The Quiet Revolution Turning Around Michigan City Area Schools

Secretary Duncan Visits a Classroom at Lake Hills Elementary School in Michigan City, Indiana

On a visit to Lake Hills Elementary School in Michigan City, Ind., earlier today, Secretary Duncan saluted the community for renewing a spirit of enthusiasm and pride among teachers, staff, parents, students, and the community and he commended everyone for working together to improve student outcomes.

Michigan City Area Schools (MCAS) is an example of labor and management working together to improve education. MCAS recently reached a contract agreement with teachers that establishes school-based leadership teams to ensure collaborative decision-making and planning. The agreement also included a new principals’ compensation package that incorporates a “pay for performance” component, showing that through collaboration, school leaders are being held accountable for student achievement, and rewarded for student success.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Barbara Eason-Watkins and with the support of Mayor Chuck Oberlie, MCAS is working to re-energize and re-focus, offering more choices and opportunities for students. This fall, the district will launch their first two magnet schools, with Lake Hills Elementary School transitioning to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) focused school, and Pine Elementary will become a visual and performing arts themed school.

MCAS has been recognized at the state and national levels for its innovative classroom technology, and by the way it uses new ways to engage students in learning. Believing that economic success is closely tied to school success, MCAS is working to realign career and technical education by partnering with local businesses, Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue University North Central to create a better trained workforce that will meet the needs of area businesses.

The reforms being implemented at MCAS are the same reforms that ED is supporting through programs such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, School Improvement Grants, and the Teacher Incentive Fund. Secretary Duncan calls this the “quiet revolution,” and it is largely being driven by motivated parents, great educators and administrators challenging defeatism, elected officials and stakeholders who value education, and foundations and entrepreneurs who are bringing fresh new thinking to help schools and students grow and improve.

–Sherry Schweitzer

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