Dr. J. T. Coopman, Executive Director
With January comes the start of a new legislative session and important issues effecting Indiana public schools will be discussed and determined. Those of importance to note are the following:
Career and Technical Education funding and programs
Additional funding for K-12 education and efforts to equalize funding
Expanding charter schools
New statewide assessments and school grading system
Indiana teacher evaluation system
Career and technical education was revamped in 2000-01 to reflect programs that would be more relevant in the 21st Century as was funding that would encourage programs that would result in high wage and high demand jobs in Indiana. With little to no input from CTE directors and superintendents, the Governor is determined to dismantle this program and put a new one in place with little thought given to what is being done that is successfully working across the state. The funding for these programs in jeopardizing early entry programs and contractual obligations with midstream funding changes determined by the whim of a 16 year old changing his or her mind about the program for which they are enrolled.
Equalized funding has been an issue in Indiana since the property tax freeze in 1972. As funding disparity grew between highly funded schools and low funded schools, the gap widened so much it is now impossible to narrow it to determine equitable funding for all school districts in Indiana. With the recession and 300 million dollars in funding pulled in 2010, vouchers pulling 81 million dollars and charter schools competing for tax dollars, Indiana school districts are receiving 238 dollars less today than they were in 2009 per pupil.
With a limited pot of money to draw from, a commitment to public schools where 95% of Indiana students are educated must be made and viewed as an investment rather than an expenditure if we have any chance of changing the face of education in this state. The expansion of vouchers and charters dilutes the funding options available for Indiana public schools.
As longitudinal data is a good barometer of student learning if followed as formative assessments, but in Indiana we are determined to use a summative, snap shot in time assessment to determine if our students are learning and if teachers and schools are successfully educating our students. As long as we adopt this philosophy regarding learning outcomes, we have no chance of improving educational achievement in Indiana schools. However, with a chance to change the assessments in Indiana, we continue to ignore the research about effective assessments that will guide learning for our students in Indiana.
With that said, the definition of insanity will continue to be muttered in this legislative session and we will continue to do the same old things and expect different outcomes.