Expect some lively discussion at today’s Fort Wayne Community Schools Board meeting. A presentation on the controversial Common Core State Standards is on the agenda.
Superintendent Wendy Robinson, Chief Academic Officer Steven Cobb and Academic Services Director Natalie Nelson will make the presentation, which follows passionate testimony before the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 16. Senate Bill 193 requires the state to pull out of Common Core.
Newly elected board member Glenna Jehl testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing, incorrectly claiming that FWCS had adopted the standards. The local school district has no authority to opt out of statewide standards, curriculum and testing.
The Indiana State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, with implementation already under way for students in kindergarten and first grade. Full implementation is scheduled for the 2014-15 school year, unless legislative efforts to pull out are approved. The bill has not passed out of the Senate panel and is not scheduled for a vote at Wednesday’s committee meeting.
Indiana is one of 45 states adopting the national standards, with a new statewide test aligned to the standards expected in 2015. Currently, all states have their own academic standards, so it’s impossible to compare academic performance on the basis of state-level testing. Common Core would allow apples-to-apples comparisons of performance, along with an assurance that students would graduate with essential facts and ideas, regardless of where they studied. States are permitted to add up to 15 percent of their own requirements.
Common Core critics, including some educators, argue that the standards erode local control of schools, stifle creativity and emphasize skills to the exclusion of the arts and humanities. Some Indiana opponents say the Common Core standards are lower than the state’s and also criticize an emphasis away from reading classic literature.
The campaign against Common Core gathered much energy when tea party supporters, fueled by concern over federal intrusion into schools, took notice. Some refer to the national standards as Obamacore, but development of the Common Core standards was state-led, through the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Jehl, elected in November to represent the northeast portion of the school district, used her testimony before the Senate committee to attack academic performance at FWCS, alleging a connection between achievement and the district’s participation in ISTEP+ and IPASS, the state’s assessment system that preceded ISTEP.
Tonight’s presentation should be informative for Jehl and anyone else unfamiliar with a school district’s authority in statewide education policy.
The Fort Wayne City Council has invited Eric Kuhne, the architect who designed Headwaters Park, to lead a discussion about riverfront development. The topic is especially appropriate considering the Riverfront Development Plan was the first project to garner Legacy Fund money. And Kuhne, a New Haven native who worked in the city planning department under Mayor Ivan Lebamoff and has become an internationally famous architect based in London, is an ideal person to lead an inspiring discussion. Kuhne’s firm, CivicArts, is known for its large civic projects, many featuring waterfronts.
Building permitting process
Local developers have long complained that the process to get a project approved by the city and county is too often cumbersome, inefficient and confusing. For several years, city and county leaders have worked – with varying degrees of success – to streamline and improve the land-use permitting process.
Project consultants Clarion Associates will be presenting the latest proposed changes to the process and asking for residents’ comments at a public meeting on Wednesday.
The Joint Permitting Oversight Board, the group charged with improving the process, has proposed several changes, including updating the permitted uses and development standards for agricultural and residential zones and altering the approval process for large projects. The proposed changes also include revamped administrative procedures for planning staff and oversight agencies such as plan commissions and zoning boards.
The goal is to make the rules easier to understand so that residents wanting to build a new shed, for example, know how close to the property line they can build.
The proposed changes to the zoning ordinances are available online at www.allencounty.us/land-use/dps.
The Allen County Election Board will meet Thursday to discuss an unusually large number of apparent campaign finance violations.
It’s not uncommon for a handful of candidates to miss a campaign finance reporting deadline. Most of the violations are unintentional and quickly resolved. In recent years, the board, rightly, has made an effort to crack down on violators and to be more consistent about levying penalties.
The latest filing deadline was Jan. 16, and for some reason there are a larger-than-usual number of candidates who face penalties. Beth Dlug, director of elections, normally posts the violations outside the election board office, but to ensure better access to the violation information she also posted the names of the 19 violators on the county website.