Andrea Neal (Nov. 26 guest column) believes Hoosiers are fully on board with “education reform” and that Glenda Ritz’s defeat of Tony Bennett happened because of only two factors: teacher networking and conservatives opposed to the Common Core standards.
I can’t speak for the rest of the state, but here in Allen County (which swung to Ritz but voted overwhelmingly for Pence) parents and taxpayers are upset with a system that provides little or no oversight to charters and private voucher-accepting schools. Allen is home to three failing charter schools and a failing private school that used its nearly half-million dollars of voucher-provided taxpayer money to purchase its church/school.
Parents are tired of Bennett’s march toward more and more testing. Parents, and not just conservatives, do not want their children subjected to the avalanche of tests that Common Core will bring. Tell parents that New Jersey will pilot 174 assessments this year in grades K-12 as part of preparing to implement Common Core, and their eyes bug out. And you can’t escape them with a voucher. Since most assessments must be given online, all schools — traditional public, charter and voucher private — are concerned about paying for additional technology. This huge unfunded mandate for parents and taxpayers.
I could go on about IREAD3, school grades that some superintendents and principals struggle to explain, Bennett’s acceptance of contributions from interests outside of Indiana (including testing companies), funneling state money to for-profit school operators, a highly touted Indiana Growth Model that seems to have disappeared and the possible attempt to deprofessionalize the teaching profession (REPA2). In many cases, Ritz does not need to change Indiana law as Neal suggests, but merely rewrite policies that follow the intent of the law.
Neal also gives no credit to Ritz herself, a tireless campaigner who crisscrossed the state many times connecting with parents, farmers and business owners. Neal should consider the possibility that if Pence ignores his slim 75,000-vote victory and continues as Bennett would, Pence may suffer Bennett’s fate in 2016.
A day after reading guest columnist Andrea Neal, I’m still bothered by her notion that Glenda Ritz must step in line and follow the same policies that ended Tony Bennett’s reign as superintendent of Indiana education.
For the record, I am not a teacher and voted for Ritz mainly because of the cutting of local school board budgets all over the state and turning around and giving vouchers to families interested in their children attending private schools. Another reason is the pass/fail grading system that diminishes the work good teachers are capable of doing, especially when their future and their salaries are based on a system that can’t seriously compete with private schools.
Private schools get to choose their students. Public schools don’t get that privilege. The fact that Republicans did very well in the Indiana elections only shows that Bennett lost his job because he wasn’t listening to his educators or his constituents.
I would like to respond to Bruce Cynar of Leo, who recently wrote naming his selections for a “Dishonor Roll” of men who had worked in Washington, D.C. With the exception of President Dwight Eisenhower, I agree wholeheartedly with him. We are all human and fail in some way, shape or form in whatever we do.
Here are my selections of an “Honor Roll”: George C. Marshall, Harry Truman, Everett Dirksen, E. Ross Adair, J. Edward Roush, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Gerald Ford, Ron Folgeman, George H.W. Bush, Evan Bayh, George Bush, Dan Coats, John Glenn, Mike Pence and Marco Rubio.
In answer to your question: Does anyone in Washington keep their pants on? Yes. We must keep them all in our prayers.