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Official: Good, bad in Pence plan

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The president of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. teachers union sees good and bad in Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to help retiring teachers while at the same time evaluating and rewarding active teachers on their performance.

Rose Maudelin said she loves that Pence plans to fully fund teacher pensions, which would be the first time in years.

She said fully funded pensions would help assure that the state fund will not go broke as baby-boom teachers retire.

She said the part of Pence’s speech that worries her is that Pence appears to be buying into the thought process that teachers should be evaluated and rewarded on a set of criteria that measures student achievement too narrowly.

During his State of the State speech Jan. 22, Pence boasted that Indiana schools are on the right track by reporting an overall improvement in letter grades on the state’s A-F accountability scale, a system that many educators oppose.

His plan would increase funding by 1 percent for all public schools the first year, then add another 1 percent the following year for schools that meet performance targets in graduation rates, third-grade reading and overall school performance.

It also would add $6 million in teacher excellence grants through the Department of Education to hike pay for high-performing teachers.

But Maudelin said it is unfair to blame or reward teachers and schools based on tests that overemphasize the importance of standardized test results that focus on English and mathematics.

The A-F accountability scale rewards improvement from one year to the next, which Maudelin said is unfair given that this school system’s high schools performed well from the beginning and can’t easily improve.

“Treating teachers like a business doesn’t work,” she said.

Stacy Kirk, president of the the teachers union in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp., could not be reached for comment.

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