I. STRIPPING RITZ OF POWER
Indiana Governor Mike Pence pretends to be conciliatory by dissolving CECI, his failed attempt at a duplicate education department. However, with that one step forward the Governor has taken two…or perhaps more…steps back.
First, Governor Pence will use his supermajority-rubber-stamp-legislature to do what Tony Bennett, CECI, and his minions on the State Board of Education (SBOE) could not do. He is going to remove the State Superintendent of Public Instruction from the position of chair of the SBOE. Defeating Superintendent Glenda Ritz has been his goal since they both took office in 2012. He and his partners in the legislature and the SBOE have spent the last two years trying various methods of overturning the votes of 1.3 millions citizens of Indiana. Now, with the legislature in his pocket, he can orchestrate removing her from her only position as chair of the SBOE.
In the end Glenda Ritz, who won election over the corrupt incumbent, Tony Bennett, will have only one of the 11 seats on the state board and will no longer carry any leverage as chairperson. The rest of the seats will belong to appointees of Bennett’s pal, Mitch Daniels, and Governor Pence himself. Without Superintendent Ritz as chairperson defending public education, the privatizers, led by Elsener, will end all dissent on the board and fully join the governor and legislature in the process of privatizing public education in Indiana.
Pence announced Thursday that he would like to have his appointees to the State Board of Education select their own chairman, a move that places Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz in danger of losing the chairmanship. Pence won the backing of House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long shortly after his announcement.
The only surprise here is that it took Governor Pence this long to figure out a way to scrub 1.3 million Hoosier votes.
After this final victory over the voters of Indiana the Governor will continue with his ALEC based plans…
The Governor has called for — and the Supermajority in the legislature will undoubtedly give him — increased funding for charter schools in Indiana. The privately run charter schools, operating with little or no public oversight, will take tax money meant for public schools, and use it to enrich their shareholders and CEOs. Almost as an afterthought, they will hire minimally trained or inexperienced instructors to teach children whose neighborhood schools have been closed by the also-now-rubber-stamp-SBOE (See part V. below). Has the Governor checked to see how Indiana’s charters are doing?
Results from Indiana and elsewhere around the country have shown that charter schools don’t do a better job of teaching children than traditional public schools. They enrich shareholders and CEOs, use poorly trained or inexperienced personnel (aka cheaper) whenever possible, and do it all with public tax dollars. Charters have a habit of skimming the best students from traditional public schools (or dumping those lower achieving students who happen to sneak in somehow), so that the most expensive and most difficult to teach students remain in the now drastically underfunded public schools.
III. FREEDOM TO DESTROY THE TEACHING PROFESSION
The policy which the Governor named “Freedom to Teach” will allow schools to gain exemption from certain regulations in order to “innovate.” The waivers will allow schools to “innovate” by hiring unqualified and unlicensed teachers, ignore the nearly eviscerated collective bargaining law for staff, and ignore other laws meant to protect employees and improve education. With lower staff salaries, more of our tax money will be funneled into the pockets of the businesses, their shareholders, and the CEOs running the schools…some of which will likely find its way back to the reelection coffers of the politicians who made it all possible.
Like charter schools, vouchers don’t improve education or save the state money. Vouchers are tax dollars which flow into church collection plates or corporate bank accounts. The Governor wants to open vouchers up to everyone…and increase yet again the amount of public money allotted for the privatization of Indiana’s schools. Have vouchers saved the state money? Have they improved education?
V. TAKEOVER SCHOOLS
The now-supermajority SBOE, under direction from the Governor, will be able to take control of money coming from the federal government (privatizers as well) and use it to take over public schools and public school systems. Those schools would then likely be turned over to private corporations to function as charter schools…
DID BENNETT REALLY LOSE?
We, the voters of Indiana, did this to ourselves. Even though we elected Glenda Ritz, Indiana voters chose as governor Mike Pence who was clear in his quest for privatized education…and reelected the legislature’s architects of the Daniels-Bennett plan for privatizing public education in the state.
Tony Bennett doesn’t need to be in the Superintendent’s chair for his plan to succeed in Indiana.
It’s worth repeating. The Governor’s plan for education is bad for children.
- Charter schools don’t do any better than traditional public schools 1 2 3
- Vouchers do nothing to help public education or save money 1 2
- Testing isn’t teaching and tests don’t measure everything. They especially don’t measure the success or failure of teachers and schools. The number one factor in low test scores is poverty 1 2 3
- Unions are not the cause of students’ low achievement…and union teachers don’t become teachers just for the high pay 1 2 3
- Experienced teachers are better than beginners 1
- Indiana schools are not, and never have been, failing. Poverty is the main cause of academic low achievement 1 2
It’s not too late. The same legislators we elected in 2012 and 2014 can be told that a privatized education system is not what we want for the children of Indiana. If even half of Glenda Ritz’s 2012 supporters contacted state legislators the response would be positive.
Click here to contact your state senators and representatives. Tell them to support PUBLIC schools, not privatization and the deprofessionalization of educators.
We can’t wait another two years to stop the Daniels-Bennett-Pence plan for privatization of Indiana’s schools.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.