Indiana updates: You think your child’s summer break was short?

The Warren Township school district on the east side of Indianapolis wins the prize for the earliest start to the 2010-11 school year. Their students returned to class on Monday (Aug. 2).

Peggy Hinckley, the Warren superintendent, cites a recent Time magazine article in explaining the rationale for the short summer break. She says summer vacation can be “devastating” for low-income kids. “The article describes what we as educators know, and that is a three-month summer break is not good for children,” Hinckley tells the Indianapolis Star.

The Time cover story, titled “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” makes a powerful case for year-round school. “Children with access to high-quality experiences can exercise their minds and bodies at sleep-away camp, on family vacations, in museums and libraries and enrichment classes,” writes Time’s David Von Drehle. “Meanwhile, children without resources languish on street corners or in front of glowing screens.”

K-12 funding problems in Purdue country

An editorial in the Lafayette Journal and Courier blames Indiana’s school funding woes on state legislators and their failure to set aside partisan politics in 2009, after it had become clear that an increase in the state sales tax wouldn’t offset cuts in school property taxes.

“Suffice it to say, the shift of funding school districts’ general funds from local property taxes to state sales taxes has not gone as smoothly as promised,” the J&C says. “Political gamesmanship only aggravated the situation — and threatens to do so again when lawmakers reconvene in January.”

The editorial calls on voters to “carefully consider” whether it’s a good idea to amend property tax caps into the state constitution, and to hold political candidates accountable for their positions on taxes and government funding.

Tony Bennett: Coming soon to a venue an hour’s drive from you

The headline on a news release from the Indiana Department of Education says, “Superintendent to hold ‘Season Opener’ in community near you.” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and DOE staff will travel the state to discuss and answer questions about education issues, the release says.

The issues listed in the release are current and important: They include Indiana’s “growth model” for student assessment, teacher evaluations, A-F school grading, curriculum mapping, and teaching-education regulations. And it’s refreshing that Bennett is taking his tour to the hinterlands, with stops in mid-sized communities like Jasper, Connersville, Brazil and Columbia City.

But “a community near you” is a bit of a stretch. The closest the superintendent will come to Bloomington is a session Wednesday (Aug. 4) in Indianapolis.

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