An October meeting of the state board of education that was said by Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction, to do something about the Carmel-Clay Schools proposal, of having a “high performing school district” status, failed to do so. By having such a status, the district would be excluded from some of the different rules and standards that, according to Superintendent Jeff Swensson, inhibit an improvement in education for a district like Carmel. Swensson said he is disappointed by the fact that the state failed to address the issue by instead initiating such an endeavor geared more towards charter schools.
“Unfortunately, from my point of view as a public school person, when Dr. Bennett speaks about differentiation of schooling and wanting to go to higher standards, etc., he tends to go right into the charter school category,” Swensson said. “I was disappointed in the state school board meeting earlier this month. There wasn’t a thing talked about or in the agenda or even discussed.”
Swensson said he and Bennett have a meeting planned in November where this would be discussed as he attempts to further this proposal.
“Why not deliberately establish this higher sense of learning?” Swensson said.
One proposal made by Swensson as a part of this would be an allowance for actual professors from nearby universities to teach some classes at Carmel for those students who, by virtue of having already been accepted to the school of their choice, may not be as busy during the latter part of their senior year. For example, Swensson said if a student who had applied to IU had the opportunity to take a class taught by a professor from there, they would be able to give the university an excellent take on the student’s abilities. At the same time, for a student already accepted to a certain university, they would be able to get a jump start on their classes for that certain place.
A student fitting that second category would be senior Sarah Alonso who was accepted in August to IU, where she said she plans to attend next fall. In Alonso’s case, she said she has taken a much tougher course load this year in order to prepare herself for an easier transition to IU.
“I think CHS does a good job at offering opportunities to students, but it’s all about whether or not the students take advantage of those opportunities,” she said.
In terms of Swenssons’s proposal, Alonso said she would be interested in taking classes taught by professors at IU, but she said she feels it would be better if it was done through the university rather than through CHS. She said she feels a CHS teacher would have a greater understanding that this is one of the first college courses taken by students more so than a college professor would.
“I like that W131 is taught by Carmel teachers because they’re more used to what you are used to during the day,” she said. “W131 is definitely a college course, but I think the teachers do understand that this is your first real college course and they don’t hold your hand by any means, but I think they understand that this is important to you.”
She said she would have interest in taking some early courses directly through IU if the state would allow that, but in terms of IU professors working through CHS, Alonso said she feels it isn’t the district’s responsibility to provide those opportunities.
On the contrary, Swensson said by not pursuing such endeavors, the district would not be aspiring to meet its mission.
“All this stuff just makes sense to benefit students,” Swensson said. “There’s nothing more important.”