Monday, January 17, 2011

Bullying: What should the parents do?

If you’ve ever suspected that your child has been bullied – or has bullied another child – you’ll want to read the Indiana Partnerships Center’s January newsletter.

Read the January Newsletter
We were struck by the onslaught of news stories about bullying, including the horrible news last fall that two boys in Central Indiana – one 14, the other 15 – hanged themselves after having been harassed at their schools.
 

So we decided to offer parents some insight into the issue of bullying, including the perspectives of two students who have been bullied; a mother whose child was bullied; a therapist who works with victims and their families; and a school official.

It’s hard to say if bullying is more common today than when we parents were in school. Most of us remember when the “cool kids” picked on the “nerds,” when some athletes had to endure a rite of passage to be accepted by their teams. But there is a new twist – cyber bullying, which means bullying via the Internet or cell phones – that subjects victims to relentless, 24/7, widespread and anonymous bullying. For some, such as the two Central Indiana boys, bullying becomes too much to bear. They take the ultimate way out, and create the ultimate tragedy for their loved ones.

One of the simplest yet most profound messages conveyed through the interviews conducted for our newsletter is that we can reduce, even eliminate, bullying if we teach our children to be kind. If a mother witnesses her young son being cruel to a playmate, she should ask him how he would feel if the roles were reversed. A child who learns empathy at an early age is less likely to bully in middle school and beyond.

In addition to the stories, our newsletter also offers links to online resources that go into greater depth about the issue. A particularly valuable one is the opportunity to take a bullying quiz created by the Josephson Institute on Ethics that will help you determine if you are doing all you can to prevent your child from being a victim or being a bully.

The Josephson Institute gave us permission to use its quiz for our members. If you’d like to take it, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PGMXVGJ or, for a Spanish version, to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6ZMK2NS.

You may score your own results to see if you’re promoting healthy social relationships for your child. We hope to get sufficient results to share them with the Josephson Institute for its continued research on bullying.

What has your child’s experience been with bullying? Has your child’s school responded appropriately? Weigh in on the issue here.


The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child’s school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do Daniels' Education Points Do the Job?

OK, readers, it’s time for you to weigh in, and I’m not talking about your New Year’s resolution. I’m talking about Gov. Mitch Daniels’ resolution to reform Indiana education.

In his State of the State address, the governor said he “can’t wait for education reforms.” But are his ideas the best for Indiana students, families and schools? I am heartened that education is front and center on the governor’s agenda, but plenty of debate and discussion are needed during the next few months.

Gov. Daniels asked legislators to do the following:
  • Give parents more voice and choice by increasing the number of public charter schools, now about 60, in the state.
  • Allow low-income children to take taxpayer-supplied school dollars to private schools. This voucher plan has been long debated in Indiana. Charter schools grew out of this debate.
  • Give merit pay to teachers who are performing best. Teacher evaluations would be based in part on student performance.
  • Give school boards more flexibility by repealing some mandates.
  • Give students who graduate high school in less than four years the money that the state would have paid for their education in the senior year. That money could be used only for additional education.
Readers, we are interested in hearing the pros and cons of each proposal. Have you, like the governor, waited long enough for education reforms? Is this the time? Or as state Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said in response to the speech, “does the governor want to dismantle public education?”

Always remember one thing: you have a voice. Let it be heard here and be sure to let your legislators know your opinions. You can call or e-mail them or even look them up on social media outlets.

We look forward to this discussion.


The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child’s school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good news about the 2010 graduation rates!

By Jackie Garvey
It was too bad that the announcement about 2010 graduation rates came right before Christmas. You may have been too distracted to hear the good news.

It bears repeating: the graduation rate for young people in Indiana in May 2010 was 84.1 percent, up 2.6 percentage points over 2009.

That in itself is noteworthy. But particularly gratifying is that young people who traditionally have been disadvantaged in school – members of racial minorities and youths who come from poor families – made the biggest strides.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the rates for African-American and Hispanic students, those with limited English proficiency and those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches each increased more than 6 percentage points from 2009 to 2010.

In the state’s largest school district, Indianapolis Public Schools, which has a large percentage of minority students, rates at several schools increased substantially. Arsenal Technical High School’s rate, for example, increased 10 percentage points in one year. Arlington’s rate went from 48 percent in 2008 to 59.7 percent in 2009 to 66.4 percent in 2010. And George Washington Community, with a rate of just 47 percent in 2009, reached 68.4 percent last spring.

It’s easiest to quantify the change with those statistics, but it’s exciting to realize that those percentage points represent real young people who, by graduating from high school, are less likely to be unemployed, poor, incarcerated or single mothers than they would have been had they dropped out of school.

There are lots of reasons for the changes and they probably vary by school district, maybe even by school. It’s my sense, however, that change is coming because more and more people – including you, because you’re reading this – recognize that we cannot and must not throw our kids away. We cannot and must not consign them to sad, unfulfilled, difficult lives.

We can and must do everything in our power to provide them with the solid foundation on which they can build. Every day, I see parents who recognize this duty and step up to it.

Did your child’s school post a higher graduation rate in 2010 than in 2009? What do you think made the difference? If your school’s rate declined, was that just a quirk, or has something gone awry? Post your thoughts here.

The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child’s school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.