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Are Indiana school districts required to do too much?

"Our day hasn't increased, our school year hasn't increased but our requirements have increased."

Posted: Aug. 9, 2018 6:24 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Reading, writing, mental & physical health, career choice, sex education, government, technology use...these are all topics required by the state of Indiana for school districts to teach before a student graduates from high school.

Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Les Huddle shares the same concern that educators across the state have been outspoken about: Schools have too much on their plate.

"They say, 'The kids need this. Okay so where are the kids? Well, they're in school everyday. Okay, so let's let the school do it.'"

Educators claim there's too much pressure on schools to teach everything, and to not just teach it all but to excel at it too.

"We have a very thick book from the state and our legislators that says 'you will teach these things,' said Huddle. "If we keep adding to that list, we are going to water down every other area."

West Lafayette Community School Corporation Superintendent Rocky Killion agrees.

"It's always been my opinion that the less the statehouse makes decisions for public education, and the more educators make the decisions for what's best for our students, community by community, the better off our children will be."

So what is too much? State Representative Sheila Klinker said the issues lie in statewide testing. She thinks children are stressed in the classroom. 

"I think there are a lot of new mandates causing questions in schools, particularly the testing," said Klinker. "The State Board wants accountability. We all agree with that, but we can't stress our children out coming to school. IREAD in 3rd grade?"

IREAD is the assessment third graders are given to measure reading standards. Klinker said she knows students and teachers are stressed. She speaks with them during third grad "Read to Succeed" at Miller Elementary. 

TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback thinks it's too much when educators don't have time to teach social skills. However, he's afraid that time may have already passed.

"There's more and more and more put on the plate of the schools and eventually something has to give if we want to teach social issues, mental health or the well being of our students," said Hanback. "The Indiana academic standards need to be covered. How they're taught in the classroom gets into the beauty of the craft of teaching."

"I think giving teachers the opportunity to have a little bit of autonomy where we can in our classrooms is vital," said East Tipp Middle School english teacher Paige Clinkenbeard. "Being able to create that 'homey' environment for the students only increases the learning process."

"Our day hasn't increased, our school year hasn't increased but our requirements have increased," said Huddle.

He suggests partnering with community experts and then connecting local families.

"I think we can be a clearinghouse, but I don't think we can be the total resource to 'catch-all.'"

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