Friday, February 4, 2011

Superintendent's Stand on Waivers Sounds Hypocritical

It's hard to believe, but this ice storm has turned out to become a controversial political snowball as many of the state's school districts across the state struggle to chisel their buildings out of the ice. With many schools missing several days, they are exceeding their built-in snow day allowance. In the old days, you could apply for a waiver so that those days beyond the scheduled allotment didn't have to be made up.

At issue today is the decision by the Indiana Department of Education to essentially end the waiver program that had developed over many years and that demands that schools meet their statutorily-required 180 days of instruction come heck water. The mechanism still exists, but the DOE has chiseled a line in the tundra that waivers will no longer be granted.

For his part, State School Superintendent Tony Bennett has been ice cold consistent with his rhetoric. He says that schools shouldn't bother to request waivers as they will not be granted.

Incidentally, when he was Superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools, Dr. Bennett requested a waiver to not have to make up five days of school due to weather issues, but that was before he met politics. Seems to me, what was good for Clark County Superintendent Bennett should be good for State Schools Superintendent Bennett.

A larger question hangs in the air like an ice block from the Artsgarden: What would trigger a waiver situation? Let's say a school is hit by a tornado during summer when no one is there. The damage is so severe that the school can't open for a month or two, and there is no reasonable place to put the students nearby. Is that waiver-worthy or will those students have to go two months longer than everyone else? It's just a thought for the debate.

I can't remember the last time IPS or any of the other Marion County districts were out this many days in a row, and the forecast certainly doesn't look promising that the ice will melt anytime soon.

If the waivers will not be granted, then Superintendent Bennett must begin the process to take that away from schools as well. Why have a policy if it's not going to be used? Why leave that mechanism if the facts of each case aren't going to be looked at?

Whatever is decided is fine with me, but I do get why school districts across the state are scratching their heads at Bennett's doggedness on this issue given his own utilization of waivers when he was a district superintendent. The policy doesn't exist to screw kids out of an education, but I think that's what Bennett wants everyone to that he holds statewide office, that is.


Anonymous said...

Let me let you in on a secret. At the high school level which is what I am familiar, make up days are a waste. WHY? The students don't come!!!! Our students are not dumb. They know that by make up days that the finals have been given, the grades and final attendance figures have been enter into the data base, books collected, libraries and computers closed and prepared for summer vacation and nothing can happen.

indyernie said...

Jon, I’m going to tell you what I tell my daughter who also is a teacher.
1.You went to school and chose to teach, for that you have my respect.
2.Kids and their education come first, period.
3.Quit acting like a kid and stop preaching the Union's talking point because other than other teachers no one is lessening.
4.Teaching is a great job, enjoy it.
The weather affects all of us. Some of us can’t make up the days that we lost revenue due to snow but our kids can make up the lost instruction. Not allowing for the extra days is detrimental to the development of our children.
Bennett is doing what he was elected to do.

Anonymous said...

The better question might be why wouldn't the snow days be made up? Taxpayers paid for 180 days of educational services, that's what should be provided.

Jon E. Easter said...

Indyernie...I reiterate. I don't care what's decided. I show up ready to go when we are in session. My only point is that Bennett has been someone in the past that has requested waivers as a Superintendent. That makes his current stand hypocritical. If no one is listening, then why was this a whole segment on WTHR's 5:00 p.m. newscast? They did a whole package on it...complete with an interview from Dr. Bennett.

I also reiterate that I am NOT a member of the ISTA.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I'm a big fan of Tony Bennett, but assuming what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it), then you have a valid point that Bennett is being a bit hypocritical.

Nevertheless, I don't buy tha longer school years produce better students. I am far more worried about the quality than the quantity of educatino..

indyernie said...

Jon we have all done things that weren’t right. Assuming we have learned from those choices do we continue to repeat them?
As a child I shit my pants, so did you and Tony Bennett. Now I don’t and I’m pretty sure neither do you or Tony. Are we all three hypocrites?

Anonymous said...

As usual, IndyErnie, your comment made no sense. In addition, I have no idea whether you still shit your pants or not.

Anonymous said...

I agree. High school students do not come om make up days. They jnow tbey are a charade for the politicians and those in the public who are easily
fooled. Many times not one student would show up for a mame up day.