Is this what we want, Indiana? Did we elect Glenda Ritz as Superintendent of Public Instruction because we wanted to
- increase the state voucher program?
- reduce funding for public schools?
- find ways to increase the number of charter schools* in the state?
- lower qualifications for teachers, principals and superintendents?
- reduce the responsibilities of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction?
Apparently the Indiana General Assembly along with Governor Pence thinks so.
Why? Because we elected the same people to the General Assembly who carried out Tony Bennett and Mitch Daniel’s plan to privatize education in Indiana. Have a look…
Your General Assembly, 2013.
There are over 1 million public school students in Indiana. There are around 115,000 private school students in Indiana. Private schools or corporate-run charter schools don’t do a better job of educating students than regular public schools. Yet public schools are being punished by the Indiana General Assembly for 1) accepting everyone who enters their doors and 2) being staffed (at least many of them) by members of teachers unions.
Public funds should go to public schools. The state has a vested interest in maintaining the education of its citizens. All citizens of the state should support public schools with taxes, just like they support police and fire departments, roads and libraries. It’s good for the state. Private schools play an important role in the education of children, but private schools are not accountable in the same way that public schools are. They should be supported by private donations, not public funds.
House Education Committee voted 9-3 to pass House Bill 1003, the enormous $47 million voucher expansion bill…This is new, additional state money, mostly going to private school parents. The concept of “vouchers as a savings to the state” has been abandoned with the support of Gov. Pence. When Gov. Pence announced a 1% increase for education in his budget, the actual figure came to about $70 million. It looks now that Gov. Pence may have intended about two-thirds of that increase to go to private schools rather than to public schools.
Before he left for Florida, former state superintendent Tony Bennett led the State Board of Education through the process of reducing qualifications for becoming a teacher in Indiana. The General Assembly is following his (absentee) lead, apparently, as they open the door to non-educator superintendents.
At Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting, the bill saying that a superintendent of schools should not be required to hold a teacher’s license or a superintendent’s license, House Bill 1357, passed the committee on a party line vote.
Another link in the chain of de-professionalizing the teaching profession.
The single most influential factor in school achievement is economics. When poor children fail because of a host of poverty related issues the state can blame teachers…and with this bill, teacher training institutions.
Then, when the teachers are fired because of low test scores new, cheaper, untrained teachers can be hired.
In Senate bill 409, he wants to shift the responsibility for teacher licensing from the state to teacher preparation programs.
Why? Banks, a Columbia City Republican, didn’t offer an explanation in a meeting with our editorial board, but it’s not hard to guess. So-called education reformers are all about accountability. They would like nothing better than to tie particular teacher education programs to struggling schools. It would harm any efforts to place the best teacher candidates in classrooms with the greatest needs, but improving Indiana schools is not their intent.
WHO OWNS THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS?
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” — John Adams
Parent Trigger laws are anti-parent laws. The public creates and supports public schools. One group of parents during one particular year are not the only ones who should have a say in the control of the school. The schools belong to the community and school boards, elected by the community, have the obligation to keep the school in operation for future generations.
What happens if next year’s parents don’t like the results of the “parent trigger?” Is there provision in the law to return the school to school board control?
I didn’t think so.
Once the community gives up control of their schools it’s very difficult to get it back.
The bill is not parent-driven, of course. Parent trigger laws are a tool of corporate reformers, generously supported by the Wal-mart heirs and other anti-union forces.
Last year’s “Won’t Back Down” was the Hollywood version of a parent-trigger story. Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz bankrolled the production through his Walden Media enterprise. The same outfit is responsible for “Waiting for Superman.” In reality, parent trigger laws haven’t improved any schools.
The laws are built on a terribly flawed premise: That a school belongs to the parents whose children currently attend there.
Public schools belong to the public – the taxpayers who created them, built them, maintain them and provide for their operation. It’s a dangerous precedent to confer control of a school to parents currently involved. Imagine the tumultuous effect on education if key decisions were left to the whims of an ever-changing group of parents.
OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS
They think we don’t care. They think since we elected them with a supermajority we want them to continue what they were doing to the public schools under Daniels and Bennett. Is that true? Is that what we want?
We need to tell them. We need Republican voters to tell them that, “yes, we elected you because we agree with your positions on other issues — whatever they may be — but we don’t want you to dismantle the public schools in Indiana.”
The real thumb-in-the-eye to voters is the voucher expansion bill, which has the backing of Pence and House leadership. Karen Francisco of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette runs down its effects in this post. It would transfer an estimated $47 million from public to private schools, boost the minimum voucher amount by 44 percent and triple the tax deduction allowed for private-school expenses.
“Any lawmaker who supported the voucher bill two years ago as a limited effort to increase school choice was duped,” Francisco writes. “The legislation was a first, small step in privatizing education and tearing down public education.”
Ritz got over 1.3 million votes – nearly 53 percent of those cast, despite running as a Democrat in a Republican year in a heavily Republican state. You’d think Pence and the legislative leaders might have noticed. But when you’ve got a super-majority in both the House and Senate, you can do whatever you want, the voters be damned.
*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It’s Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.