Archives for category: Indiana

According to this article at Huffington post, State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz is thinking about running against Governor Pence next year. She won more votes than he did in 2012.

He has been harassing Ritz ever since in an effort to belittle her. He made a fool of himself nationally by signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, then backtracking when national corporations complained that they would boycott Indiana if the state allowed anti-gay discrimination.

Ritz has a chance to restore common sense and decency to Indiana. Go, Glenda!

Governor Mike Pence signed the bill to permit the state board to elect its own chair, which currently is the state superintendent Glenda Ritz. This nonsense is billed as a “reform.” The children of the state will learn more now that the board appoints the chair.

Of course, this is nothing more than a continuation of Pence’s vendetta against Ritz, who won more votes than he did in 2012.

Given that history, she is a natural candidate to run against him in 2016.

Go, Glenda!

In his never-ending campaign to strip away any power from duly-elected State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz, Governor Mike Pence has removed oversight of the voucher program from the State Education Department. Apparently he won’t be satisfied until Ritz has nothing but a key to the bathroom.

Here’s a thought. Ritz won more votes than Pence. How about Ritz for Governor in 2016? Turn the rascals out! Restore decency to the Hoosier State!

Forget all that rhetoric about “choice” to “save poor kids from failing public schools.” It is a rightwing ruse to siphon public money for private and religious schools.

Proof: in Indiana, voucher enrollments expanded by 50% this year. Fully half the voucher students never attended any public school.

These are not children who were “trapped in a failing school.” They are children whose parents want the state to pay their tuition at a nonpublic school.

“Students using the voucher program — the second largest and fastest-growing of its kind in the nation — now account for 2.6 percent of Indiana’s school system, according to the latest annual report released Monday by the Indiana Department of Education.
Vouchers, billed by the state as “choice scholarships,” funnel tax dollars to support student tuition at private schools. The program is controversial: Proponents say the program expands quality options for poor children, and opponents say the state shouldn’t use tax dollars to pay for religious education while draining the coffers of public schools.”

In a few short years, the program has changed as restrictions are dropped.

The president of the Indiana State Teachers Association said the voucher program “has become an entitlement program which in large part, now benefits middle class families who always intended to send their children to private (mostly religious) schools and taxpayers are footing the growing bill.”

“Several rules placed on the program at its infancy have since relaxed, including the enrollment cap in the first two years and a requirement that students must first try out a public school in their neighborhood before they used a scholarship. New rules last year also allowed siblings and students qualifying for special education services to use vouchers.

“The program has also become less racially diverse over time. This year 61 percent of students using vouchers are white, compared with 46 percent when it started. Just 14 percent of the students are black this year, compared with 24 percent in 2011-12. (Overall, 71 percent of Indiana students are white. About 12 percent are black.)”

This is not a bug or a glitch. This is exactly what voucher proponents like ALEC have wanted all along.

Every so often, I run into someone who says that he or she cannot take seriously the claim that there is such a thing as a “privatization” movement. They think that charter schools are public schools (I do not) and they scoff at any concern about for-profit schools. They say things like, “There have always been for-profit businesses in education, selling tests, textbooks, supplies, etc., why does it matter if some corporations run schools for profit?” In their eyes, corporate reform is innovative and risky, and no one—not even the for-profit corporations—is trying to privatize public education.

 

To anyone who questions the existence of the privatization movement, I recommend Doug Martin’s “Hoosier School Heist.” Martin is a blogger who holds a Ph.D. in nineteenth century American literature. He is a native of Indiana who is deeply versed in that state’s school politics and its major (and minor) players. His book is eye-opening; actually, his book is eye-popping. It is a no-holds-barred critique of Indiana’s politically and financially powerful privatization movement.

 

Martin’s critique shows the linkages among the free-marketeers, the Religious Right, and the greedy.

 

A few examples of his snappy style:

 

“Academic progress is irrelevant to voucher supporters, for the goal is not to improve schools through competition, as they claim, but to completely dismantle traditional public schools altogether. In fact, those calling for school privatization don’t want to hold anyone with profit motives accountable, as Florida has proven.”

 

He recognizes that vouchers and charters drain funding from public schools, leaving the latter with fewer teachers, fewer aides, fewer programs—“so for-profit education management companies can take them over with temporary teachers or justify starting charter schools by deeming the neighborhood schools as ‘failing.’”

 

He sees why Wall Street is involved in the charter industry. “Making money from disasters is a Wall Street specialty, and investors have jumped on the opportunity for school privatization. Besides generating tax-exempt bonds, stocks, and other shady financial gimmicks, school privatization allows big bank CEOs, private equity firm honchos, and hedge fund managers to collect interest on loans to non-unionized charter schools which employ a temporary teacher workforce….Unlike traditional public school boards, charter school boards are unelected, undemocratic, and cloaked in mystery. Their conflicts of interest enable schemes like high rent to waste public education money.”

