Indiana updates: Inequities in the system

Indy Star launches kindergarten series
The Indianapolis Star, which last school year followed the fortunes of students at Manual High School in Indianapolis, is taking on a reporting project at the other end of the education spectrum: observing kindergartners at IPS School #61, where students are predominantly black or Hispanic, and 90 percent of the student body lives in poverty. Reporter Robert King’s first article in the series highlighted the first obvious differences among the new students: those who could understand simple directions and those who couldn’t; those who had been raised with awareness of correct social behavior and those who hadn’t; even those who showed up on the first day with their families, and the one child who showed up alone, with teachers not even knowing his full name until three days had passed.

Dumpster diving teacher provides for her kids
How’s this for an effective way to underscore the inequities among children in different Indiana public schools? Katie Nave, a fifth-grade teacher at IPS School 63, picked up on school supplies discarded by teachers and students in the Carmel schools and hit the jackpot, reports The Indianapolis Star. She came back with enough pencils, paper and other basic supplies to outfit her whole class.
“This is my first year when I’ve been able to give every single one of my kids every supply they would need during the school year,” she told the Star.
Some Carmel Clay schools already help out their neighbors to the south with fundraisers and drives for school supplies and even clothes. After Assistant Superintendent Amy Dudley found out about Nave’s exploits, she suggested a formal supply drive be added to those cooperative efforts so that IPS kids in future won’t have to rely on a Dumpster-diving teacher for their back-to-school needs.

IBJ (mostly) hearts Bennett
The Indianapolis Business Journal gave Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett a largely ringing endorsement for his recent State of Education address, applauding his push for “hard-nosed reforms.” (Read a transcript of the speech here.) The IBJ editorial noted Bennett’s emphasis on teacher and administrator accountability and praised his proposal to grade schools on a scale of A though F. Still, the journal expressed some reservation about the use of test scores as the only measure of school effectiveness. “Students are not widgets,” it said. And it suggested Bennett take up two causes that it said can’t be achieved without money: instituting universal full-day kindergarten and decreasing class size around the state. But overall, the IBJ said Bennett is on the right track, with the most aggressive education agenda since former superintendent H. Dean Evans’s A-Plus reforms passed in 1987.

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