ISTA MEMBERSHIP PAYS OFF THE EVOLUTION OF STATE TAKEOVER LEGISLATION—2012 

HISTORY: In 1999, Indiana’s Standards and Accountability laws of 1999 allowed for “special management teams” to be “assigned” to schools that had been in the lowest category for 5 consecutive years.  The DOE and the SBE seized control of this provision and in May of 2011, a brief framework of laws was inserted into the budget bill to enable the SBE/DOE to authorize private companies to take over the operation of these schools and to, in essence, become these special management teams referenced in the 1999 accountability law.

In November of 2011, the SBE made public a set of proposed rules that it intended to pursue that would greatly expand its unilateral takeover authority.  Then, in January 2012, in what can only be described as “putting its cart before its horse” (because legally, the legislature give agencies rule-making authority and not the other way around), the SBE then sought the introduction of HB 1324 to mirror its proposed rules and to, in effect, legitimize what it was proposing.

Beginning with HB 1324, the DOE and SBE attempted to expand in many ways their unilateral takeover authority.  And during the session, the SBE proceeded with the adoption of the A-F school and school district grading policy that virtually no K-12 group had supported or thought fairly represented the work of Indiana’s public schools. Through the course of the 2012 session, as HB 1324 died in the House, an amended version of HB 1324 landed in SB 384—again in the House, and ultimately, HB 1376, in a conference committee report,  included a barebones set of takeover provisions together with a new oversight commission that is both unprecedented and noteworthy.

At the end of the day, with ISTA leading the movement (but certainly not alone) and because serious questions had begun to emerge, the General Assembly, in a bi-partisan fashion, elected to re-insert itself into the school reform discussion (not only with regard to takeover, but also with regard to teacher licensure and teacher evaluations) by creating the SELECT COMMISSION ON EDUCATION. 

This COMMISSION will be comprised entirely of the legislative members of both the House & Senate Education Committees and it has pledged to take the time necessary to review, discuss, and report on at least the A-F School Grading Policy that triggers takeover, teacher evaluations proposed and adopted rules and policies, and teacher licensure proposed and adopted rules and policies. 

This is not about teachers and K-12 not wanting accountability.  This is not about teachers and K-12 believing that the schools that teach children who face consistent learning challenges would not benefit by interventional activities.  This is not about simply leveling criticisms. This is about focusing in on the quality, the type, the length, and the motivation behind the interventions.  This is about ensuring that those who are most directly accountable to parents and taxpayers (the legislature) and those who are most directly accountable to students and parents (teachers and school employees) have an opportunity to connect and discuss in meaningful ways how best to serve Indiana’s children. 

ISTA believes that the SELECT COMMISSION will provide teachers and other K-12 constituent groups the fair forum for meaningful discussion and input on all of the reform measures.  In a very real sense, the work is just beginning.

The following chart gives you a brief glimpse into the evolution of state takeover legislation during this session.

And continued thanks for all that you do for Indiana’s children. 

Bill No.

DOE/SBE PROPOSAL

RESULT—HB 1376

1324

Expanded the takeover laws to apply to schools in the bottom 2 categories (as opposed to the lowest category)

Did not pass.

Accelerated the takeover to after the 3rd year.

Did not pass.

Inserted a “parent trigger” to enable a probably minority of parents to petition for a takeover after 2 years in the bottom 2 categories.

Did not pass.

The takeover schools would become “independent schools” governed initially by mayors, town managers, or county commissioners and would operate as its own entity (like a charter school)—never to return to the community school district.

Did not pass and, in fact, requires at least 2 public hearings to occur each year between the local school district and the private company to discuss best practices for student learning.

Provided the same provisions for the takeover of entire school districts and set up a new independent governance board for these districts with members appointed by the state board of education.

Did not pass.

1324 

384

Employment of individual teachers is not required under the state uniform contract.

Did not pass.

Employment of licensed teachers not required.

Did not pass and, in fact, requires teachers to be licensed.

Teacher bargaining rights prohibited.

Teachers permitted to bargain.

School districts prohibited from taking any action that the SBE designates as “adverse” to the takeover school and gives the SBE ability to withhold funds from the school district as punishment.

Did not pass.

Did not secure TRF and PERF participation for employees and instead enabled the private company to provide something else in terms of retirement.

Did not pass and, in fact, specifically provides that teachers participate in TRF and other employees have PERF.

Required health care to be what the private company offered or the state plan.

Did not pass.

Specifically authorized the private company to attract students from all across the state to this school (like a charter school).

Did not pass.

Specifically prohibited the school district from changing the assignment of students to schools.

Did not pass.

Gave the SBE sole authority to resolve disputes between the private company and the school district.

Did not pass.

Specifically put all outstanding debt obligations associated with the takeover school building on the backs of the local taxpayers and the school district.

Did not pass and, in fact, requires at least 2 public hearings to occur each year between the local school district and the private company to discuss facility usage.

Specifically gave the SBE the authority to grant to the private company and takeover school any authority.

Did not pass.