Archive for April, 2011
By the Indiana Department of Education
Indiana legislators have succeeded in passing the most comprehensive education reform package in the nation. Today marked the end of the 2011 legislative session, and every component of the state’s “Putting Student First” education agenda has either been signed or awaits the governor’s pen. In addition, state leaders provided more money for education and passed legislation to encourage innovation and focus resources where they can best serve children.
“Years from now, we will look back on 2011 as the year Indiana did more to improve education than any other state in the nation,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said. “Indiana’s legislators should be proud. They have given educators new opportunities and freedom to drive student achievement and empowered parents to provide the best opportunities for their children.”
The “Putting Students First” agenda increases flexibility for school leaders, provides professional recognition and compensation for Indiana’s teachers, and empowers parents with more high-quality educational options for their children. Read the rest of this entry »
Outrage Around Homeless Mom Charged For Sending Son To Better School
By Liz Goodwin/Yahoo! News
Education activists are rallying around a homeless woman who may face jail time for enrolling her son in kindergarten under a friend’s address. Supporters say the woman’s story is yet another dismaying example of inequality in the U.S. education system.
Tanya McDowell, a homeless single mother from Bridgeport, is charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for signing up her 5-year-old son to attend nearby Norwalk schools under the address of a friend. (Her son went to the school for four months. Her friend has been evicted from public housing for letting McDowell use her address.) McDowell may face up to 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.
From the Chicago Tribune
By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune reporter
The Renaissance Schools Fund, which for the last six years has poured enough startup money into new charter schools to triple their number in the Chicago Public Schools system, has announced a new $60 million venture fund to add 50 more charter schools.
Unlike the previous initiative launched in 2004 to raise funds aimed at closing failing schools and opening new ones, this time the fund will focus on replicating successful charters in Chicago and bringing in high-performing charter schools from out of state.
The group also plans to drop Mayor Richard Daley’s “Renaissance” moniker and take on a new name: New Schools for Chicago. The executives estimate the charters promoted through both funds will serve about 20 percent of the district in the next five years, an effort that they said has been met with enthusiasm by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel.
“He’s very supportive of this,” said Phyllis Lockett, the Renaissance Schools Fund CEO, who will continue to head New Schools. “He has spent a lot of time in charter schools over the last few months and talked about his support of charters and the need to support high-performing schools. He sees charters as an important part of that.”
Under the initial $50 million fund, Renaissance gave up to $750,000 each to 70 schools. They include 58 charters, six magnet schools and six contract schools, which have CPS oversight. The fund helped start 13 charter networks, including funding eight campuses for Chicago International Charter Schools, seven United Neighborhood Organization schools and nine Noble Street charter high schools. With the new fund, charters will get $1 million to $5 million apiece over two to five years. This time, though, the money will be doled out as charters reach specific academic, financial and growth milestones.
With the additional money, fund executives hope to attract outside charters like California-based Rocketship, YES Prep from Texas, East Coast-based Uncommon and more KIPP — Knowledge Is Power Program — campuses. The latter is the nation’s fastest-growing and most academically successful charter group with a school in Chicago.
Lawmakers in the Indiana Senate have approved legislation aimed at giving more young Hoosiers a chance at career success by expanding the state’s school scholarship program.
State Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), sponsor of House Bill 1003, said the Senate’s favorable vote sends the measure to the House of Representatives for consideration before moving to the governor’s desk.
Kruse said the bill would offer more school scholarships or voucher opportunities for students – whose parents meet certain income eligibility requirements – to apply toward non-public school tuition. If passed, the number of scholarships would be limited to 7,500 in the first year, 15,000 in the second year and unlimited thereafter.
“I believe House Bill 1003 gives working Hoosiers more options to choose the best education for their children and better opportunities for those children to graduate and enjoy career success,” Kruse said. Read the rest of this entry »
Op-Ed by Indiana State Senator Doug Eckerty published in The Muncie Star Press
House Bill 1002 addresses the issue of increasing the number of charter schools available to Indiana children. The overall objective is to provide more high quality education options for Indiana families.
First, it is important for everybody to understand that charter schools are in fact public schools and funded by tax dollars — just like a traditional public schools. Charter schools tend to be set up in low-income, high poverty areas with predominately minority populations.
In fact, Indiana charter schools’ average student population is 70 percent minority, with 65 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunches. In traditional public schools, those numbers are 27 percent and 47 percent respectively. The notion that charter schools “cherry pick” only the very best students from traditional public schools to attend charters, thereby leaving the low-performing students behind in public school, is fiction. Read the rest of this entry »