August 7, 2014

 

The first half of today’s State Board of Education meeting was dominated by a series of speakers addressing the board during a public comment period. Each speaker addressed the fact that Indiana’s takeover school model was not working.

 

A major concern was student discipline.

 

As Chalkbeat writes, each speaker focused on solutions:

They asked for the schools to adopt policies to keep kids in school when they are disciplined whenever possible; get rid of zero tolerance style systems that lead to automatic suspensions or expulsions; focus on relationship building for teachers, students and staff to build trust; find better ways to serve students who are not college bound; and create early warning systems to identify students having trouble behaving in an effort to head off severe discipline later.

ISTA wrote back in March about the alarming disparities in student discipline.

Teachers and support staff know firsthand and studies show that safe and successful schools have strong teacher-student and teacher-parent relationships. However, teachers and school personnel often lack the support and resources they need to meet the developmental needs of all our students.

ISTA will continue to advocate for more support for teachers and educational support professionals to be able to have the resources to help build these relationships.

Despite some minor gains in recently released ISTEP scores, all of the state takeover schools remain some of the lowest-scoring schools in the state.

 

Just last month, the takeover operator for Arlington High School made a surprise request to the State Board to pull out of running their ‘failing’ school. Tindley’s CEO, Marcus Robinson, claimed he needed an additional $2.4 million dollars in taxpayer money to keep the school’s doors open. He called his takeover situation “a bad business model” because he wasn’t guaranteed a student body. 

 

It is more apparent than ever that former Superintendent Bennett’s school takeover policy is a failing one. It is time for the state to scrap this model and allow the DOE to work closely with these challenged schools to help Hoosier students succeed absent the hindrances that outside companies bring to the table.