Holcomb: Accepting school failure: What Democrats are fighting for

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E-mail from Indiana Republican Party Chairman, Eric Holcomb:

Accepting School Failure: What Democrats Are Fighting For
Democrats Wanted to Exempt Their School Districts from Improvement

Fellow Republicans,

(March 30, 2011) – Supporters of education improvement from around the state crowded the Indiana Statehouse today to rally for legislation that will give students and parents more educational opportunities than ever before.

In contrast, twenty-four Indiana House Democrats filed amendments to specifically exempt schools in their districts from measures that would improve the quality of education in the event the school is placed on Academic Probation under Public Law 221, originally authored by Representative Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) in 1999.

House Democrats have given up on the schools in their districts. While Republicans continue working to strengthen our state’s educational opportunities, Democrats wanted to exempt the schools in their districts from any consequences of being put into the lowest category of the school improvement statute.

This list of amendments filed included the corporation where Terry Goodin serves as superintendent, the school where Kreg Battles is a teacher and a school in the district of Greg Porter, the original sponsor of the law creating an accountability system. What does it say to Hoosier children when their elected officials are so willing to condone failure?

Below is additional background information on some of the selected amendments, language and Public Law 221, Indiana’s school accountability system. I encourage you to contact your legislator and tell them Hoosiers want education improvement!

Sincerely,

Eric Holcomb
State Chairman
Indiana Republican Party

Selected Amendments:
Amendment #293 to HB 1001 (Sponsored by Rep. Goodin) would have specifically exempted schools in eighteen counties in Goodin’s district, including Jackson County, where he serves as superintendent of Crothersville Schools, from any consequences of being put into the lowest category of the school improvement statute under Public Law 221.

Amendment #287 to HB 1001 (Sponsored by Rep. Battles) would have specifically exempted the school where Battles teachers, Lincoln High School of Vincennes Schools, from any consequences of being put into the lowest category of the school improvement statute under Public Law 221. Note: This school is currently on Academic Probation, the lowest category.

Amendment #164 to HB 1001 (Sponsored by Rep. Porter) would have specifically exempted School 105 of IPS from any consequences of being put into the lowest category of the school improvement statute under Public Law 221.

Language in Selected Amendments:

According to the amendments filed, House Democrats did not want to take any actions that might improve a failing school and ensure a quality education for students in their districts, including:

[list type=”black”]
[li]Changing school personnel[/li]
[li]Merging schools with nearby schools in higher categories[/li]
[li]Assigning a special management team to operate all or part of the school[/li]
[li]Requiring the department’s recommendation for improving the school to be carried out[/li]
[li]Closing the school[/li]
[li]Requiring the school’s plan to be revised by changing school procedures or operations, requiring additional professional development, or intervening with individual teachers or administrators[/li]
[/list]

Background Information on PL 221
Public Law 221 (P.L. 221) is Indiana’s accountability system for K-12 education. Authored by Representative Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), it was passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 1999.

To measure progress, P.L. 221 places Indiana schools into one of five categories:

[list type=”black”]
[li]Exemplary Progress[/li]
[li]Commendable Progress[/li]
[li]Academic Progress[/li]
[li]Academic Watch (priority)[/li]
[li]Academic Probation (high priority)[/li]
[/list]

Schools falling into the bottom category, Academic Probation, are subject to a number of consequences to help the schools fix problems and more adequately educate their students. House Democrats are looking to exempt schools in their district from these consequences – which would improve the situation at failing schools.

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