Written by: Danielle Guerin, AmeriCorps VISTA
“When I think about education, I feel it’s important that an individual grabs this opportunity. If not, I believe that they will not be prepared for the world around them. Education is a must in a world that is changing every day.
That is one of the most poignant quotes that came out of Real Talk Remix, a youth roundtable discussion, which was held this past October. The event was held in partnership with WFYI’s American Graduate program. 16 youth, from 5thto 12th grade, came together to talk about education and what needed to be changed.
The youth came up with their  three biggest issues in school:
  1. Structure of the education system
  2. Teacher-student communication
  3. Bullying and safety in schools

Attendees of Real Talk Remix had many suggestions for the improvement of their education experience. From concerns with student/teacher/counselor relationships, to student-student bullying issues to the overall structure of curriculum of schools, these youth believe we can do better. The youth who attended the event left with new ideas about what they could do to make their schools better. MCCOY came up with the following next steps:
•The Youth Advocacy Council will incorporate what they heard from peers into their working groups on education reform and bullying. They will advocate on these issues in the coming year through tracking legislation on the topics in the state legislature and hosting “listening sessions” for youth to voice their concerns on the issues of bullying and education reform.
MCCOY will incorporate youth feedback into our 2013 Legislative Prioritiesof education, bullying, and youth violence. Focusing on the following priorities:
  • Embrace a comprehensive evidence-based approach to prevent all forms of peer aggression, including bullying, gangs, dating violence and suicide that provide resources and training to all school personnel and that foster school environments and interactions that promote positive social skill development
  • Re-engage disconnected youth and adults in education and career-focused opportunities

•If you’d like access to the full Real Talk Remix agenda and format to host your own Real Talk, email Danielle Guerin.
To view the full report, go here

What’s Possible? How about Youth Voice in Education Reform

Contributors: John Brandon, Danielle Guerin, Anne West
This fall, 13 focus groups comprised of 146 Marion County youth from diverse backgrounds and life experiences began the difficult process of answering the questions that are vital to our community’s future: what makes a great school and what changes are necessary to have great schools in every neighborhood, for every student, in Marion County?
For one Shortridge Magnet High School student, answering the latter question was simple: “The greatest change that needs to happen is for what we suggested here today [during the focus group] to actually come true.”
The 2012 “What’s Possible?” effort led by IPS Superintendent Dr. Eugene White, Deputy Mayor of Education Jason Kloth, and community partners, (The NAACP, The Mind Trust, STAND for Children, Mayor Greg Ballard, IPS, The Indianapolis Urban League, La Plaza, United Negro College Fund, and the United Way of Central Indiana) established a precedent that the future of Marion County Schools will be informed by and accountable to community members. On October 31st MCCOY released a complementary report with additional information on the 13 youth “What’s Possible” focus groups as well as recommended next steps for youth, parents, community members, and youth workers.
Marion County youth answered the call to lend their voice to the education reform effort. Now it’s our community’s responsibility to assure that their requests are held in the highest regard, and that youth have a presence at the table for decisions still to come about education reform.  If we fail to listen to the suggestions they offered in good faith to the community-wide discussion about the future of education, we will be ignoring some of the most informed of all the players involved in the education sector.
We know that engaging youth voice and choice in their learning environments leads to positive learning outcomes and heightened engagement.  According to a 2009 study from the Indiana Department of Education, one of every three students who dropped out of Indiana schools did so because of a lack of interest. Engaging a wide range of students in conversations around school reform could invigorate students, both encouraging them to believe that school is a worthwhile place to be and that advanced education can and will support their future endeavors.
Youth in the focus groups echoed this idea, identifying that all parties—teachers, administrators, parents and especially youth—must be part of a collaborative, community wide reform effort to create great schools for every student.  They saw that every voice and every segment of the community had a role to play if we are going to have schools and an education system that supports each student’s academic and personal growth.
How do we help our community have great schools for all?
  • Read MCCOY’s report with focus group recommendations and consider your role in furthering the opportunities for youth voice in education reform efforts.
  •  Conduct your own focus groups on education with youth in your area or neighborhood
  •  Advocate strongly for our various education reform groups to seek youth representation in education reform efforts.
  • Encourage our newly elected school board to hold listening sessions with focus groups of students from a wide variety of experiences within the school system

At MCCOY, we believe that the best solutions result when all voices are respectfully listened to and all points of view are taken into account.  That is one reason we are encouraged by the “What’s Possible” effort, and we urge the whole community to find its place at the table as solutions are proposed to make all our schools truly great places that value learning and all the students who pursue it.
Click here for an electronic copy of MCCOY’s “Your Great School: ‘What’s Possible’ Focus Groups for Marion County Youth” Report, or for a full transcript of youth focus group recommendations, email John Brandon at [email protected].

Interim Session Study Committee Findings & Recommendations

Written by: Mindi Goodpaster – Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, MCCOY, Inc.

The Interim Study Committees, with the exception of the Department of Child Services Study Committee, have concluded their meetings and have put forth recommendations based on the issues that they were researching.  The following is a summary of select committees that MCCOY was following.  To see a complete list of the study committees, please click here.

