Archives for category: Indiana

A few days ago I was interviewed for this podcast by Justin Oakley, whom I met last fall in Indianapolis. Justin gave me a wristband that says “Just Let Me Teach.”

 

We talked about the effort by Givernor Pence and the Legislature to crush State Superintendent Glenda Ritz. We speculated: is it because they want to destroy the only elected state official? Is it because she is a woman? Is it because she was elected by a bipartisan coalition and won more votes than Governor Pence?

 

Let’s apply Occam’s Razor, the logical principle that says one should look for the simplest, most obvious reason. It’s clear: Governor Pence is afraid of Ritz. She got more votes than he did. He has to smear her her and diminish her, even if it means nullifying her election. She might run against him and beat him.

 

Join the rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Monday to show your support for public education and Glenda Ritz!

Peter Greene and I are on the same page about Indiana. What is going on there has nothing to do with education, nothing to do with children, and everything to do with politics, power, and money.

 

Peter’s post, as usual, is brilliant. 

 

He writes:

 

In the modern era of education reform, each state has tried to create its own special brand of educational dysfunction. If the point of Common Core related reforms was to bring standardization to the country’s many and varied state systems, it has failed miserably by failing in fifty different ways.

 

What Indiana provides is an example of what happens when the political process completely overwhelms educational concerns. If there is anyone in the Indiana state capitol more worried about education students than in political maneuvering and political posturing, it’s not immediately evident who that person might be.

 

The current marquee conflagration of the moment is the announcement of a new Big Standardized Test that will take twelve hours to complete. This announcement has triggered a veritable stampede from responsibility, as every elected official in Indianapolis tries to put some air space between themselves and this testing disaster. And it brings up some of the underlying issues of the moment in Indiana.

 

Currently, all roads lead to Glenda Ritz.

 

Back before the fall of 2012, Indiana had become a reformster playground. They’d made early strides solving the puzzle of how to turn an entire urban school district over to privatizers, and they loved them some Common Core, too. Tony Bennett, buddy of Jeb Bush and big-time Chief for Change, was running the state’s education department just the way reformsters thought it should be done. And then came the 2012 election.

 

Bennett was the public face of Indiana education reform. He dumped a ton of money into the race. And he lost. Not just lost, but looooooooosssssssssst!!! As is frequently noted, Glenda Ritz was elected Superintendent for Public Instruction with more votes than Governor Mike Pence. I like this account of the fallout by Joy Resmovits mostly because it includes a quote from Mike Petrilli that I think captures well the reaction of reformsters when Bennett lost.

 

“Shit shit shit shit shit,” he said. “You can quote me on that.”

 

And it gets better. Read it.

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, a parent in Bloomington, Indiana, posted the following “rant” (as she calls it) on her Facebook page. She is one of the parents who is outraged by Governor Pence’s unrelenting attack on State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who was elected in 2012 with more votes than Governor Pence. She is a member of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. The great majority of parents—Democrats, Republicans, and independents–send their children to public schools, not to charters or voucher schools. They see clearly what the Governor and the Legislature are up to: the destruction of their community’s public schools. They know what is behind it: money, campaign contributions from private interests who will profit by the proliferation of for-profit charters. And they are furious that their votes for Ritz have been disregarded by Pence and his allies.

 

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer writes:

 

“Governor Pence has swooped down on his white horse and hat to right the wrongs of the ISTEP. You have got to be kidding me.

 
Fixed ISTEP?

 
Yes. The same way that dissolving his secondary department of education at the start of this session (CREATED BY HIS OWN EXECUTIVE ORDER WASTING MILLIONS OF OUR HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS) “FIXED” the troubles with Ritz and the SBOE.

 
Governor Pence has created both problems and then somehow gets credit for finding solutions. Heck, he doesn’t need his own state-run newspaper. He’s got a confused unaware citizenry.

