Scott Elliott, Indystar.com, October 8, 2012
"A national education nonprofit has chosen Indianapolis to pilot a survey of local teachers that aims to go beyond test scores and offer information about such things as whether a school is clean and safe, whether it encourages creativity and independent thinking and how well its staff communicates with parents.
"The point, says GreatSchools.org, is to give parents valuable information to help them navigate the fast-growing public, private and charter school options.
"Sound like good news? Not to Marion County school superintendents, who have become increasingly suspicious that such efforts are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to erode public schools and steer parents and students to private and charter schools.
"In fact, almost no Marion County school districts are cooperating with GreatSchools.org’s survey effort, which is backed by the Indiana Department of Education, Mayor Greg Ballard and the United Way.
"Jacob Pactor, a Speedway High School English teacher who filled out the survey, was glad to have the opportunity to say great things about his school.
"“I was excited as a teacher to have somebody ask for my opinion about the school that I’m working at,” he said. “We brag about it internally, and we should brag externally.”
"The state’s A to F grading system for schools, Pactor said, simply can’t capture important dimensions such as whether a school is safe and nurturing. The climate survey can supplement the grades.
"“It’s hard to judge anything,” he said, “if you judge based just on test scores.”"