I have absolutely no idea why anyone would think Indiana needs a bill like SB 500, but State Senator Pete Miller (R-Avon) evidently thinks accountability is a communist plot–and civics a “frill.” He says his bill will “return local control.” The nonpartisan Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY) says what it will really do is remove accountability from Hoosier schools. A few of the (many) things this bill provides:
- It makes accreditation of schools voluntary and removes requirements for school improvement plans, including schools that have been designated as needing improvement.
- It removes any reporting of demographics of students or any reporting of suspensions or expulsions, including the reasons for the suspension or expulsion.
- It establishes a “school data board” that will review all data collection requirements with the aim to “combine, streamline, or eliminate” data reporting by schools. No information will be able to be mandated for school data collection unless it goes through this cozy little committee first.
- It removes school safety reporting requirements including suspensions and expulsions for alcohol, weapons and drugs.
The measure also removes a number of regulations related to student safety, bullying and mental health awareness. SB 500 entirely removes the current rule against cyber-bullying using a school’s computer, computer system or computer network.
What I find particularly outrageous at a time when Indiana ranks in the bottom tier of states in civic literacy and voter turnout, the bill also removes the requirement that instruction be provided in both public and nonpublic schools on the United States Constitution or the Indiana Constitution.
There’s much, much more. The bill eliminates parents’ ability to review instructional materials, and takes away a variety of other rights that parents have come to expect. But the major thrust of the bill is to stop making data on the schools’ academic and safety performance available. As MCCOY notes,
Schools are required to compile and report certain types of data, particularly related to safety and discipline not only to protect students and inform parents and the public about how safe a school is, but also to ensure that they are providing high-quality education to all of their students and that certain students are not being left behind or excluded.
If they don’t have to report, parents and taxpayers will have no way of knowing how the schools are performing. I assume that’s the point. The GOP is constantly hyping school “choice,” but evidently they don’t want parents to have access to data that might actually inform that choice.
To view the bill in its entirety, visit: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/500#document-f7a3b2a7