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GOP-controlled Legislature overhauls K-12 education

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This year saw the most sweeping changes to public education since the approval of teachers’ unions in 1973.

Big Republican majorities in the General Assembly allowed Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett to pass the nation’s most comprehensive package of school reforms.

But not before there were huge rallies and debates over charter schools, the rollback of teachers’ unions’ rights and publicly funded vouchers for private schools.

The reforms restricted teacher collective bargaining contracts to wages and benefits—not to length of school days or other conditions in schools.

And while state law used to stipulate that teacher pay and promotions could be based only on seniority and educational attainment, a new law now limits those factors to just 33 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. The rest of a teacher’s performance—and pay—must be based on a mix of other factors, most notably, an annual ranking of their effectiveness at getting students to learn.

Local districts have leeway to design their own evaluation systems, although the state will issue guidelines next year.

The education reforms also took steps to increase the number of charter schools in Indiana—and even let them hire unlicensed teachers, provided they make up no more than 10 percent of the faculty.

Another bill created what will be the nation’s largest voucher program, giving low-income students taxpayer-funded scholarships to use at private schools. The program has signed up nearly 4,000 students already.

Daniels created and successfully championed early college scholarships, which provide an average of $4,000 to a student who finishes high school in three years and chooses to attend an Indiana college.

Changes to the school funding formula will more quickly shift money away from the school district a student previously attended and toward the district the student currently attends. The change favors fast-growing suburban schools over shrinking urban districts.

Perhaps the biggest change in education came from the delayed implementation of a 1999 law authorizing state intervention in schools whose students scored in the lowest levels on state standardized tests five years in a row.

In August, the State Board of Education decided to take control of five schools, including four that were part of the Indianapolis Public Schools district.•
 

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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