Education One addresses State Board officials, calling for reform

April 11, 2024

Education One at State Board of Education
Lindsay Omlor, executive director of charter schools for Education One, testifies before the Indiana State Board of Education on Wednesday.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Board of Education met Wednesday to decide the future of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, a charter school located in Gary, Indiana.

In this precedent-setting meeting, state board officials heard testimony from Education One at Trine University and Calumet College of St. Joseph to determine whether Calumet College would be allowed to authorize Thea Bowman after Education One’s board voted to revoke the school’s charter contract in December 2023.

In remarks to the board, Carrie Hutton, Charter School Liaison for Calumet, shared sentiments regarding ongoing performance concerns that Education One says have existed throughout the seven years they have authorized the school.

“Another deficiency cited by Education One is achievement on summative assessment, SAT scores in math and evidence-based reading and writing,” Hutton said.  “We don't think this is a deficiency.”

However, based on the most recently released data from the 2022-23 school year, the Indiana GPS Dashboard shows only 1.8% of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy 11th-graders met performance benchmarks on the SAT, the state’s high school qualifying exam.  In 2021-22, the school had 0% of their students meet those same benchmarks.   

Hutton went on to critique Education One’s approach to accountability, stating, “We plan to consider community context and regional educational alternatives when we look at summative assessment data for TBLA, not just compare them to the entire state of Indiana.”  Yet, according to Education One’s website, the authorizer measures both state and local academic performance, comparing a school’s performance not only to the state, but to their local comparison schools, as well.  Similarly, information from Thea Bowman Leadership Academy’s most recent annual review indicates the school did not meet standards when comparing their proficiency and growth performance to the local community.

“Calumet has made many missteps in this process, that have further complicated our ability to hold this school accountable,” Lindsay Omlor, executive director of charter schools for Education One, said, “including noncompliance with multiple Indiana laws…” In her remarks, Omlor addressed state board officials calling for reform in holding Calumet College of St. Joseph accountable to statutory requirements.  In addition, she addressed a need for increased quality for school board governance in Gary.

“Education One cannot, in good conscience, continue to authorize this school, however…I am not here today to weigh in on your decision regarding next steps.  We have upheld our statutory obligation to ensure that the schools we grant charters to are providing high-quality options for students and families - which is the job you all have entrusted us with, as an authorizer in the state of Indiana.”  Omlor said.  “While I have no doubt that the Thea Bowman board has a heart for kids, caring deeply about children does not always coincide with the expertise needed to govern a school.  I would love to see the state board proactively engage with local leadership in Gary to consider a more effective model for school board governance, that would eliminate the long-term capacity issues that continue to plague this school.”

The state board voted in favor of Calumet’s proposal to authorize Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, effective July 1, 2024, making Calumet College of St. Joseph the third authorizer of this school.

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