The following is a release from the U.S. Office of the Federal Register:
Indiana is a manufacturing state. Now, there is federal assistance available to communities to support economic development strategies to expand manufacturing.
The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) is a federal initiative designed to cultivate an environment for businesses to create well-paying manufacturing jobs in regions across the country, thereby accelerating the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing. IMCP rewards communities that employ best practices to attract and expand manufacturing through planning their economic development in concert with local government, business, universities, and other stakeholders. Such efforts also build on local assets and align investments to local industry needs, such as capital, workforce education, infrastructure and research.
To date, IMCP has awarded 44 communities a total of $7 million to support the creation of economic development strategies. In the newly opened second phase, communities will be able to compete for some $1.3 billion in federal dollars, and assistance from 10 cabinet departments and agencies. In addition, communities will have access to a playbook of federal economic development resources and a new data tool for assessing their manufacturing strengths. An announcement of the competition was released in December as were a Federal Register Notice, resource playbook, and data tools. Please note that, while the announcement indicates a March 14, 2014 deadline for applications, that deadline is no longer accurate and is in the process of being revised.
You’ve heard the statistics more than once: Indiana is one of the unhealthiest states in the country. In the 2013 report “F as in FAT,” our state was ranked the eighth most obese state in the nation.
Through the Wellness Council of Indiana and our own Chamber-driven efforts to get Indiana into better shape (not only economically, but also through health and wellness efforts), we talk a lot about workplace wellness and the opportunity that employers have through encouraging healthy behaviors at work.
But, we have a bigger problem than that, and it starts much earlier than working age. Childhood obesity is an epidemic not only in Indiana, but around the world. The Wall Street Journal just reported that bariatric surgery is increasingly being used as a solution to curb life-threatening obesity in children, and even toddlers, in countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Locally, a recent article in The Indianapolis Star told the story about a 14-year-old freshman named Eric, who attends Franklin Community High School. The 510-pound boy was too large for desks and chairs at the school and was increasingly withdrawn from his classmates, many of whom teased the boy for his girth.
But one teacher pulled him aside and asked what was going on. It turned out the child had lost his father and then broken his leg, leading to surgeries and sedentary living – two crushing factors that contributed to his weight gain.
The teacher reached out to an upperclassman to begin working with the boy; his classmates and other staff members also became involved and began influencing a healthy lifestyle of walking and exercise and good nutrition.
The Star reports that the story has gained national attention, and an H.H. Gregg executive is donating a treadmill and exercise equipment to the school. Even Subway spokesman Jared Fogle (famous for dropping a serious amount of weight through eating healthy Subway sandwiches and walking) has contacted the teachers involved to speak to classes at the school. A local hospital has offered to teach Eric’s family about healthy nutrition and cooking.
While this is just one story out of many relating to childhood obesity, it is an important example of how positive, lasting change can occur – through education and support from parents, peers, schools, communities and even businesses.
By making this everyone’s responsibility and encouraging our youngest citizens to become healthy adults, we have a real opportunity to curb this growing problem.
(Above) Chamber Vice President Derek Redelman discusses the status of the state’s Common Core academic standards.
Additionally, the following is Redelman’s analysis of SB 91 (authored by Sen. Scott Schneider) on education standards:
As amended, SB 91 re-establishes guidelines for the review and adoption of state standards that is currently underway at the State Board of Education and is expected to be completed prior to July 1. It voids current state standards (Common Core) on July 1. It also eliminates restrictions on the State Board of Education in the development of a new state assessment system to be aligned with the new state standards, and requires the assessment plan developed by the State Board to be reviewed by the State Budget Committee.
Chamber Position: Neutral
Status: Amended and passed by the House Education Committee; now eligible for consideration by the full House.
Update/Chamber Action: As reported here previously, this bill does little other than allowing the standards review, currently ongoing with the State Board of Education, to continue. Yet, the continued rhetoric of Common Core opponents – suggesting for unexplained reasons that this bill somehow bans Common Core in Indiana – is likely a precursor of much more debate to come.
That debate now shifts to the draft math and English standards that were released this week and will now be the subject of public hearings, a month-long public comment period and likely more.
The Indiana Chamber is conducting a review of the draft standards and will share the results in coming days. As many people have anticipated, the draft standards contain a lot of components that are identical to Indiana’s current standards, which are the Common Core State Standards.
Opponents of the Common Core, including Sen. Schneider, have spent much of the last two weeks pronouncing that such an outcome would be an “outrage” and “unacceptable.” They’ve even spent time reviewing the credentials of those involved with the current review and have suggested that too many of these standards and curriculum experts have already shown support for Common Core.
Meanwhile, the closest that Common Core opponents have come to suggesting alternative standards has been their stated preference for Indiana’s 2009 standards, which were drafted but never adopted.
