The most-watched event at the Indiana Statehouse this week is likely to be a discussion of whether the state should withdraw from the Common Core State Standards initiative.
Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, unsuccessfully sought to pull Indiana from the national standards movement last year. But opposition has grown among tea party groups and even from some public education supporters who question motives behind the initiative as well as the quality of the standards.
The Indiana State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards in August 2011 with little public input. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who lost his re-election bid in November, is a key player in the Common Core movement.
Schneider will hold a news conference Tuesday featuring national educators who oppose the national standards. One of them, University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, argues that the English and language arts requirements are lower than Indiana’s current standards.
The Senate Education and Career Development Committee will also vote Wednesday on four bills discussed last week, including a voucher expansion bill, a cursive writing curriculum requirement, and a bill to address problems with a law designed to make vacant school buildings readily available to charter schools.
Both Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools have been hampered by the law in efforts to sell vacant buildings.
Gov. Mike Pence assumes the governor’s position today, when he will take the oath of office in the Indiana Statehouse. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m., with Pence taking the oath about 11:30 a.m.
Hoosiers will most likely get a much better idea of Pence’s agenda – particularly for his first year in office – next week, when he delivers his first State of the State address Jan. 22.
Glenda Ritz assumes the office of superintendent of public instruction Monday, but her inauguration ceremony will take place Saturday.
And though President Obama’s public swearing-in ceremony will be Jan. 21 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – he and Vice President Biden will privately take the oath of office Sunday, the day their second terms officially begin.
Also in Washington this week, House Speaker John Boehner is expected to bring up a $60 billion bill to help rebuild areas hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Aid for the northeast U.S. victims has already sparked opposition within Boehner’s own party, with some Republicans saying they will not vote for the measure without equivalent spending cuts in other areas.
Fort Wayne city officials’ series of public meetings to discuss the city’s effort to acquire Aqua Indiana’s water utility in southwest Fort Wayne continue this week.
In November, Mayor Tom Henry announced the city’s plan to move forward with condemnation proceedings against the privately owned utility because of Aqua Indiana’s reliability problems and resulting public safety concerns.
Aqua serves 12,000 customers in its southwest service area and 70 percent of those customers are city residents.
City officials wisely scheduled meetings throughout the city and not just in the southwest quadrant. Residents who are Aqua Indiana customers will be affected the most if the effort is successful and they become City Utilities customers. But all Fort Wayne residents will be on the hook in paying for the effort. And city officials should be prepared to discuss those potential costs at the public meetings.
Tonight’s Fort Wayne Community Schools board meeting is the first for newly elected board member Glenna Jehl. She defeated John Peirce to represent the northeast District 2. Jehl is a real estate agent for Olinger & Associates.
Board members Steve Corona and Becky Hill begin new four-year terms today. The board is expected to re-elect Mark GiaQuinta board president.
As part of a shocking and little-reported sex scandal involving a northwest Indiana mega-church, Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Tuesday for transporting a minor girl across state lines for sex.
Schaap’s attorneys have asked for the minimum sentence of 10 years, arguing that the former pastor – whose church has 15,000 members and once boasted as being the largest church in the nation – was under great stress and depressed, causing his aberrant behavior.
But an investigative report in the most recent Chicago magazine, published by the Chicago Tribune, suggests Schaap’s illegal action was anything but aberrant. The magazine described how at least a dozen people once affiliated with the church have been arrested or sued for sex crimes and that Schaap’s sermons were sometimes uncomfortably sexual. One accessible on the Internet, entitled The Polished Shaft, is just as disgusting as its title suggests.
It’s Hammer time
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has its winter meeting Thursday through Saturday in Washington.
There are the topics you’d expect: water, immigration and food policy, among many others. And the speakers you’d expect, like outgoing Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Rebecca M. Blank, acting secretary of commerce. Vice President Biden is going to address a luncheon and will presumably talk about guns.
And then there is this. At the presentation of the Technology and Innovation Task Force, the introduction will be by MC Hammer, the rap star. We’re guessing that the attendance at this task force presentation will be higher than usual. That may be the point.