The Monster We Created

By Danielle Guerin
This past week, I had the privilege to attend the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.  My original plan was to attend in support of HB 1423 Antibullying, but since it was last on the schedule I had the joy to listen HB 1381 be argued.
HB 1381 has to do with public transfers. A school corporation has to set the amount of transfers they will accept and the date to when they will accept them. It also says they can’t deny a transfer except for capacity. This last part, where they could not deny transfers, was pretty contentious. One after one, school principles and head of school corporations came up to talk about why they opposed it. The number one reason they gave was because it would affect their graduation rates.
These leaders of schools were worried that students, who normally didn’t do well in school or were at a low performing school, would want to transfer to their school and not graduate on time. When asked, what they meant by on time, they answered 4 years. Nowhere in our laws does it require students to graduate after 4 years, it does affect the graduation rate after that, but that’s it.
These school leaders also hit on the issue of funding. They didn’t have enough funding to give extra attention to the struggling students or hire more teachers. I think someone should tell them that funding follows the students. These are public schools, which mean taxpayers pay for them so they should be able to send their child to any school they choose.
This conversation went round and round, until one senator got up and walked away clearly frustrated at these leaders. I was frustrated too. When did graduation rates become more important than the success of our students? Why are our school leaders actively trying to keep low performing students out of high performing schools? If the environment isn’t right for them to succeed, shouldn’t we encourage them to find the right one?
The environment that has been created in education today needs to be changed. We should encourage schools to stop worrying about their rates and funding and just worry about the students and their needs. Hopefully soon, something will change but I’m not holding my breath.
I’m happy to say that HB 1381 passed the committee 10-2, with an amendment and will now go to the Senate Floor. I will follow this bill and hopefully you will, to ensure that students have a choice.