The incredible irony of that position is that Indiana’s 2009 draft standards were used as a primary model in the development of the Common Core State Standards. So if Common Core opponents continue to insist that the new standards cannot look in any way like Common Core, then it will also be impossible for the standards to look like Indiana’s 2009 standards, which Common Core opponents have touted!
But alas, this has been the nature of Indiana’s Common Core debates to date; all indications of the last two weeks suggest that those debates will continue with intensity throughout the next month. Public hearings on the draft standards will occur Monday in Sellersburg, Tuesday in Indianapolis and Wednesday in Plymouth. Online public comment will also continue through mid-March. And if all goes as planned, then the State Board of Education will be presented with new standards to adopt at its April meeting. We certainly look forward to the approach of that long-awaited conclusion – yet we know full well that there is much more still to come in these debates.
There’s no business like snow business (poor pun, I get it). But with our state and many other parts of the country continuing to suffer from Mother Nature’s wrath, K-12 schools are among those using that refrain. After all, most have to determine how to make up time lost to snow, cold, wind and other wintry elements.
In Ohio, at least some schools replaced snow days with “E-Days,” which are pre-approved times during which teachers post online assignments and are on “on call” to answer questions.
A follow-up noted that many parents enjoyed the coursework and praised the benefits of seeing their child’s schoolwork firsthand, while others complained about the time-consuming nature of the assignments. Outside observers noted the benefit of increasing parental engagement in education.
A few additional details from The Daily Standard in Celina:
Fort Recovery Superintendent Shelly Vaughn said each E-Day is considered by the state to be a full day of instruction. Because students already missed so many days of school this semester, Vaughn said it made sense to use the online tool.
E-Days are an Ohio Department of Education-approved online calamity day plan in which students access class assignments on the E-Day Portal on the school’s web site. Students have two weeks to complete the work. Districts are limited to three E-Days per school year. All district teachers submitted E-Day plans to Vaughn by Nov. 1. Knowing that inclement weather was expected, teachers last week adjusted the plans according to the content they were currently teaching, Vaughn said.
Teachers were on call during the three bad weather days to respond to emails from students and parents about the assignments. Response from parents regarding the new system was mixed. Some claimed the experience was positive and they enjoyed helping their children. Others liked discovering what their children are learning in school and added they were glad to see their youngsters’ minds active on a snow day.
Other parents, especially those with multiple children in school, expressed frustration and anger, pointing out the problem of having only one computer, assignments that were time-consuming and the need for much paper and printer ink. Not all parents are able to stay at home with their kids and some felt they were being forced to take on the duties of teachers. Some parents questioned the quality of the education their children received through the E-Day lessons, wondering if making the days up at the end of the school year would have been better for the students.
Vaughn said like anything the district attempts for the first time, school officials will reflect on the matter and learn how to make it work better next time. They intend to survey students and parents about the process, she said. “We already know of two areas we would specifically address for next time: improved communication to students and parents about how the lessons could be done virtually paperless or copies of needed papers could be provided in advance, (and) more detailed plans about modifications necessary for students on IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) to successfully complete E-Day work,” Vaughn said.
“As a full time administrator and parent of three children in the school system, I believe the E-Days are a creative way for students to utilize technology and work with their teachers in a different format,” she said. “As a principal, I looked at the E-Days the teachers set up in grades K-3 and found them to be a very educationally sound way to make up missed days of school.”
At Ready Indiana, we love high schools generating interest in STEM careers. We love education and industry working together.
Earlier this week, Indiana INTERNnet (a fellow Indiana Chamber program) hosted its annual IMPACT Awards luncheon celebrating internship excellence. Internships are crucial to workplace skills development and for bridging the gap between job seekers and employers.
All of the winners’ stories were truly inspiring, but Group Dekko’s accomplishments really stuck out to us. Group Dekko, a manufacturing company headquartered in Garrett, partnered with East Noble High School in 2013 to launch “Project Explore” – an internship program designed to expose students to the manufacturing sector and provide them with industry contacts who will mentor them through school and beyond. The program will contain three levels: an internship for students between 10th and 11th grades, an additional internship for students between 11th and 12th grades and a possible ICE internship during the senior year.
The summer of 2013 began with on-boarding curriculum that included group activities and overviews of the company. A two-week rotational period followed, allowing students to experience five departments. After that, students selected two departments that interested them most, and they spent two weeks with each of those in a paid internship position.
As a culmination of their work, the students came together and used the skills they developed to create a product that was functional and could be sold to support a charity.
The following is the final post in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1). This is authored by Patty Scheitler, whose son has benefited from Indiana’s school choice voucher program. (This blog was submitted via Hoosiers for Economic Growth.)