 

Martin challenges the corporate-sponsored claims that the public schools are failing to produce a good workforce. He says that Indiana’s newspapers and TV stations “advertise corporate school talking points, portray front group spokespeople as ‘experts,’ and seldom, if ever, question that profit motives and rigged research behind the corporate-sponsored statements that our schools are failing.”

 

The Republican-dominated legislature has taken steps to cripple the funding of public schools. “To sneak more politically connected for-profit charter schools into Indiana, in 2010 legislators cut $300 million annually from the public school budget and mandated tax caps to purposely ensure the destruction of public schools….Since the state controls the purse strings, Republican lawmakers have purposely bolted in place everything needed to start closing down Indiana schools and expanding for-profit charter schools.”

 

Martin shows how the overuse of standardized testing has benefited corporate politicians like Mitch Daniels. Not only do they stifle the critical thinking skills needed in a democratic society, not only do they send millions to testing corporations, but they demoralize and drive out good teachers. This too sets public schools up for failure.

 

One of the valuable aspects of Doug Martin’s book is his careful dissection of the sponsors of corporate reform in Indiana. A key player is called the Mind Trust, which Martin cites as an exemplar of “crony capitalism.” Martin writes:

 

“The Mind Trust typifies America’s counterfeit political Left. Mouthing the rhetoric of class warfare, civil rights, and female empowerment, the mock liberals at Education Sector, the Center for American Progress, and the New America Foundation, all supportive of the Mind Trust specifically or school privatization in general (and most bringing home six-figure salaries), attack teachers unions and public schools and connive to mount in place a school system based on corporate profit, one which disenfranchises the female teachers and minority and poor students they claim to be helping.”

 

Martin calls out the enablers of the school privatization movement, such as Eli Lilly and the Lilly Endowment, reliable funders of privatization activities, and of Teach for America and the New Teacher Project, which will recruit the temporary teachers needed for the charters. He cites the power of ALEC in the Indiana legislature, whose members pushed to evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores and to judge colleges of education by the test scores of students taught by their graduates. He provides overviews of the anti-teacher, anti-union, privatization agenda of Stand for Children, DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), the Christian right, the Bradley Foundation, the DeVos family of Michigan, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which promotes charters and vouchers.

 

Martin doesn’t offer any suggestions about how to combat the well-funded, interconnected organizations that are advancing the privatization agenda. His book contains valuable information about the privatization movement, its goals, its major players, and its strategies. He leaves it to voters to figure out how to save public education in Indiana.

 

Whether or not you live in Indiana, you should read this book. The major players like DFER and BAEO operate nationally. The activities in Indiana follow a script that is being enacted in many states, probably including yours.

 

Hoosier School Heist is listed on amazon.com, or you can obtain a copy by going to the website http://www.hoosierschoolheist.com.

According to those who were there, about 1,000 parents, educators, and other citizens packed the statehouse in Indianapolis to let the Governor and Legislature know that they support State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and they don’t want their 1.3 million votes for her to be nullified by petty politics.

 

Here is a video and text from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

 

Here is Cathy Fuentes Rohwer speaking to the crowd in a riotous speech that had everyone cheering. Cathy wrote a passionate letter that ran on this blog. Cathy said what every teacher and parent knows: “My child is not college-and-career-ready because he is a child!” She also said: “Standards don’t educate children, teachers do!”

 

Here is the text of her great speech. “We can’t afford a three-tiered system of charters, vouchers, and public. We tried segregation and it didn’t work.”

 

Here is the video of Phyllis Bush’s wonderful speech.

 

And if you want even more, here are articles about the rally:

 

http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/02/16/photos-ritz-supporters-rally-at-statehouse/#.VOj8jkK4mCR

 

http://www.journalgazette.net/…/Disdain-shown-for-Repub…

 

http://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/statehouse-rally-supports-ritz-slams-gop/article_a7487dc5-457a-5c62-a06b-5c2a31acc6d4.html

 

http://thestatehousefile.com/supporters-rally-superintendent-ritz-public-education/20256/

 

http://wishtv.com/2015/02/16/teachers-parents-rally-for-ritz/

 

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/16/ritz-declares-teacher-rally-know-need/23515403/

 

http://www.wthr.com/story/28117025/statehouse-rally-today-to-support-superintendent-ritz

 

http://www.idsnews.com/article/2015/02/rally-for-ritz-to-take-place-in-indy-today

 

http://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/rally-for-ritz-packs-the-statehouse

 

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/news/opinion/our-opinion-does-the-fight-over-hoosier-education-policy-have/article_56a45910-76c8-5e70-b048-8a49a4a54150.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a smart editorial, Karen Francisco of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette remembers an earlier election when voters chose between an educator and a political figure.