Committee on Child Care

The Committee on Child Care made the following recommendations:

  • PD 3401- Formal recognition of the Ministries Advisory Group.
  • PD 3402- Changes definition of “Child Care Ministry” and gives child care ministries one year to comply with definition.
  • PD 3403- Specifies requirements that must be met by a child care provider as a condition of eligibility to receive a CCDF voucher payment.
  • PD 3406- Requires a child care provider to use a curriculum approved by the Division of Family Resources as a condition of eligibility for CCDF voucher payments. (must follow the Indiana Department of Education’s early learning standards)
  • PD 3407- Specifies health and safety requirements for registration of a child care ministry, including care giver qualifications.
  • PD 3419- Requires caregivers at certain child care providers to undergo a national criminal history background check.
  • PD 3423- Specifies requirements that must be met by a child care provider as a condition of eligibility to receive a CCDF voucher payment.
  • PD 3428- Specifies requirements that must be met by a child care provider as a condition of eligibility to receive a CCDF voucher payment, including discipline process and background checks.

The Committee also endorsed the concept of legislation that provides tax credits to families that use child care providers that are certified by Paths to Quality and to child care providers that make improvements to their child care programs and facilities to advance through the Paths to Quality certification levels.

Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee

The Committee met on November 8 to discuss possible recommendations based on the various issues that came to light during the late summer/early fall meetings.  The main topics being considered are changes to the centralized hotline, provider services and payments, best practices and the creation of a Commission on Children.  The final meeting of the committee will be held on November 27 at 10 a.m. at which time their final report and recommendations will be voted on.

Select Commission on Education

The Legislative Council directed the Commission to study the following topics:

1.    The feasibility of establishing a process by which residents of a part of an existing school corporation may elect to disannex from an existing school corporation and either annex to another existing school corporation or establish a new school corporation (HEA 1047).
2.    The process of adoption and content of rules adopted by the Indiana state board of education concerning categories or designations of school improvement including the matrices used for the A-F designations (HEA 1376).
3.    Proposed rules, adopted rules, and policies of the department of education and the Indiana state board of education to implement the provisions of P.L.90-2011, concerning teacher evaluations and licensing (HEA 1376).
4.    More clearly defining what is included in instructional spending by school corporations and what is included in noninstructional spending by school corporations for purposes of the law concerning reporting of expenditures allocated to school instruction (IC 20-42.5-3-5) (HEA 1072, SB 344, SR 7).
5.    The current oversight structure applicable to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and make recommendations for any changes in the current structure that the committee determines should be considered (SC 19).
6.    Public schools ‘cherry-picking’ students (the selection of certain students and rejection of others) (Representatives Karickhoff and Mahan).

In addition, the Commission studied turnaround academies and graduation waivers, and received testimony concerning Stand for Children and Teach for America. The Commission made no recommendations.

Voices of Indiana teachers are heard loud and clear

Written by: Brandon Smith – MCCOY Board Member
This week in the general election, Glenda Ritz won a surprising victory over incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett. This came as a huge surprise given the differences in fundraising support between the two candidates. Tony Bennett was a high profile incumbent due to the extensive measures he has passed on education reform with backers across the nation, including New York Governor, Michael Bloomberg. Glenda Ritz ran a grassroots campaign that was funded almost exclusively by the Indiana State Teacher’s Association and Indiana Federation of Teachers. 

I won’t pretend to be an expert on education reform, or advocate for either candidate, but what I think most people can appreciate is this: our teachers play an extremely vital role in our society. They hold the future in their hands as they mold and shape young minds. Our children need strong teachers; teachers that can instill a love and ambition to become a lifelong learner, and give kids the ability to succeed. 
Being married to a teacher, I am constantly reminded of the difficulties our teachers face in the classroom: surging class sizes, students with individualized education programs that aren’t receiving the level of support and attention they need to succeed, ceilings on benefits and wage freezes, and evaluation tactics for students and teachers that lack the correct incentives. 
When our teachers speak out, we should listen. What we saw in this election was a candidate that drummed up enough support, almost exclusively through word of mouth driven by the teachers in our state, to win. What that tells me is that our teachers have something to say about what is going on in their classrooms and what is needed to help our kids receive an education that puts them on a path to success. No matter which side of the table you are on, here’s to hoping that we find a way to incorporate an education system that empowers and invigorates our teachers.


MCCOY’s Own Your Future public awareness campaign is a tool that teachers can use to tell their students about educational support systems accessible outside of the classroom. Visit, www.ownyours.org to learn more.

Go VOTE – It DOES matter!

Written by: Vicki Zeller, MCCOY Board Member
I understand how it is easy to become jaded during the election season.  I admit to moments I refer to as “election rage”.  This is the overwhelming desire to hurl the closest object at my TV as the barrage of negative ads appears on the screen.  It causes me to frantically search for the remote in a desperate attempt to change the channel before the ad can emit five words.  All the while pleading with the candidates to stop telling me what is terrible about their opponent and please, please just tell me their plan and vision.
In 2008 only 64% of eligible voters turned out to vote.  OK.  Let’s be honest.  Your individual vote will most likely not change your state from red to blue or blue to red.  However, many local elections are decided by a room full of people. Your elected officials will be voting on legislation that impacts your community and your children.  Not sure what the recent legislation is? That’s where MCCOY can help.  Go to http://www.mccoyouth.org/images/stories/2012_Voting_Record_for_State_Legislators_FINAL_on-line.pdfto see what legislature was voted on in the last year and how your officials voted.  It really is that easy.  When you are done looking at all the user friendly info MCCOY has compiled and you’ve made your decision…..GO VOTE.  It does matter.