reform discussed at town hall meeting
large group, consisting mostly of educators from Ripley and surrounding
counties, gathered at the Batesville High School auditorium to
discuss proposed bills in both the House and Senate designed for
The panel consisted of Representative Jud McMillan (R), Representative
Randy Frye (R), Senator Jean Leising (R), Representative Bob Behning
(R), Education Committee Chair, and Will Krebs, Department of
Education School Leadership and Policy. The moderator for the
session was Tim Putnam, president of Margaret Mary Community Hospital.
Of most concern to educators in attendance were those bills in
both the House and Senate that would limit collective bargaining
and evaluations and merit pay.
As the bills are currently written, teachers could bargain for
wages, hours and fringe benefits. Evaluations would be one by
peer review, which means other teachers would review teachers.
Also, the evaluations could be completed by an outside source.
Rep. Behning explained that a students growth is to be measured
when evaluating a teacher. According to Behning, a students
performance is not necessarily tied to a teacher holding a masters
He explained TAP, Teacher Advancement Program, which is funded
by grants and measures whole school improvements not just teachers
or students. The program was first tested in Chicago where it
The program not only provides guidelines for teacher evaluations
and raises but also has professional development opportunities
available. According to Behning, the state is working on an on-line
option that could be taken at the teachers convenience.
School vouchers were also discussed. According to Behning, a parent
will have the ability to move a student from a public school to
a private or parochial school if it is in the best interest of
the student with tuition paid by the state.
According to Behning, the guidelines state that a student must
be in a public school for two semesters with kindergarten not
counted. It does not apply for those students already enrolled
in a private or parochial school.
The proposal targets those failing schools in the state. McMillan,
Frye and Leising do not believe that the schools in their district
will be affected.
The proposal will have little impact for schools in this district,
said Frye. He explained that the proposal is for the larger schools
that are not performing well.
The panel will take all of the input from the educators under
consideration when discussing or amending the proposed bills.
They reminded everyone that the bills that have not been passed
are subject to changes.
All agreed that education reform is needed in Indiana. Education
has to be fixed, and it has to be fixed now, said Rep. McMillan.
We are here to make changes in education, said Representative
Frye. Continue to talk to us. We will do our best to make
the right decisions.
We have a lot of challenges ahead, concluded Sen.
Leising. Be patient with us. We are doing our best to represent
Milan High School teacher Ron Prosser
posed some questions for the panel at the town hall meeting.
He asked them to address truancy and students falling asleep
in the classrooms after a late night playing video games.
The panel agreed the lack of parental intervention was a
problem, but not one that could be addressed by education