January 23, 2014

 

The House Education Committee passed HB 1321 (Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis) this morning 9-4 along party lines.

 

The bill gives the IPS School Board power to enter into contracts with “special management teams” (i.e. outside vendors) to create “innovation schools,” formerly called under the bill “portfolio schools.” These terms are simply euphemisms for takeover schools.

 

HB 1321 is being pushed and supported by the IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee and IPS school board, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Stand for Children, and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.  

 

It is being promoted as an opportunity for collaboration between the school board and charter schools in exchange for “flexibility” with IPS schools earning a grade of D or F.  However, the chief bit of flexibility the bill focuses in on is the elimination of teacher rights and input.  The superintendent talked about best practices and teacher buy-in, yet his bill models neither.

 

The main talking points against this bill are:

 

  • The IPS School Board was elected and the IPS Superintendent was hired to operate the schools in their school district—not pay middlemen to do their work.
  • The performance record of these outside private companies taking over schools in this state has been a failure—all 5 schools that have been taken over (now in their 3rdyear of operation) remain “F” schools (4 in IPS, 1 in Gary).  Taxpayers have paid millions of dollars so far to these companies with no discernible return.
  • Blaming teachers and their unions is a cop-out and indefensible:  in 2011, the General Assembly narrowed bargaining and discussion topics and timelines and created new teacher evaluation and due process laws heavily favoring school employers.  It is clear that the intent is to make these teachers “at will” employees.
  • HB 1321 is an insult to teachers working in some of the most challenging schools in the state and “giving away” students and teachers in these schools is shameful.   

For more background info on HB 1321, read our blog post here.

 

ISTA strongly opposes HB 1321. 

 

While this bill affects IPS directly, it is offensive to teachers everywhere.

 

Please contact your state representative to oppose HB 1321---it will eligible for 2nd and 3rd reading votes for the whole House of Representatives beginning next week.