are passing legislation to strip her of all authority. A reader, anonymous, but using a moniker suggesting that he or she is a college professor, writes:

 

We cannot stop it — GOP Supermarjority wants to control schools — well, the funding of schools and privatize education based on “school failure.” Are you starting to see the pattern here? Only 37% of Hoosiers that could vote did vote in 2014. Young people? It was only 12%. Bloody red Indiana can do as it wants, and it wants to destroy public education. Property taxes are rising as the taxpayer is now supporting traditional schools and all its infrastructure, privately run public schools that take the money from traditional schools and charge high building rents and utilities, and then vouchers to all kinds of private schools — with little oversight. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, and the educated population — they are leaving the state in higher numbers. Poverty is around 16% but really is about 28% when considering the working poor; food stamps have doubled since 2009, and homeless persons have greatly increased in number. And, our governor thinks he can be President. Sounds like a real successful state, right?

Today, February 12, the Senate Education Committee voted to exempt voucher schools receiving public money from ISTEP, the state testing program. It was a straight party-line vote, 7-3. The voucher schools may take a test of their own choosing.

Here is a report from Vic Smith, who blogs about education and politics in Indiana:

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #201 – February 12, 2015

Put this bill in the category of “Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse for Public Education”!

Yesterday afternoon (Feb. 11th) the Senate Education Committee heard Senate Bill 470. It would allow private schools receiving vouchers to ignore ISTEP and to take instead “another nationally recognized and norm referenced assessment” of their own choice. The bill instructs the State Board to develop an A-F system just for the voucher schools taking alternate assessments.

Last year, a similar bill was quickly rejected by the committee because of the obvious reduction in accountability for voucher schools if they aren’t held to Indiana’s standards and assessed via ISTEP. This year, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill 7-3 on a party line vote.

Now we see why the State Board in House Bill 1486 wants to eliminate the current ban on using peer comparisons (norm referenced assessments) in the A-F growth metrics. It’s a complicated web they weave.

Governor Pence strongly endorsed the bill via his education policy director Chad Timmerman, who said that private schools should be able to “choose their own test.”

If anyone doubts that Governor Pence and the leaders of the General Assembly and State Board are favoring private schools over public schools in Indiana’s intense competitive marketplace of school choice, this bill should remove all doubts. The voucher program was sold in 2011 by promising that private schools would take ISTEP and would be measured like all public schools using the A-F system. Now just four years later the voucher schools want to change the rules but keep the money.

This bill would give private voucher schools a direct competitive advantage in the marketplace of school choice because they could attract parents who dislike excessive testing. Public schools would also like to reduce the excessive testing that the General Assembly and State Board have mandated, but this bill only relieves testing mandates for private voucher schools. My testimony on this bill is attached.

Imagine Schools is one of the nation’s largest for-profit charter chains. Its schools were closed down in St. Louis and in Georgia for poor performance, but the corporation is undeterred.

Problems continue, however, as Imagine’s business model doesn’t always pass muster.

Here is the latest, written in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette about Imagine’s legal troubles in Missouri:

“U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey ruled in December that Imagine Schools Inc. profited from a “double-dealing” lease scheme and that it must pay the local board of the now-closed Kansas City school nearly $1 million.

“The national charter school chain used its own finance company, Schoolhouse Finance, to sell Imagine Renaissance’s two campuses to obtain lower lease rates, according to the suit. While it benefited from the lower rate, it continued to collect taxpayer dollars through the local charter board at the higher rate.

“There is not evidence that Imagine Schools ever told any Renaissance board member how Imagine Schools would benefit from the leases,” the judge wrote.

“The Kansas City Star reported that Imagine Inc. did not appeal the ruling, as the company and the local charter board have reached a confidential settlement.

