EDITORIAL: Let districts decide when to start classes

 IBJ Staff
January 29, 2011
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IBJ Editorial

It isn’t difficult to understand why state Sen. Mike Delph wants to force school districts to start their academic years after Labor Day; what’s perplexing is why Delph would want to slap a restriction on districts at a time they need more freedom to manage their own affairs.

Delph should put more energy into genuinely critical school reform and abandon the overreach.

The bill, which excludes year-round schools after a public hearing, moved to the full Senate this month after clearing the Senate Education Committee 6-3.

Delph has a point in believing districts have gone too far in starting school years earlier and earlier. At a practical level for many families, the traditional summer vacation season now ends in early August.

He’s also right that starting school later would cut air-conditioning costs and help students in buildings without air-conditioning focus on academics instead of the stifling heat.

But the legislation is unnecessary because the trend toward earlier starts will correct itself in time. Now that the statewide ISTEP test has been moved to spring from the fall, districts will feel less pressure to open their doors early in order to prepare students, and parents wanting to reclaim space in summer calendars will press school boards for later start dates.

Delph’s bill also runs counter to the promising movement in the General Assembly to deregulate local schools.

If the state demands that educators be compensated at least partly on student performance, it’s only fair to give districts as much flexibility as possible to reorganize the way they operate. To that end, a mandatory start date would be an additional burden.

Tepid progress on debt

President Obama is to be commended for devoting a great deal of his State of the Union address to the burgeoning national debt. Obama pointed out that the sheer size of the problem cannot be solved by tinkering around the edges and that hard choices will be necessary—a message that, coming from him, would have been unthinkable last year.

However, the president and the major political parties have much further to go in showing they’re serious about making those hard choices.

Obama’s debt commission in December recommended using mostly spending cuts, but also some tax increases, to slash the accumulated debt to 40 percent of the economy by 2035, a huge improvement from the 185 percent we’re currently hurtling toward. But the 18-member commission fell short of the 14 approving votes that would have triggered an up-or-down vote on the recommendations in Congress.

Liberals will need to allow cuts to social programs. Conservatives will need to consider at least some tax increases. And both parties will have to get serious about cuts to military and entitlement spending. Only the most extreme experts at either end of the spectrum believe the debt can be tackled without both spending cuts and tax increases.

Unfortunately, time is wasting while they squabble.•

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

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  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

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