Editorial Roundup: Indiana
KPC News. July 25, 2021.
Editorial: ILEARN is a failure
Like most students, Indiana apparently hasn't learned anything from ILEARN.
The only thing the annual standardized test is really good at measuring is how committed the state is to an useless, expensive, failure of an exam.
In 2021, just 28.6% of students passed both the English and math portions of the ILEARN test, the successor to the equally maligned ISTEP+ test that had equally dismal passing rates year to year.
That was a significant drop from 2019, the last time the test was administered. The drop was expected, as the impacts of COVID-19 on the end of the 2019-20 school year and the whole of the 2020-21 term were likely to have a chilling effect on performance.
But let's make no mistake, even before COVID hit, the passing rate on the test was only 37.1%.
All Indiana students in grades 3-8 as well as high school sophomores are subjected to the multi-day, hours-long testing regimen that has a history of being plagued with technical glitches as well as inane and confusing content.
No school in the four-county area has ever topped a 50% pass rate on the ILEARN test.
This year, some schools in the region had overall pass rates below 20%.
Do we really believe that the majority of students in our local school systems are that far behind what they should know at their age?
If that were truly the case, if 7-in-10 are failing ILEARN and not up to snuff academically, why then is Indiana still giving out high school diplomas to about 9-in-10 high school seniors? If our students and education system are such failures as ILEARN would suggest, high school diplomas should be as rare as bachelor's degrees in Indiana.
If 70% of students taking the written test for their driver's licenses failed, we wouldn't give licenses to 90% of those applicants.
Students are tired of taking these meaningless exams. Teachers are tired of trying to teach to the unclear and unattainable standards ILEARN is apparently trying to measure. Superintendents are tired of talking about how little stock they put into ILEARN scores as a gauge of whether their students are being properly educated.
Indiana paid $45 million over three years to implement ILEARN and the output from the test has proven to be effectively worthless.
So why is Indiana still wasting time and money on ILEARN?
Put that question on the test next year.
When all of the students get it wrong because there is no right answer to the question, don't worry - ILEARN scores can't get much lower or much more useless to educators anyway.
Anderson Herald-Bulletin. July 24, 2021.
Editorial: Rebel flag doesn't belong at fair
Earlier this week a vendor at the Madison County 4-H Fair made waves with some of his merchandise, including Confederate flags, and we see no good reason for such a flag to be on display at a 4-H fair in Indiana.
Weak arguments about 'heritage, not hate' may hold some water south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the flag has nothing to do with the heritage of the Hoosier State.
The flag commonly known as the Confederate flag or 'rebel flag' was never an official flag of the Confederate States of America. Rather, it is a variant of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. So those claiming to be hoisting the flag in the name of history may want to rethink their position.
We acknowledge the rights of American citizens to freely express themselves, no matter how strongly we may disagree, but we think the 4-H fair is an inappropriate platform for such speech.
The annual event is held to come together as a community, enjoy some summer fun and celebrate the accomplishments of our 4-H youth. No one should have to wonder whether they are welcome at our fair, and no child should see symbols of racism being endorsed at a 4-H event.
Yes, the Confederate flag is part of American history. It represents a shameful time in which some Americans took up arms against their own country to defend the despicable institution of slavery. Symbols of outdated bigotry are best preserved in museums for educational purposes. They do not belong at 4-H events.
The Kiwanis Club event coordinators did the right thing by asking that the Confederate flags be removed from display.
We urge the fair planners to carefully consider vendor applications next year to ensure that the messages on display reflect well on Beulah Park, Madison County and Madison County's 4-H program.
Columbus Republic. July 22, 2021.
Editorial: Officials stand up for locals in MSA decision
In today's world of polarized politics, most legislators refuse to reject policies proposed by their own party.
Thankfully, that isn't always the case; some lawmakers will still stand up against their contemporaries - and the president - if they feel their constituents are at serious risk.
Such was the case with the final decision on the recommendation to change the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) for U.S. cities.
Last week, the Office of Budget and Management said it will keep the minimum population needed in a community's core city to at least 50,000 residents in order to be designated as an MSA.
The decision rejected a proposal filed Jan. 19 under former Republican President Donald Trump's administration that suggested increasing the minimum population threshold for the designation to 100,000.
Had the population minimum bumped up, places like Columbus, Muncie, Terre Haute, and several other Indiana cities would've lost their MSA status; and access millions of federal dollars that go towards housing, transportation, Medicare reimbursement, and more programs.
The change in designation could've impacted funding granted to Columbus through its current status as an 'entitlement city' within Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program.
That type of change would've changed the economic landscape of the area in a bad way.
During deliberations, Columbus' congressional delegation of Rep. Greg Pence and Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun all wrote letters to the Office of Management and Budget urging them to deny the proposed changes.
Mayor Jim Lienhoop, Columbus Regional Health CEO Jim Bickel, and Greater Columbus (Indiana) Economic Development Corp. President Jason Hester also wrote letters to the national office laying out concerns.
Those voices, which represent Columbus and Bartholomew County, all appear to have been heard.
The Biden Administration made the right call in not moving the proposal forward, and our lawmakers and other local officials should be credited in helping guide that decision.