“The judge’s findings are remarkable for their parallels with the charter operator’s Fort Wayne experience. The company opened the city’s third charter school, Imagine MASTer Academy, at the former YWCA campus on North Wells Street in 2006. Oversight was supposedly provided by the Imagine-Fort Wayne Charter School Inc., a local board once headed by businessman Don Willis, but the board came under fire from its authorizer, Ball State University, for lax oversight.

“Imagine’s local real estate dealings were complex from the start. The YWCA campus was purchased in 2006 by North Wells Schoolhouse LLC, an Indiana company with the same Arlington, Va., mailing address as the for-profit Imagine Schools Inc. The sale price was $2.9 million. The local Imagine school board then subleased a portion of the campus from Schoolhouse Finance, Imagine Inc.’s real estate subsidiary. Schoolhouse, in turn, sold the property to JERIT CS Fund, a wholly owned subsidiary of Entertainment Properties Trust, a Kansas City-based real estate investment trust. The same company owned the Kansas City school at the heart of the lawsuit.

“The REIT, in fact, still lists the North Wells campus among its charter school real estate holdings, although Imagine MASTer Academy – threatened with closing by Ball State – relinquished its charter and reopened as Horizon Christian Academy. Three Fort Wayne Horizon schools collected nearly $2 million in tax-funded vouchers from Indiana last year. An Imagine spokesman said at the time of the switch that Horizon would pay Imagine for operation and facility support under terms of a private agreement. About $3.6 million in state loans made to Imagine were forgiven.”

Funny. Usually you need educators to figure out what went wrong. In the case of for-profit charter chains, you need an accountant and several lawyers.

The editorialist in Fort Wayne noted that this is a cautionary tale that was not told during National School Choice Week.

Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature plans to strip State Superintendent Glenda Ritz of her powers toreros. She was overwhelmingly elected by the voters, receiving more votes than Gov. Pence.

Protest this assault on democracy!

There will be a Twitter storm this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST.

The vote on HB 1609 to strip Superintendent Glenda Ritz is going to happen at 1:30 tomorrow. The hashtag to use is ‪#‎iStandWithRitz‬

@GovPenceIN
@INHouseGOP

4:00 pm EST the TwitterStorm begins. Tweet as much as you can until 5:00 pm EST.

Removing Glenda Ritz as Chair of the SBOE is not acceptable!

You can send the messages again and again, as long as you change one character, period or something, so Twitter sees it as a unique tweet. If you send the same message, you will get a notification that you’ve already sent that tweet.

Tweets: (feel free to add on to this list, so we can help each other) Then at 4:00, copy each one and paste it and/or create your own tweets

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP CECI & SBOE caused the dysfunction, not Ritz # ‪#‎iStandWithRitz‬

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Glenda Ritz is more than a librarian

#iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP You can gerrymander our votes, but you can’t gerrymander our voices

#iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Stand in the way of the 1.3 million voters voted for Ritz at your own peril

#iStandWithRitz

@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP

Welcome to indiana where our votes don’t count & ethics don’t matter #iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Don’t mess with Glenda #iStandWithRitz

@GovPenceIN @INHouseGOP @IndyStar @nwtimes Ritz is against the high stakes in tests. #iStandWithRitz

@WishTV Ritz stands for kids against high stakes madness #iStandWithRitz

Please feel free to email elected representatives in the Indiana legislature if you agree that testing has become the monster that ate education. Does it make sense for children in third and fourth grade to sit for 19-20 hours of testing?

Required testing time:

SAT-3 hours 45 minutes
ACT-3 hours 30 minutes
Indiana BAR-13 hours

ISTEP- 3rd grade:18 hours
4th grade:20 hours 10 minutes
5th grade:19 hours 42 minutes
6th grade:19 hours 55 minutes

To: Sue Errington , Rhonda Rhoades , Jeff Thompson , Jim Lucas , Lloyd Arnold , Vernon Smith , Robert Behning , Edward Clere , Woody Burton , Tony Cook , Dale Devon