 
It was the pressure of his constituency and that of the super majority that made them PASS A LAW TO STOP COMMON CORE AND CREATE NEW STATE STANDARDS. Yes, the feds require college and career ready standards. So give up the waiver already. Democrats, Republicans– these are corporate education reformers we are talking about and they are not doing ANY OF THIS FOR YOUR KIDS. It is all about the money.

 
Glenda Ritz put together new state standards by including as many of the players she could and being sure that she was including all of the many standards that the supermajority, SBOE and governor required of her. She and her staff wanted to ask for a halt to the accountability until they could roll out and test this assessment. This is our superintendent enacting THE POLICY SET BY THE GOVERNOR THE SBOE AND THE SUPERMAJORITY. (Yes, in line with the federal requirements. So drop the waiver already. Aren’t you so flipping proud of your surplus as others have pointed out).

 
But it’s not even about standards. There is NO RESEARCH that shows that standards educate children. I thought they salivated over data? SHOW ME THE DATA.

 
It’s about Chambers of commerce blaming teachers for not having kids “college and career ready for a global economy” while they and their corporate interests ship jobs overseas or avoid paying workers a living wage so the top tier can make more money. SHOW ME THE JOBS, INDIANA SUPERMAJORITY. Because these kids in public schools can sure as heck show you some jobless parents.

 
It’s about making money off of these exams that show that kids are failing and blaming the schools of education for creating these teachers who can’t get kids to test well. Let’s test the teachers to test the schools of education to prove that they, too are failing. Watch them open their virtual online academies of teacher preparedness training. OR, more profitable, let’s create more Teach for America unskilled well-meaning teachers to replace those union thugs.

 
It’s about a narrative that calls superintendents CEOs and views schools as businesses and education as a product and our kids.. widgets in a factory. Those unskilled laborers are creating a better product because of competition.

 
It’s about a message that claims that our public schools are failing. And the offer: MARKETS WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING.

 
It’s about ALEC (google ALEC and destroy public education) and the Friedman Foundation and creating a market. Choose your schools, privatize the system so the markets can improve everything. Try charters (where only engaged parents can transport kids and get on lotteries and no democratic accountability to the people exists because there is no voting for a board to run them and they are proven to be no better and no worse, but way way more open to corruption and harm for kids).

 

Try your voucher (then you don’t have to go to school with those kids. Except, of course in your private school doesn’t want to keep you or deems you a behavior problem).

 
Where these have existed, public schools have not improved. What of the kids in those schools?

 
Here’s the thing.

 
My child is not college and career ready because he is a child. A test does not begin to sum up what I want for him. I trust teachers. i believe in public education because I believe that every single child regardless of background should have the same opportunity to a free, high quality public education as it states in our Indiana constitution. I believe that accountability means:

 
Every child should have a school that has enough nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, gym teachers, art teachers, music teachers, librarians, small class sizes, electives, hands-on projects, science experiments, theater, band. Every child. But instead our schools are being strangled. They are jumping through hoops where every. single. thing. is. tied. to. a. score. And the purpose is money.

 
Tell you what:

 
Let’s privatize firefighters and police officers. They don’t get to houses in the inner cities or out in rural areas fast enough. Let’s see if competition improves things. Oh? That child in the meth trailer out in the county? Too bad. If his parents weren’t on drugs maybe they could have afforded to buy a house closer to the damn fire department.

 
No, you know what? I don’t ride the city bus. But my teens could use a new used car. Give me a voucher for the money for public transportation because the money should follow my child. I don’t like to touch the books at the library either, gimme my voucher for Barnes and Noble.

 
Ridiculous? Our ancestors would be appalled that we want to go back to the days where the children lie dying neglected in the streets.

 
Governor Pence and his friends at ALEC, the Koch brothers, don’t believe in democracy. They don’t believe in a government for the people, by the people and of the people. They don’t believe in democratically elected school boards and schools.

 
Glenda Ritz was in the way of a much bigger agenda. My child who has not yet lost his baby teeth is a pawn in a game that has taken away our local control, relegated our public school system to a circus act of jumping through testing hoops to please the ringmaster… who can bring the tent down at any time.

