Who Is In Charge

Momentum builds for career and technical diploma

PHOTO: Alan Petersime

A bill to create a new career and technical diploma won unanimous support in the Indiana House today, despite concerns from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce that the state does not need a fifth diploma type.

House Bill 1213, authored by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Mount Vernon, would direct the Indiana Career Council to name a committee to design the new diploma, including what courses are required. It passed the House 92-0.

McNamara, who is director of Evansville’s Early College High School, argued that the state’s primary diploma, known as the Core 40, has discouraged students from participating in career and technical programs and caused schools to offer fewer of those options.

“We all know that when kids do what they love they are going to shine,” she said. “Having a diploma in classes in which kids can learn English and math skills in the context of doing what they love only means good things for the state of Indiana.”

Indiana has four diploma types — general, Core 40, honors and career and technical honors — and has encouraged students to aim for at least the Core 40. Because that diploma requires more courses, and more challenging courses, some advocates for career and technical education believes students may shy away from career and technical courses to concentrate on meeting their Core 40 requirements.

But Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said his organization opposes the bill.

“We strongly support the general goals that have been laid out in this bill,” he said last week when the House Education Committee heard testimony. “But rather than creating another diploma that might confuse the situation, we’d rather figure out a way to address the diplomas we have.”

The state does offer a career and technical honors diploma, but to earn that credential students must first complete the Core 40 diploma and then add extra classes or academic achievements like a high SAT score.

McNamara argues that some of the advanced courses in the Core 40 might not be needed by students who are aiming for good jobs in careers that do not require college degrees. Her hope, she said, was that a separate career technical diploma would still be demanding but that the coursework could be tailored to skills those students need.

The bill drew praise from Democrats, including Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes. Battles, a teacher, said it was one of the best bills the legislature had seen in years. Battles framed the idea as a step back from a Republican-led push for ever higher standards in recent years, saying the push often fails to consider the needs of all students.

“We get so caught up with rigor,” he said. “That has become a buzzword. We have forgotten about relevance. Rigor is only good if it is relevant.”

Battles said the bill was needed to revive career and technical education.

“Our technical and career programs are being destroyed and it isn’t because we don’t have kids who are interested,” he said. “They don’t have room in their schedules.”

Indiana has moved in recent years to require students to complete the Core 40 diploma. In order to opt for a general diploma, students must demonstrate that they are following an alternative graduation plan that meets all the state’s requirements in basic subjects.

A 2012 study by IUPUI, however found even a Core 40 may not be enough to guarantee a student succeeds in college. Marion County graduates in the study significantly increased their chances of going to, and graduating, from college if they completed the honors diploma. There was little difference in college attainment and completion for students who earned a Core 40 vs. a general diploma.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which will begin considering House bills next week.

General Diploma
English/language arts: 8 credits (Includes literature, composition and speech)
Mathematics: 4 credits (Includes Algebra 1 or integrated mathematics)
Science: 4 credits  (Includes Biology 1 and at least one credit in physical science or earth and space science)
Social studies: 4 credits (Includes U.S. History and U.S. Government)
Physical education: 2 credits
Health and wellness: 1 credit
College and career pathway courses*: 6 credits
Flex credits**: 5 credits
Electives: 6 credits
Total credits: 40*Must select electives with a deliberate purpose to prepare for college or work.
**Courses in college or career readiness, co-op or internships, college dual credits or additional courses in core subjects.

Core 40 Diploma
English/language arts: 8 credits (Includes literature, composition and speech)
Mathematics: 6 credits (Includes Algebra 1, geometry and Algebra 2)
Science: 6 credits (Includes Biology 1 and Chemistry 1, Physics 1 or an integrated chemistry and physics course)
Social studies: 6 credits (Includes U.S. History, U.S. Government, Economics and World History or Geography)
Physical education: 2 credits
Health and wellness: 1 credit
Directed electives: 5 credits (Includes world languages, fine arts and career or technical education)
Electives: 6 credits
Total credits: 40

Technical Honors Diploma

Must complete all the Core 40 requirements plus:
– At least at least 6 additional credits in college or career preparation courses
– A grade of C or better in all courses that count toward the diploma
– A GPA that averages at least a B
– At least two Advanced Placement/dual credit college courses, or a score of 530 on each part of the SAT, or an ACT score of 26 or higher or 4 credits of International Baccalaureate courses.
Total credits: 47

Academic Honors Diploma
Must complete all the Core 40 requirements plus:

– At least 2 additional math credits
– At least 6 to 8 credits in world languages
– At least 2 credits in fine arts
– A grade of C or better in all courses that count toward the diploma
– A GPA that averages at least a B
– At least two Advanced Placement/dual credit college courses, or a score of 530 on each part of the SAT or an ACT score of 26 or higher, or 4 credits of International Baccalaureate courses, or a earn a minimum score on special state math, reading and writing skill tests.
Total Credits: 47

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.