, William Fine , Justin Moed , Terri Austin , Senator Earline Rogers , Mrvan , Senator Jean Leising , Senator Carlin Yoder , Chip Perfect , Dennis Kruse , Senator Scott Schneider , Senator Pete Miller , Senator Jeff Ratz , Senator Mark Stoops , Amanda Jim Banks , Eric Bassler , Greg Walker , goodinterry@netscape.net, Senator Tomes , Senator Alting , Brent Waltz , Senator Brent Steele , Eric Koch , Sean Eberhart , “judmcmillin@yahoo.com” , Randy Truitt , Gregory Porter , Tom Dermody , Governor’s Office , Head , Kenley , Speaker Brian Bosma , Dave Frizzel
Subject: This year’s ISTEP

Required testing time:

SAT-3 hours 45 minutes
ACT-3 hours 30 minutes
Indiana BAR-13 hours

ISTEP- 3rd grade:18 hours
4th grade:20 hours 10 minutes
5th grade:19 hours 42 minutes
6th grade:19 hours 55 minutes

In what universe does this seem even remotely to be a good idea?

Indiana may be a textbook example of legislative meddling in education. Every legislator went to school (presumably), so they all know how to solve education problems. Certainly, they would not allow educators to be involved in such weighty matters!

 

At the top of their agenda is their determination to eliminate State Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s job, even though she still has the title. They seem sure to pass bills that removes all authority from her elected position and transfers it to the state board of education, which was appointed by Governor Mike Pence. They are also intent on passing legislation to cripple teachers’ unions. Although they repealed the Common Core adoption in the last session, they have not yet decided what to do about new standards and assessments. This would normally be an issue that would be resolved by the State Superintendent and the Department of Education, but the Indiana legislature has decided to make these decisions by themselves.

What is happening in Indiana right now is an outrage. The Republican party holds every statewide office but one: State Superintendent of Education.

 

That post was won by Democrat Glenda Ritz in 2012, when she defeated Tony Bennett, the avid promoter of charters, vouchers, and Common Core, even though Bennett outspent her by a margin of 5-1. It was a stunning upset. Ritz got more votes than Governor Mike Pence or anyone else on the ticket. Tony Bennett, chair of Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change” was quickly hired as Florida Commissioner of Education but almost as quickly resigned when the story broke that he had adjusted school grades to protect the charter school of a big campaign donor.

 

From the day of Glenda Ritz’s election a little more than two years ago, Governor Pence has employed every political strategy to strip her office of any authority for education. He created a competing agency that reports directly to him. He appoints every member of the State Education Board, which the State Superintendent chairs. Now in his pettiness, he and his allies in the Legislature are moving bills to remove her as chair of the State Board and allow the Board to elect its own chair which obviously won’t be Ritz. If Pence and pals have their way, Ritz will have a title with no authority whatever.

 

Dave Bangert, a columnist for the Lafayette Journal and Courier, wrote a scathing article about this sordid situation. Most shocking is the statement by David Long, the president of the Indiana State Senate, in a radio interview. In defense of the party’s willful effort to strip Ritz of her duties, he said, “In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, OK?” The implication was that she was “just a librarian,” unqualified for the position to which the voters elected her.

 

You have to wonder whether he was so condescending because he has no respect for librarians or because he has no respect for women.

 

Whatever it is, he certainly has no respect for the voters. Ritz was elected by a large margin. As Bangert writes, an attack on Ritz is an attack on the voters.

 

Frankly, I would like to see her run against Mike Pence in two years and do to him what she did to Tony Bennett. Go, Glenda!

The chair of the Indiana House Education Committee has started an education lobbying business. Presumably, he will be paid to lobby himself and his colleagues. This is remarkable, to say the least.

 

A veteran lawmaker who oversees education in the Indiana House of Representatives has formed a lobbying company to represent education clients, raising potential ethical questions at a time when state lawmakers are considering sweeping new ethics rules.

