Archives for category: Indiana

Russ Pulliam of the Indystar makes a startling admission: Charter schools in Indiana are mostly low-performing schools. Instead of “saving poor children from failing public schools,” most charters are low-performing.

Pulliam tells the story of Tim Ehrgott, who “was zealous for education reform in the early years.” He worked with Pat Rooney, a businessman who fought for vouchers and created a private scholarship program. He helped build the charter movement and founded his own charter. Now Ehrgott thinks it’s time to crack down on poorly performing charters. Today, Infiana has one of the largest voucher to grams in the nation.

Ehrgott has been schooled by reality.

Ehrgott doesn’t see the overall success that was promised. “Charters in the D-F range should be closed immediately. Those in the C range should not be automatically renewed,” he said. “Produce superior results or be closed.”

“More than half the charters, he added, are getting D or F. “Even when you standardize the results for at risk factors, charters are failing at twice the rate of traditional public schools.”

The hype, spin, and empty promises of the charter movement have run their course. Teach for America’s claims that its inexperienced kids could close the achievement gap are obviously hollow. Chris Barbic’s Achievement School District in Tennessee is a failure. The chickens are coming home to roost. You can’t fool all the people all the time.

Doug Martin reports that Governor Mike Pence is attracting major campaign contributions from the fabulously wealthy circle of friends allied with the Koch Brothers.


Martin writes:


On June 25, just one day after the governor wrote a letter to president Obama saying Indiana would not comply with proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules against greenhouse omissions, Mike Pence’s campaign received a $10,000 gift from Marvin Gilliam of Bristol, Virginia.


Gilliam is the former VP of what was once one of the largest coal producers in America, Cumberland Resources, which was purchased by Massey Energy in 2010.


In 2013, Gilliam and Koch Industries, along with other wealthy donors, financed the gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a longtime Republican and anti-LGBT climate denier who “used his position to launch an inquisition against a former University of Virginia climate scientist.”


By funding Pence, the Koch Ring knows they will have a steady far-right ally, who will join them in denying climate change, in promoting the privatization of public education, and in their other radical schemes.


Pence will face a strong challenge from State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz. In 2012, she beat rightwing hero Tony Bennett and won more votes than Pence.


The question for Indiana is whether its people are prepared to fight for their state or to hand it over to the corporate elites.


By the way, if you have not read Doug Martin’s Hoosier School Heist, you should. It is a well-documented report on the corporate takeover of Hoosier public schools by profiteers.



The latest poll shows that most Hoosiers want a new governor. 54% want a new governor. Less than a third say they want to re-elect Pence.

Two issues loom over Pence. One was his early support (and then retraction) for a bill that would have allowed people to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation (it was only when major corporations threatened to leave Indiana that Pence changed his views on the bill). The other is education, where Pence has continued hhis predecessor Mitch Daniels’ agenda of privatizing public education.

Go, Hoosiers! Get a new governor who cares about children, public schools, and the future of Indiana and the nation!

A last-minute deal to create a loan program for charters has raised questions in Indiana, since charters already have heavy debts.

“In the final days of this year’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers dropped into the massive state budget bill a provision giving charter schools access to $50 million in low-interest state loans.

“The measure was a last-minute effort to appease Gov. Mike Pence, who had sought more funding for charter schools, and it received virtually no public scrutiny.

“Now some critics — including the Senate’s chief budget writer — are sounding an alarm about the new program, given the significant debt of many charter schools.

“The main concern: Who will be on the hook if charter schools don’t repay the loans?”

The usual answer: the taxpayers of Indiana.

“In 2013, the state forgave and paid off more than $90 million in charter school loans. The move drew protests from traditional public schools whose loans were not forgiven and consequently charter schools were no longer given access to the loan money.

“Kenley said Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma plan to do the same thing again with the new loan program — an assertion that neither denied outright.

“It’s always a possibility in the future,” Bosma said.

Watch Glenda Ritz announce for Governor of Indiana. Now we know why Governor Pence has worked so hard to grind her down.

Go, Glenda, go!

Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the College of Education at Indiana University, wrote a letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star agreeing with the dean of the College of Education at Purdue: Indiana is on track for an education disaster because of the policies enacted by the legislature at the behest of former Governor Mitch Daniels (now president of Purdue) and continued by his success Mike Pence.


He wrote:


Indiana’s downward trend in education enrollments can be traced directly to the policies promoted under then-Gov. Daniels and Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett. Between 2000 and 2012 constant-dollar teacher salaries in Indiana decreased by 10 percent, outpaced nationally only by North Carolina’s 14 percent decrease.


