FWCS chief ‘insulted’ by ill-informed Ed. secretary

Wendy Robinson also took on Indiana's school voucher system

FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson addresses the Fort Wayne Rotary Club Monday afternoon.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) In “The State of Our Schools” address, Fort Wayne Community Schools superintendent Wendy Robinson discussed the district’s successes and challenges.

When it comes to successes, Robinson said the improvements the district has been able to make through funds approved in a referendum vote last year are greatly appreciated. She said several schools have improved plumbing, safety measures and heating and air conditioning. She also highlighted several of the programs the district offers.

Robinson also expressed her concerns about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“To choose someone to have the highest position connected to education who has basically no knowledge of just even the theories and the concepts in education, I am insulted but I’m also sad for her because I cannot imagine how effective a person can be when you are in a field that everyone is translating for you,” Robinson said.

She said the impact of DeVos in the top job has yet to be seen.

At the state level, Robinson said funding is always a challenge and with a new funding formula for schools, FWCS is set up to get hit hard.

“People who have applied for public assistance, that number is down about 15 percent across the state, so when you have the number that you base the formula on go down well obviously districts such as Fort Wayne Community Schools, with our diversity and our free and reduced population, will be hit the hardest,” Robinson said.

Robinson didn’t hesitate when asked what the district’s biggest hurdle is here at home.

“I think perception,” Robinson said. “I think people view choice as this new area that everyone is just so fortunate because parents get to make a choice. We’ve been a choice district for almost 40 years.”

Another challenge the district faces is that Robinson said many view the district’s diversity as a negative.

“Where as we see it as the absolute rich nugget that coming here is something that kids get to really learn how to communicate globally,” Robinson said.

Students will also begin ISTEP testing soon. Robinson served on the state’s ISTEP panel, aimed at finding a replacement test for the troubled ISTEP. She said she is optimistic lawmakers will craft a new test that is very different from the current one.