The School Choice Indiana voucher program has opened up many doors for my son. He is able to attend a private high school (Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis), which has already provided him with the tools to succeed. He has very high hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor one day and it would be difficult to reach these goals at the public school he was to attend.
He is now able to take advanced classes, participate in community service projects throughout the city and travel through Brebeuf’s enrichment programs. He has already grown educationally and is challenged appropriately. He has been recommended for a self study program during his sophomore year and is so very excited about it. This opportunity will enable him to qualify for summer programs focusing on medicine and will enhance his chances of being accepted.
The teachers have been amazing and are available, caring and invested in the learning of each student. They take the time to meet and get to know each student on an individual basis and really want to see the student succeed. The voucher program also allows my son to grow as a person. He is exposed to more diversity at his new school and meeting students from all over the Indianapolis area. He has made friends with kids from different backgrounds, religious beliefs and educational experiences.
The main mantra at Brebeuf is “Men and Women for Others” — this quote really explains the feeling my son has at his new school. They really allow the students to reach out to their community and serve in many ways. They feel it is important to grow each student, spiritually, emotionally, physically and educationally. I love this approach and have never experienced anything like it in the public school setting. My son is also given the opportunity to participate in many sports and extracurricular activities. His school really encourages all to participate and most clubs meet during the day instead of after school, which provides more opportunities to participate.
We are so blessed to have received the choice voucher. Every day, my son says how much he loves Brebeuf and is so lucky to be able to attend such a wonderful school!
The following is the fourth in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1). This is authored by Fred Klipsch, former chairman and CEO of Klipsch Group, Inc. — one of the nation’s top speaker companies. He is chairman of the School Choice Indiana board of directors.
I received a solid education through the public school system in Indiana from elementary schiool through college. Both Indianapolis Public Schools and Purdue University provided me with a quality education that prepared me to succeed in business and in life.
Like all things, our public education system has dramatically changed over the last few decades since I was a student, and in my opinion it is no longer delivering the quality education today’s students need to compete in a global economy. At this stage of my life, I sincerely believe that every child, regardless of zip code or income, should have the opportunity to receive the same high quality education that I had. School choice is a tool to provide quality educational options to all parents. By creating competition in the education marketplace, it clarifies the need for public school systems to improve.
Business leaders are sometimes wary of supporting school choice, specifically “vouchers,” and they should not be. Indiana’s voucher program allows low and moderate income parents access to a private school education for their children — an educational option which previously was not available to them. Now parents can choose a quality education for their child in an environment that best meets their educational needs rather than, in many cases, having that child trapped in an underperforming public school.
From a businessman’s perspective, Indiana’s voucher program caps the voucher amount at no more than 90% of public school cost, thereby producing economic savings for the state. School choice is about much more than vouchers, however, and it is about options and competition in the education marketplace. More importantly, vouchers are fulfilling the state’s obligation to provide access to a high-quality education for all children to help deliver the skilled workforce needed for our economy to thrive.
As a nation, we have built our economic success on our belief in free markets. Why, as businessmen and businesswomen, would we not believe that educational success is best achieved through a similar setting? The startling truth is that Indiana students are performing in the middle of the pack when it comes to math and science. As a nation, we are not much better when compared to our global competitors.
We must constantly be working together to improve the quality of education that our young people are receiving, as they are the future business leaders of our state and nation. Supporting policies that provide families with educational options, allow for innovation in the classroom and free our teachers from unnecessary regulations, thereby allowing them to focus on the children, are some of the key initiatives of the education improvement movement. These are examples of why I chose to become more involved in promoting school choice in Indiana — and I urge other business and civic leaders to join me.
The following is the third in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1) from some of Indiana’s leading figures in this ongoing educational effort. This is authored by Dr. Brad Oliver, associate dean of education at Indiana Wesleyan University and a member of the Indiana State Board of Education.
As our country celebrates National School Choice Week, it is important to reflect on the progress Indiana has made to create choice opportunities for Hoosier families. This year, over 20,000 children in Indiana are attending a high quality public, public charter or private school of their choosing.
Indiana’s progress has not been without challenges from those who would seek to preserve a status quo culture in schools over allowing students access to alternative choices for securing a high quality education. Preserving the status quo is not a “winning” strategy for ensuring the long-term prosperity of our students or our state.
So what should be the underlying assumptions behind Indiana’s education policies intended to result in widespread Hoosier prosperity?
Hoosier families should always have the right to decide which school best meets their child’s needs. Parents and guardians make numerous decisions with respect to a child’s welfare and development from birth to adulthood. Given the correlation between a child’s education experience and their future prosperity as an adult, education policy in Indiana must expand current choice and access to innovative, high quality systems of education.