At the same time, the wrong-headed Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability policies promoted by Daniels and Bennett increased regulation of education schools and licensure requirements for teacher education students while lowering standards of preparation for nontraditional teacher prep programs. Coupled with the equally flawed testing and test-based teacher evaluation policies implemented in the state, these rules have driven out experienced, effective teachers while discouraging new teachers from entering the field.


Unless Indiana changes course, its public education system is headed for disaster. Already teacher shortages are being felt across the board, not just in traditional shortage areas.


It is wonderful to see education leaders speaking out fearlessly and telling the truth. Indiana’s leaders have led education to a precipice. Will the electorate permit them to continue destroying public education and higher education?

Purdue’s dean of education Maryann Santos de Barona bluntly described the pernicious effects of “reform” on enrollment in the College of Education, as Purdue President Mitch Daniels listened quietly. As Governor of Indiana, Daniels was responsible for the “reforms” she was describing.



Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of Purdue University’s College of Education for the past six years, was at the front of a Stewart Center meeting room May 14 for one of those death-by-PowerPoint presentations. From among her dozens of slides, the dean was showing the university’s trustees a sinking trend line of undergraduates enrolled in Purdue’s teacher education program.


At the other end of a conference table, one big enough to seat 10 trustees and assorted support staff, was Mitch Daniels. The Purdue president fidgeted as his education dean unflinchingly laid out her hypotheses for why students were avoiding careers in elementary and secondary education, as well as why test-weary schools were increasingly reluctant to experiment with Purdue-developed curriculum.


Wait, you know where this one is going, right? Probably so.


But it still was stunningly awkward, as the dean heaped so much of the blame at the feet of her boss, without calling him out by name. She didn’t have to. Not a person in the room — probably not in the state — was unfamiliar with Daniels’ role for clearing the way for education reform in Indiana in his previous life as a two-term Republican governor.


“What is happening in (pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade) education, in legislative bodies and in governmental offices, affects our enrollment, our course offerings and our administrative responsibilities,” Santos de Barona said during an annual update for the trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee.


“Our profession is at a critical juncture,” she said. “The pervasive negativity about the teaching profession, and the misconception that education is broken, has resulted in increased pressures on practicing teachers. As a result, they are less likely to want to mentor our student teachers — and have less time to do so. Teachers and administrators are reluctant to let our faculty research in their classrooms, as this represents a risk that might impact test scores.”


Santos de Barona said undergraduate enrollment in the College of Education is down 33 percent since 2010, even as recruitment efforts have been ramped up to interest high school seniors across Indiana and students looking into changing majors once on campus. (Graduate student enrollment at the education college is up 32 percent during the same time. “We saw this coming and diversified our portfolio,” Santos de Barona said after the meeting.)


Santos de Barona told the trustees that Purdue wasn’t alone in this — that it was a national issue. One example: Ball State University, once called Ball State Teachers College, has seen a 45 percent drop in undergraduates in its elementary and kindergarten prep programs in the past decade.


Santos de Barona didn’t specifically mention it, but the trend at Purdue tracks the timeline of education reform in Indiana, when teachers’ bargaining power was busted, scores on standardized tests were tied more closely to pay raises and to overall A-to-F grades for schools, and the introduction and expansion of a private school voucher system sold on the idea that there had to be something better than what public schools could provide.


How refreshing that the dean brought the terrible consequences of the Governor’s actions to his face and let him know that he is responsible for a catastrophic decline in the number of young people entering the teaching profession. Being a reformster means you are never held accountable for your actions. Former Governor Mitch Daniels was confronted with the facts. Wonder what he heard? Or did he just tune out his dean?



Yes, as readers have suggested, Dean Barona belongs on the blog’s honor roll for speaking truth to power.

Glenda Ritz will be making an announcement on June 5th at 11:00 a.m. that is running for Governor.

She will make the announcement at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne.

Glenda is state superintendent of education in Indiana. She defeated reformster Tony Bennett in 2012, despite a 10-1 funding advantage for Bennett. Tony Bennett was chairman of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, the reformy organization of state chiefs who favor vouchers, charters, high-stakes testing, and digital learning. After his defeat, Bennett was immediately hired to be state superintendent in Florida. (Can anyone spell Jeb Bush?) But he resigned that position after a news story revealed that he and his aides had manipulated the school grades to favor a charter school founded by a major contributor to his campaign.

In 2012, Glenda received more votes than Governor Mike Pence. Pence must have been afraid she would run against him, because he has spent the last three years undermining her, whittling away the powers of her office, transferring her authority to an agency he created or to the state board, which he appoints.

Glenda Ritz would be a great governor for 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!


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