Kokomo-Center fifth-grade teacher Cheryl Simmons said data shows that of the 25 lowest-performing schools on the third-grade ISTEP test, 21 were charter schools.
Bennett said current charter school rules do not have the level of accountability needed, and the proposed legislation would create more accountability, “so the options we provide are quality options.”
He said some charter schools are doing well, and the scores Simmons referred to should be examined in terms of improvement, not just raw data.
He said charter schools would be under the same accountability rules and receive a letter grade, just like public schools.
Bennett thinks the competition will keep public schools focused on improvement.
“I think they know the state is serious about competition. If I’m going to open a charter school, I’m not going to open one near places that are doing great things with kids.”
Bennett said he does not expect to see charter school expansion in the Kokomo area. He pointed to Taylor’s New Tech high school as an example of innovative programs being implemented in the area.
“I think we will see charter schools incubate where student demand is high,” he said.
One of the tenants of charter schools is they are free from many regulations public schools face. Bennett said another casualty of the Democrats’ walkout is a bill asking for a waiver process for schools to waive some of their restrictions.
The idea of merit pay has come under fire by protesting teachers. The proposal would provide larger raises to the highest-performing students, under a new evaluation system that includes student performance data.
Kim Patterson, an Eastern High School teacher, worries it will hinder teachers’ ability to work as a team, because they are competing with one another for raises.
Bennett said the current system, in which raises are based on years of experience and degrees earned, treats teachers as second-class citizens.