 

The voters in the early 1990s chose the educator, just as they did in 2012, when they overwhelmingly elected Glenda Ritz.

 

Now the politicians are gathering like a wolf pack to take away the office and its powers, perhaps because she is an educator.

 

Who should lead our schools as state superintendent? The people of Indiana have spoken, but the powers-that-be in Indianapolis are not listening.

 

Rocky Killion is an amazing superintendent in West Lafayette, Indiana. To begin with, he produced a wonderful documentary about the assault on public education, called “Rise Above the Mark.” You can go to the website to find out how to order a copy to show in your community (it is also for sale on amazon.com). He is very critical of the testing-gone-wild culture that has been foisted on public schools in Indiana and across the nation. He is very sensitive to the damage done to education, to children, and to teachers. His colleagues named him Indiana’s Superintendent of the Year for 2015.

 

Now he is furious because the computers that give the state test–the ISTEP–froze during a practice run. That was just too much.

 

“It’s inhumane what we are doing to the kids, what we are doing to the educational environment, we lost so much instructional time today, it’s ridiculous,” Killion told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis on Feb. 12, after computers froze during a dry run for ISTEP last week.

 

The Superintendent of the Year for 2015, as named by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, followed it with this: “I would prefer all of my students’ parents withdraw and become home-schooled during ISTEP, and then we can re-enroll them…..

 

Killion wasn’t backing away this week.

He repeated the same advice Monday during a visit to West Side schools from Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction. (Ritz didn’t jump on board, instead calling on parents get their kids ready for ISTEP days.)

And on Tuesday, Killion clarified the statement, saying he wasn’t necessarily advocating the withdraw/home-school/re-enroll plan.

“Since there’s no legislative mechanism, that’s the only opt-out workaround that I know to tell parents,” Killion said. “Typically, when I’m asked a question, I try to come up with the correct answer, and that’s what’s happened in this case.”

 

The journalist writing the column is critical of Killion and so is this legislator:

 

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, wasn’t pleased to hear a superintendent “encouraging people to willfully thwart (the) system.”

 

“It’s just the latest episode in his series of irresponsible and provocative comments that bear little to no relevance to the school system he’s supposed to be leading,” Hershman said Tuesday, a day when the Senate was dealing with a bill that would strip some of Ritz’s authority and a resolution to shorten ISTEP that had doubled in length since last year.

 

“I think we test too much, and the ISTEP is not perfect, but testing is required under federal and state law,” Hershman said. “His comments represent a flawed example of leadership in education policy.”

 

Killion’s answer: “The only thing I’ve said is what I said in the interview when a reporter asked me how can parents opt out of ISTEP. That’s the only thing I’ve done.”

 

Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” 

 

Welcome to the honor roll, Rocky Killion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This afternoon many educators and friends of public education gathered to show their support for Glenda Ritz in Indianapolis. Ritz, as you know, is trying to do her job as state superintendent while Governor Mike Pence is undercutting her at every turn and trying to nullify her election in 2012. She won more votes than Pence. This has to bother him.

Here is a first-hand account of the rally:

“I heard on the 6 pm news that it was “hundreds” but I am pretty sure it was near a thousand. I shared an elevator in parking garage with a group of teachers and one of them had spoken to a security person (we had to be metal detected one at a time as we entered the state house with our coats off and belongings scanned like airport…I had to be wanded and lift my pants legs to show my shoes) who told her it was just over 1000. I think that was what I would have guessed…maybe 900. Some of those could have been there for other business but the atrium was packed, as many standing as seated and up the stairs and around the balconies during the 2 hours of speaking.

“Glenda opened her office after she spoke and greeted all who entered and posed for pictures. I was touched by the college students who were there and obviously they were impressed to be there and so excited to pose with Glenda.

“The cheering and chanting were quite loud at times and the speakers well received. I lost count but 10-12 speeches were given. My favorite was Cathy Fuentes Rawher, an Indiana parent whose “rant” was posted last week in this blog. I saw children as young as two and elders who looked near 80. I saw school buses as well as motor coaches delivering folks.

“We had a couple of inches of snow early this morning and the southern part of the state got 6-7 inches and wind chills were an issue. I think it was an impressive turnout considering the bad weather and that many schools were making up days missed due to snow. The legislators were meeting and we were LOUD!”

This afternoon, hundreds of supporters of Glenda Ritz turned out at a rally in Indianapolis to show their support for the embattled superintendent of Indiana public schools. Governor Mike Pence and his allies in the legislature have been trying to strip away the powers of her office, even though she was elected by more voters in 2012 than Governor Mike Pence.

 

1.3 million voters chose her over the Republican reform idol Tony Bennett, then superintendent of the state. Since then, the governor and legislature have waged constant war on Ritz, either because she is a Democrat or because she is a woman or because they fear her ability to win votes, or all three.

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