News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

September 15, 2013

EDITORIAL: Real test for education will be in lessons learned

Forget vindication, focus on students

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana can emerge wiser from the uproar surrounding its A-to-F school rating system. Improvement can come through lessons learned.

A report issued last Friday assessed controversial changes to the system made last fall by former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and his Department of Education staff. The review, ordered by Republican leaders of the Indiana Legislature, was conducted by a bipartisan duo of John Grew and Bill Sheldrake — veterans of past Democratic and Republican administrations. It serves as an explanation of how Bennett and his team responded to an initially low grade for an Indianapolis charter school hailed by Bennett as a model for success.

The reviewers concluded that switching of the school grade for Christel House Academy from a C to an A triggered a systemwide change that was applied evenly to all schools. They saw Bennett’s urgent push to raise the Christel House grade — bogged down by low algebra test scores — as a “plausible” maneuver to “save the credibility of the new accountability model and a desire to treat a recognized good school fairly.”

Bennett and his supporters viewed that conclusion as vindication from critics. That vindication indeed may be appropriate, in terms of his application of the changes made to the ratings system just before the A-to-F scores were released. However, much of the criticism of the grade changing — revealed through emails obtained by The Associated Press — centered on the potential influence of the Christel House founder, a prominent donor to the political campaigns of Bennett and other Indiana Republicans. The Grew-Sheldrake report did not delve into that concern, but stuck to the fairness of the method used to apply the changes.

“Any further motivations underlying these actions are beyond the scope and documentation of this report,” they wrote.

The various sides in the school-reform debate have drawn their own conclusions. Bennett said, “I am pleased with this vindication, not for me, but for the work of my colleagues at the Department of Education and for the 1.1 million Indiana students that have benefited and will continue to benefit from a clear and rigorous school accountability system.” Grew and Sheldrake said their report neither exonerates, nor condemns Bennett (who resigned this summer as Florida schools commissioner amid the controversy) but explains how the changes were made.

Their report recommends more changes be made — to the system itself.

An overhaul of the A-to-F school ratings, initiated by the Legislature, was already under way before the grade-changing flap. The Grew-Sheldrake recommendations stand as quality-control standards for that overhaul. One meaningful criticism of reforms enacted under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Bennett was that landmark changes kept coming so fast the dust never settled, and the effectiveness and impact of one policy could not fully be gauged before the next wave of changes hit. Grew-Sheldrake cited the need to slow down and evaluate the implementation of a new school ratings system.

The reworked formula should be transparent, easier to understand, they said. The existing formula rightly drew complaints over its complexity. Grew and Sheldrake also recommended “extensive” input from “experts and practitioners from the education community,” which would include folks who actually work in classrooms. The plan must be acceptable to average Hoosiers. The new ratings formula should be tested as a pilot program for a year, allowing schools to provide feedback, so appropriate adjustments can be made. And, finally, the Legislature, governor and state schools superintendent, now Glenda Ritz, need “closer interaction,” the report stated.

Each idea reflects a lesson learned, perceived vindication aside.

Ideally, the real victors in this episode will be Hoosier children and their families, whose schools will operate under a well-vetted, comprehensible accountability system.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • EDITORIAL: Greater course loads can mean quicker degrees

    The impact of Indiana’s low education attainment level shows up in Hoosiers’ paychecks.
    The state ranks 40th in the U.S. in the percentage of residents with college diplomas.

    July 30, 2014

  • Editorial: Community support crucial for workers facing layoffs

    The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.

    July 26, 2014

  • Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on

    The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.

    July 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in

    Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.

    July 22, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy

    It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.

    July 20, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Continuing the standard

    U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored

    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

    July 13, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency

    A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.

    July 12, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
    In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.

    July 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need

    If you agree that not much is sadder — and potentially more unsettling to our society — than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

    June 28, 2014

  • Editorial: A center for the future

    The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.

    June 26, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County

    Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.

    June 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Getting smart about fighting crime

    When those “CSI” TV shows began to burst on the scene in 2000, viewers were mesmerized by the flashy scientific and technological methods police labs were using to build cases against criminals.

    June 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Forging ahead

    Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.

    June 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker

    Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.

    June 18, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A woman in the House

    The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.

    June 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative

    Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success

    It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

    June 12, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA

    How America cares for its veterans is indicative of its values as a nation. We’re confident the vast majority of citizens agree that health care for military vets through the country’s network of VA hospitals should meet or exceed common-sense expectations.

    June 11, 2014

  • Editorial: Playing the Nazi card

    There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Cleaner environment will help boost city’s image

    In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.

    June 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when Allied Forces led by the United States military invaded France on the beaches at Normandy. It was the crucial turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany. To observe this somber anniversary, we have given this page’s editorial space the past three days to the columns written by Ernie Pyle in the invasion’s aftermath. Pyle filed three columns about D-Day that were circulated widely in American newspapers beginning June 12, 1944. The first appeared Wednesday. The second appeared Thursday. This is the final column.

    June 5, 2014 2 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
    It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.

    June 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.

    June 3, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention

    When the facts, figures, commentary and analysis about the devastating impact of rape in our society have been consumed, the daunting, even haunting, question is: What can we do to stop it?

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Harding Love Letters Now Open to Public Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity