|Bad News from the Statehouse
Last week, during a summer study committee, several legislators from the House and Senate Education Committees looked at the results of the ILEARN statewide student assessment. (ILEARN replaced the ISTEP test.) Legislators may want to give ILEARN a better name after this.
According to the test administered in the Spring, only 28.6% percent of Indiana’s public-school students received a passing grade in English and math. This is down nearly ten points from two years ago when 37% of Indiana students scored proficient in both math and English. None of the grade levels tested in grades 3 through 8 had a majority of students passing these two essential subjects.
The news was even worse for African American students. Only 17% in grades 3 through 8 passed the English test. Only 12% passed the math test. In 2019 24.7% of Indiana’s black students passed the English test and 22.5% passed the math test.
Virtual learning due to Covid can take some of the blame for the declines, but not all. Almost half of Indiana schools had more than 90% of students in schools for in-person learning all year in 2020-2021 and almost 80% of schools in the state had more than 60% of students in-person all year. Only 5% of schools in the state had more than 50% of students who were learning virtually all year.
There is a bigger problem here than Covid. For years, only 37% of Indiana’s students have passed the national NAEP test in English, math, and science. (This is about the same as the national average for NAEP.)
Many legislators from both parties were upset by these results. They asked the Superintendent of Public Instruction what our schools have been spending their time teaching. This is the same question a lot of parents have been asking school boards concerning critical race theory and social and emotional learning programs.
In defense of schoolteachers, for years legislators, social service advocates, and other education special interest groups have pushed things upon teachers that have little do with reading or writing as a means of fixing social issues from the breakdown of the family. Many teachers may feel like adequate time for the fundamentals of education has been crowded out with a host of other requirements and expectations placed upon them.
Speaking of Education
In 1973, only about 13,000 children in the United States were educated at home. As of March of 2021, about 5 million children, or roughly 8% of students, are home-educated. In 2019, a report from the US Department of Education found that 41% of home-school students were Black, Asian, Hispanic, or non-White/non-Hispanic.
Home-schooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.
A True Hoosier Statesman
On Friday, Republican State Senator Dennis Kruse (Auburn) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2022.
When I was just out of college in 1990, I did an internship in the Indiana House of Representatives. Dennis was a new member of the House. We hit it off immediately. For over 30 years, Dennis has been one of my closest friends in the legislature. He is a quiet giant, and the epitome of a kind, Christian statesman, who lives out his faith in the public square.
I could fill several weeks of AFA-IN emails about the qualities of this man and the battles he has courageously fought as an economic and social conservative. Dennis has been responsible for a great many positive public policies in place today.
If ever there was a person who fulfilled the writings of the apostle Paul about running the race and fighting the good fight of faith it is Dennis Kruse. You would not know it from some of the news stories trying to paint him as a far-right extremist, but legislators on both sides of the political aisle admire and respect Dennis. He will no doubt receive a lot of accolades from legislators on the floor of the House and Senate at the end of the session this Spring. He deserves every one of them. I will miss him greatly following this next session.
One interesting bit of trivia about Senator Kruse. I believe that he was the first, perhaps the only, legislator in the nation to serve as the chairman of an education committee who was also a home school parent. Among other things, Dennis, sometimes single-handedly in that leadership position, protected the freedoms of home school families.
A Pro-Family Benefit from Covid
A new study from the Wheatly Institution finds that one benefit of the Covid pandemic is a possible reset for parents. They are looking more toward home. More than half of parents with children under age 18 said that COVID-19 has made them more likely to prefer working from home, either most of the time (33%) or half of the time (20%). Over half of fathers said the coronavirus pandemic has made them more likely to prefer working from home. A majority (53%) of mothers would prefer to work from home most or half of the time.
The study also found that full-time center-based childcare, the arrangement most often discussed in the public policy arena, was only desired by 11% of parents. Most families who currently have a stay-at-home parent (57%) are practicing what they believe is the best arrangement for their families. Some families with children under age 5 who currently have one parent at home full-time have a desire for more paid work. However, instead of sending their kids to daycare full time (8%), these parents were more likely to prefer working flexible hours and sharing childcare responsibilities (23%).
You can read more about this here: https://ifstudies.org/blog/homeward-bound-the-work-family-reset-in-post-covid-america
In Their Own Words:
“If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too.” — Somerset Maugham