Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can You Support A Local School System That Really Wants to Reform

The Answer Sheet's guest blogger, Ronald Willett, provides parents with some information to help local school systems engage in real reform. Read his post 20 questions for parents about K-12 school reform .

Willett, a former university professor, researcher, administrator, corporate executive, entrepreneur and CEO, asks a series of questions of parents which he says will
reveal how you would support a local school system that wanted to seriously reform.
His questions begin with easy items such as,
  • “Would you like your children to have informed opinions and values that may differ from your own?
  • Are you willing to advocate for higher taxes to lower class sizes, raise teacher salaries to attract better candidates to the profession, and buy technology?
  • Are you willing to have your children’s performance measured in ways other than standardized test scores?
The questions get progressively more difficult until the parent answers questions about becoming seriously involved in the political process surrounding schools.
  • Are you willing to run for a school board, advocate a PTA for your system and support it, or step up to volunteer to serve on school committees that are heavy time users?
  • Would you be willing occupy your school’s parking lot and protest if the system was teaching to the tests, misrepresenting its financial condition, protecting poor or unprepared teachers and teaching, obscuring bullying by either a teacher or administrator, producing flawed curricula, falsifying its true learning performances, or covering up parental complaints, or are those just board problems?
Those who cannot answer yes to most of the 20 questions he proposes cannot expect their child to get the education which they deserve.

His final words are a challenge to parents...
America’s parents are as much a part of the infrastructure that creates real learning in K-12 as schools. You can delegate the chores, but not the responsibility.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Indiana Legislature Summary

Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters has this to say about the latest session of the Indiana legislature...
Recapping the legislative session – sometimes inaction is OK

As for what lawmakers didn’t do, the following measures were apparently given serious consideration but died a merciful death:
  • Allowing school boards to mandate the teaching of “creation science”
  • Prescribing standards for the singing of the National Anthem at school events
  • Barring schools from starting fall classes before Labor Day
  • Ordering a return to a single-class high school basketball tournament
  • Requiring schools to teach cursive writing as part of the curriculum
Other education bills that passed — according to information from Terry Spradlin of Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy — included:
  • HEA 1134 – Prohibits school districts from charging fees for transporting students to and from schools. This was prompted by a spat between Franklin Township Schools, which instituted a bus fee because of budgetary problems, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who said such a fee was illegal.
  • HEA 1189 – Adds a spring-semester enrollment “count day” in February to determine how much money schools get from the state. Under the current system, enrollment is counted only once, in September, and school funding is fixed regardless of how many students transfer in or out.
  • HEA 1205 – Requires school districts to publicize the details of proposed superintendent contracts and conduct public hearings before approving the contracts.
  • SEA 268 – Establishes an advisory committee on early childhood education. Senate Democrats say this could prove a first step toward establishing a state-funded pre-kindergarten program – Indiana is currently one of a handful of states that don’t have one. But as with full-day kindergarten, it’s likely to take years.
Click HERE to read the entire summary.