January 22, 2014

 

HB 1321 authored by Rep. Bob Behning gives authority to the IPS school board to enter into contracts with outside “special management teams” to create what amounts to more takeover schools – a failing “solution” to help challenging schools enacted under former Superintendent Tony Bennett.

 

Upon entering into a contract with an outside “special management team,” the bill would allow the IPS school board to give away some of its students and teachers.

 

A key provision in HB 1321 creates what Rep. Behning calls “portfolio schools.” However, the bill sets up these schools to be essentially “takeover schools.”

 

Takeover schools are part of an initiative started by former Superintendent Tony Bennett in 2012. Bennett’s takeover school plan gives taxpayer money and other public resources to outside corporations who claim they can better manage schools deemed “failing.”

 

However, this method of helping these challenged schools improve has thus far been a failure itself. All five takeover schools that were taken over by private companies last year continued to be considered failing schools by earning a grade of F.

 

This system of taking over failed schools is not working, so why would the state expand this type of program?

 

Another key provision of HB 1321 would give unilateral authority to the IPS school board to give away the teachers who are working at the proposed takeover schools.  The bill would then allow the new management team to throw out the teachers’ previously bargained pay and be subject to whatever pay and other conditions the new management team forces upon them.

 

How else might the school district afford paying the middle man to manage?

 

Rep. Behning has told reporters that the local teacher association would have to agree to the contract to allow IPS to enter into a contract with a special management team. However, there is nothing in his bill to grant the association this control.

 

The bill does nothing but further the Tony Bennett agenda and erode the ability of teachers in challenging schools to have a voice in what they are to be paid or how to improve their schools.

 

We ask that the members of the House Education committee oppose this bill.