 

House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, formed Berkshire Education Strategies last June, and has continued leading the House education committee since then. Behning said Wednesday that he is looking to represent student testing company Questar in Oklahoma and would like to sign up more clients. But he added that he was doing everything possible to ensure he only represents clients out of state, and not in Indiana.

 

“We’re trying to put together a contract that’s very clear nothing would be done in Indiana, even in the potential (ethics) changes, I don’t think I would fall under any,” Behning said. “It’s a citizen legislature and you’re going to have conflicts, regardless. There’s probably bigger conflicts in the legislature…..

 

“Behning’s decision to start a lobbying firm comes at a sensitive time for House lawmakers, who are considering ethics reform in the wake of a trio of Statehouse scandals involving former House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, former Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff and former Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.”

 

The words “Indiana legislature” and “ethics” seem to be diametrically opposed.

 

 

 

 

Sorry I missed this great post when it came out in November. Jersey Jazzman, one of the nation’s best education bloggers, foretells the handover of the York City public schools to a for-profit charter chain and excoriates the state officials who are permitting this travesty to happen.

 

He digs into the stats on York City to show that it is performing about where you would expect given the socioeconomic disadvantage of its students. York City, he says, needs help, more resources, not a for-profit charter chain to siphon money out of its budget.

 

He writes:

 

Let’s recap:

Tom Corbett abdicated his responsibilities to the children of York and defunded their schools.
He sent in his personal hack to force the district to turn those schools over to a private, for-profit corporation through a shell non-profit.
The hack — as if he were a made man — told the district if they didn’t take his offer, he’d take over.
No one knows how much money the charter company is going to make on this deal.
Trust me, folks, we’re just getting started…

 

Meckley believes this plan is warranted because York’s schools aren’t performing up to snuff. But the truth is that they are exactly where we’d expect them to be, given the demographics of the city.

 

Do you want to see a photo of Jon Hage’s gorgeous yacht? Look here. He is the CEO of Charter Schools USA. The yacht was up for sale recently. He lives well. His business is very profitable with taxpayer dollars.

 

Jersey Jazzman asks:

 

And what kind of performance have the good people of Florida received for all of that money?

 
The chain was considered high-performing until this year. And on Tuesday the Orange School Board voted 7-0 to deny its applications for three new campuses.

 
Because charters are publicly funded per pupil, Charter Schools USA would receive about $27 million a year to run the three schools at capacity if approved.

 
“Their performance in Orange County is abysmally poor,” board Chairman Bill Sublette said of the Renaissance schools. “They’re underperforming the schools in the area that they’re drawing from. How can we look taxpayers in the eye and approve them?”
But Jonathan Hage, president and CEO of Charter Schools USA, said he is proud of all of the company’s schools, including Chickasaw.

 
“We do an excellent job over time, even with the lowest-performing students,” he said. “We knew we wouldn’t be able to turn those scores around in a year.” [emphasis mine]

 
JJ: I guess David Meckley knows better than the entire Orange School Board. Maybe CSUSA’s history in Indiana convinced him:

 
“The four takeover schools in Indianapolis lost huge numbers of students — between 35 and 60 percent at each school — between the start of classes in 2011 and when the takeover operators took over in 2012. Schools are mostly funded on the basis of their enrollment, so the departures came at a steep cost for the private operators.
On top of that, the takeover schools saw their share of a pot of federal funds for low-performing schools that is controlled by the state shrink as more state schools became eligible to claim that money. Tindley lost $212,000, and Charter Schools USA’s three schools lost more than $601,110 because of across-the-board reductions.
Together, the cuts have left takeover operators with much higher costs than they anticipated.
Sherry Hage, CSUSA’s chief academic officer, says the operator is planning to stick with its schools despite the costs. But for some, the price tag is proving too high. Earlier this month, Tindley shocked state education officials by threatening to pull out of Arlington shortly after the start of the school year unless the nonprofit could get $2.4 million in additional aid.”

 
– See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/11/york-pa-and-death-of-public-education.html#sthash.wCR7cUKg.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

 

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