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Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A decade of charter schools in Indiana the focus of Indianapolis panel discussion

CEEP policy chat focused on first 10 years of charters

Oct. 19, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The author of the 2001 legislation authorizing charter schools in Indiana, charter school operators and leaders, and education experts will meet to discuss the first decade of charter schools in the state during a panel discussion next week in Indianapolis.

"The Impact of Charter Schools in Indiana After a Decade," part of the Education Policy Chat series from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) at Indiana University, is on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. in the Indianapolis Convention Center, Room 140.

Then state Sen. Teresa Lubbers pushed through a charter schools bill in 2001 after years of failed attempts. The original bill authorized school districts, the mayor of Indianapolis and public four-year colleges and universities in Indiana to sponsor charter schools.

Charter schools are public schools that operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools. They must meet accountability measures set forth in the school charter, but are allowed to establish curricula free of typical public school regulations. The Indiana General Assembly passed legislation in the 2011 session to allow for more charter schools. Currently, there are 65 charter schools operating in Indiana.

"Indiana has one of the country's most mature and unique systems for charter schools," said Jonathan Plucker, director of CEEP, "and this anniversary is a fitting time to examine the successes, disappointments and possible future directions of this system."

Plucker will moderate the panel, which includes:

  • Lubbers, now the Indiana commissioner for higher education. During her 17 years in the Indiana Senate, Lubbers vigorously promoted the charter school legislation that passed in 2001. She now heads the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the coordinating agency for Indiana's public higher education institutions.
  • Mark Berends, professor of sociology and education at the University of Notre Dame and director of the National Center on School Choice and the Center for Research on Education Opportunity. Some of his research focuses on the ways in which school conditions and instruction may be related to student-achievement gains and the effects of charter schools on students and teachers.
  • Kevin Teasley, president and founder of the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit aimed at supporting parents interested in additional educational options. Teasley is co-founder and CEO of several charter schools throughout the state. He is on the national advisory board of the National Charter School Institute, the executive committee of the Indiana Charter Schools Association, and is a contributing editor of School Reform News.
  • Gretchen Gutman, associate vice president for governmental relations at Ball State University. Gutman is a former partner at the Indianapolis law firm Taft, Stettinius and Hollister LLP and is widely recognized for her understanding of the Indiana school finance system as well as the state's property tax assessment and tax policy.
  • Russ Simnick, president of the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association. Simnick assumed his leadership position in 2008 for the organization that advocates for Indiana charter schools. An experienced public relations and advertising executive, Simnick obtained teaching licenses and served as a teacher and administrator at Irvington Community High School, an Indianapolis charter school.

The panel will consider a number of topics regarding the development of Indiana charter schools.

"Some of the topics we'll address include the extent to which charter schools maximize their statutory freedom to provide an effective, innovative education, the evidence about charter progress in educating students and the role and effects of competition among public schools," Plucker said.

The Policy Chat is co-sponsored by the IU Education Policy Student Association. The event is free and open to the public.

CEEP, one of the country's leading nonpartisan education policy and program evaluation centers, promotes and supports rigorous evaluation and research primarily, but not exclusively, for educational, human services and nonprofit organizations. Center projects address state, national and international education questions. CEEP is part of the IU School of Education. To learn more about CEEP, go to