Education innovation is crucial to prosperity and is never achieved by preserving the status quo. Perhaps the greatest outgrowth of education reforms in Indiana are the current conversations to find innovative solutions for ensuring Indiana graduates are college and career ready. Innovation is never the outgrowth of status quo education paradigms, but rather the natural byproduct of competitive excellence. As Indiana seeks to reduce the number of college students requiring freshman remediation and develops seamless transitions for high school graduates to enter high skill, high wage jobs, Indiana’s education reform policies will continue to serve as a catalyst for new, innovative solutions in education.
Participating in responsible, constructive dialogue about education is always the best avenue for serving Hoosier students. In a world dominated by social media and instant access to news and journalistic analysis of public policy, Hoosiers must agree to be intentional in finding appropriate avenues for public discourse on education. Education policy promulgated from adult-centered agendas are polarizing and unhelpful, but education policy developed from bipartisan, student-centered conversations offer the greatest potential to finding long-term education solutions that work.
Indiana’s progress to offer Hoosier families school choice, and the emerging innovative educational solutions that come from competitive excellence, are indeed reasons to celebrate in our state. We should remain resolved to not pass on status quo educational systems of learning to the next generation, but commit to the critical conversations that result in discovering new and alternative education paradigms that contribute to widespread Hoosier prosperity.
The following is the second in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1) from some of Indiana’s leading figures in this ongoing educational effort. Glenn Tebbe is the executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference.
Education of children and youth has been a significant part of the Catholic Church’s ministry in Indiana since before Indiana was even a state or a territory. In 1792 Fr. Benedict Flaget established a school in Vincennes to teach reading, writing, along with basics of the faith to the children in the area. In fact in 1801 the first Indiana territorial Governor, William Henry Harrison, asked that Fr. Rivet establish a school supported by the territorial government; He established Jefferson Academy, which is the predecessor of today’s Vincennes University.
Catholic schools have been serving people from all walks of life and all social economic groups for a long time. And, Catholic, as well as the many other non-public, schools have contributed to the well-being of the people of Indiana and the common good throughout the United States. Catholic schools’ curriculum and teachers have helped countless families and young people become productive and loyal citizens as well as providing the foundation for them academically and spiritually.
A commitment to quality education is one of the hallmarks of the Catholic Church. Moreover, a foundational principle is that parents are the first and most important teachers in a child’s life. While they are the first teachers, they cannot and do not educate and socialize them alone. The community, including faith communities, and the state share this common burden by assisting and collaborating with parents to meet their primary obligations.
Programs and policies such as education choice scholarships, scholarship tax credits and charter schools actualize the collaboration between the parents and the state’s responsibilities. The state must make possible the right of parents to choose appropriate educational opportunities best suited to their children’s needs.
Given the critical role parents and families play in the development of children and in building the common good of society, parents ought to have choices in how and where their children are educated. Legislators and state officials have a moral duty to ensure that all parents, though their own choice, have actual access to quality schools, including public, religious and private that are best suited for their children.
Just as Fr. Flaget did in 1792, the Catholic Church still today takes seriously its responsibility to assist parents in educating and nurturing their children and will continue to do so into the future. We celebrate School Choice Week because the Church has always been there to support the common good, just as it did when it responded to Governor William Henry Harrison in 1801.
The following is the first of a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1) from some of Indiana’s leading figures in this ongoing educational effort. The first is authored by Derek Redelman — the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce policy.
When National School Choice Week started in early 2011, Indiana was an emerging state in the school choice arena – but far from a leader. Ten years prior, Indiana had passed a moderately strong charter school law that, by 2001, had accommodated about 22,000 students; and a scholarship tax credit, passed in 2009, was serving a few hundred students. In total, just about 2% of the state’s entire student population was benefiting from school choice laws.
By the end of 2011, the environment had changed dramatically. Indiana had passed a voucher law that national leaders were calling the most expansive school choice program in the country. Two years later, over 20,000 Hoosier kids are receiving vouchers, and one national organization — the Center for Education Reform — now ranks Indiana No. 1 in its Parent Power Index – a state-by-state measure of parent choices.
For context, consider this: In just two years, Indiana’s voucher program reached participation levels that a decent charter school law had taken 10 years to reach. As a state, some might say that we went from “wannabe” status to the nation’s undisputed leader.
But as we reached that status in relatively short order, so might the pendulum swing the other way with equal rapidity. We needn’t look any further than the defeat of State Superintendent Tony Bennett – arguably the greatest catalyst in our recent transformation – for evidence of that potential.
And thus is demonstrated the continuing or even growing importance of events like National School Choice Week. As the Indiana Chamber will do through a series of guest blogs this week, we must remember the families and the purpose of these important efforts; and we must not withdraw from the leadership that has, in large part, been a core of the business community’s engagement.
Indiana is now THE leader in school choice. But just as we surpassed others to leap into that spot, so might we lose that status without continued effort.