Kendall Education Plan
Public Education in Indiana as in most states takes up just over half of the State’s tax and income revenue. Most taxpayers in Indiana are happy to put their taxes toward our children and consider Public Education an investment not only in Indiana, but in the future of our state, our communities, and our children. In 2004, when then Indiana Mitch Daniels took office, he set out to change Public Education from one that was the anchor of every city, town and small rural community in the state to a corporate controlled training program where each student became a commodity that generated money for people who were determined to profit with untested educational policy. Private School Vouchers, charter schools, merit pay for teachers, along with virtual charter schools and poorly trained “teachers” provided by Teach for America or Teach Plus have wreaked havoc on our Public Schools since the Mitch Daniels era and now the bill has come due. Indiana has some of the lowest Teacher salaries in the nation and ranks last in pay raises. Teacher Education programs have been cut and enrollment in our revered Teacher colleges such as Ball State University and Indiana State University to name a few, have plummeted. Indiana faces a teacher shortage, Education funding that is shorted nearly a billion dollars, while the State Legislature continues to take 100s of millions each year from that shorted fund to hand out to Private schools and Charter schools that have no accountability, no requirement to report data, and have discriminatory policies toward student enrollment and teachers. The current leadership in the Indiana General Assembly decided the best way to deal with our Public Education system is to refuse to raise pay for Teachers, give more funds away to Vouchers and Charters, refuse to hold non-public schools accountable for the money they use and end the over 100-year policy of direct election of our State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
As a Public School Educator of over 32, I have created a plan that can be implemented to not only address the issue of funding shortfall, but increasing Teacher pay and retention of current Educators while bringing new educators into Indiana to address and ease the shortage. These are the six points of my plan:
Increase Teacher Pay
Teacher pay in Indiana lags behind the entire US and has been stuck at 2009 levels of pay resulting in a current teacher shortage in schools and a dramatic drop in enrollment in Teacher Education programs at State and Private universities in Indiana. Pay must be increased to head off this looming crisis.
a. Eliminate pay to non-public school programs that do not adhere to state mandated accountability in use of funds and the collection of data. The additional funds, which could result in up to 200 million per year can be applied to pay.
b. Change our standardized testing to a formative testing program that has much fewer cost factors creating an additional $100 million or more per year to add to teacher pay.
c. Create incentives for school corporations to re-establish the “pay ladder,” where pay increased are incremental based on years, education, and evaluations to retain teachers.
Eliminate standardized testing and replace with formative tests teachers can use to actually help their students learn.
a. Utilize a formative test that is responsive to students and teachers that allow immediate results as to the student’s progress. This eliminates the millions spent on “standardized test prep” that takes a large amount of funds and instructional time in the classroom.
b. Allow teachers to collect data on growth of student learning from the classroom for documentation that benefits the student, the school and allows the school to meet state and federal reporting requirements. This step will eliminate the costly and long process of having outside vendors grade and review tests and then provide data.
Utilize incentives to attract and retain new and existing teachers
a. Create a permanent version of the current teacher scholarship that pays partial tuition and expand the program to a forgiveness of student loans after 5 years of teaching in a Public School.
b. Increase pay for advanced degrees.
c. Allow tax cuts for teacher’s out-of-pocket expenses for the classroom.
d. Allow all Public-school corporations to participate in the State of Indiana Employee Health insurance program so that teachers can have the security of knowing they will have insurance that is dependable and will not affect their pay. Rural schools will benefit from being able to compete with larger schools for teachers because of lower health insurance costs.
Create a new Teacher Residency program that allows recent Masters degree graduates to serve a one-year residency in public school systems across Indiana.
a. Establish or reestablish a Master’s Teaching Degree that puts graduate students in the classroom for a one year paid residency in a public school classroom with a supervising/mentor teacher. Many states offer a Teacher Education program of 5 years that includes the undergraduate and graduate program that ends with the residency. These programs attract and retain excellent teachers, benefits the schools and students, and puts Indiana back into the forefront of Educational practices.
Expand family support, wellness programming other wrap around services in the local schools.
a. Establish a program for bringing in wrap-around services as part of the local school. Schools could host outside companies that would provide child care, health care clinics, mental health care and counseling as well as GED classes, enrichment classes in Art, Music or teaching new job skills for under employed or unemployed community members.
b. Empower the Community to utilize the Public school to be a place of community efforts to take advantage of government and non-governmental services for the benefit of all.
Establish accountability measures for Charter and Private schools.
a. Public funds taken from the General Education fund for non-public schools amounts to hundreds of millions each school year. All these non-public schools do not have to meet the same accountability standards as our local Public schools. Many have Boards that oversee the money and function of the schools, but their meetings are private, no public input is allowed as to who serves on the board or how money is used. This “hands off” policy has resulted in a Private school in Fort Wayne using state tax money to build a new steeple on a church, two Indianapolis Schools firing multiple teachers and other staff for their same-sex marriage, admitting students based on race, expelling students for having same-sex parents and the $86 million paid to a virtual charter school that committed fraud by charging the state for students that were never enrolled in their school. This is not just a few incidents, but some of the many practices that waste precious tax dollars that are needed by our public schools.
b. Stop funding the non-public school systems that refuse these measures.
c. Requiring all teachers to have the same credentials as Public-School teachers.
d. Require all non-public schools to adhere to the same safety policies as public schools, such as having criminal history background checks, and verifying educational background.
This Education Plan can be implemented with an increase in present funds, although our Public Schools have been operating in a deficit since 2007. These are not radical changes, but changes that will make our system work for students, families, and teachers. Indiana must make a change, and it has to happen now. Our public schools are stressed financially, the students and families live in a constant state of uncertainty, and we are losing teachers rapidly.
This plan was created from my decades of experience in the classroom, deep concern and love for my students and their families along with pride in the reputation of Public Education in Indiana. All that I do for Education can be summed up from this quote by Thomas Jefferson, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people . . . They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”