 
Fix the problem? Be rebellious, Indiana. Wake up and smell the fascism. You’ve got someone who gets his way by executive order and a supermajority with no checks and balances. The one dissent in the education policymaking just lost her major responsibilities–not by democratic vote, but by changing her position through statute.

 
Follow the money and you’ll find the motivations.

 
I hope the mama bears and papa bears, and yes, the Grandma and Grandpa Grizzlies will get mad enough to do something radical:

 
Vote. Until then, see you at the protests and rallies.”

 
-Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer

On Monday, there will be a mass rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to protest the assault on public education.

 

The rally will begin at 2 p.m.

 

Whether you are a parent, an educator, and/or a concerned citizen, please attend to show the Governor and the Legislature that you oppose the destruction of public education and the attacks on Indiana’s elected State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence and the Legislature have embarked on a radical scheme to privatize public education. Since State Superintendent Glenda Ritz stands in their way, they are passing legislation to strip her of all authority. A reader, anonymous, but using a moniker suggesting that he or she is a college professor, writes:

 

We cannot stop it — GOP Supermarjority wants to control schools — well, the funding of schools and privatize education based on “school failure.” Are you starting to see the pattern here? Only 37% of Hoosiers that could vote did vote in 2014. Young people? It was only 12%. Bloody red Indiana can do as it wants, and it wants to destroy public education. Property taxes are rising as the taxpayer is now supporting traditional schools and all its infrastructure, privately run public schools that take the money from traditional schools and charge high building rents and utilities, and then vouchers to all kinds of private schools — with little oversight. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, and the educated population — they are leaving the state in higher numbers. Poverty is around 16% but really is about 28% when considering the working poor; food stamps have doubled since 2009, and homeless persons have greatly increased in number. And, our governor thinks he can be President. Sounds like a real successful state, right?

Today, February 12, the Senate Education Committee voted to exempt voucher schools receiving public money from ISTEP, the state testing program. It was a straight party-line vote, 7-3. The voucher schools may take a test of their own choosing.

Here is a report from Vic Smith, who blogs about education and politics in Indiana:

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #201 – February 12, 2015

Put this bill in the category of “Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse for Public Education”!

Yesterday afternoon (Feb. 11th) the Senate Education Committee heard Senate Bill 470. It would allow private schools receiving vouchers to ignore ISTEP and to take instead “another nationally recognized and norm referenced assessment” of their own choice. The bill instructs the State Board to develop an A-F system just for the voucher schools taking alternate assessments.

Last year, a similar bill was quickly rejected by the committee because of the obvious reduction in accountability for voucher schools if they aren’t held to Indiana’s standards and assessed via ISTEP. This year, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill 7-3 on a party line vote.

Now we see why the State Board in House Bill 1486 wants to eliminate the current ban on using peer comparisons (norm referenced assessments) in the A-F growth metrics. It’s a complicated web they weave.

Governor Pence strongly endorsed the bill via his education policy director Chad Timmerman, who said that private schools should be able to “choose their own test.”

If anyone doubts that Governor Pence and the leaders of the General Assembly and State Board are favoring private schools over public schools in Indiana’s intense competitive marketplace of school choice, this bill should remove all doubts. The voucher program was sold in 2011 by promising that private schools would take ISTEP and would be measured like all public schools using the A-F system. Now just four years later the voucher schools want to change the rules but keep the money.

This bill would give private voucher schools a direct competitive advantage in the marketplace of school choice because they could attract parents who dislike excessive testing. Public schools would also like to reduce the excessive testing that the General Assembly and State Board have mandated, but this bill only relieves testing mandates for private voucher schools. My testimony on this bill is attached.

Imagine Schools is one of the nation’s largest for-profit charter chains. Its schools were closed down in St. Louis and in Georgia for poor performance, but the corporation is undeterred.

Problems continue, however, as Imagine’s business model doesn’t always pass muster.

Here is the latest, written in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette about Imagine’s legal troubles in Missouri:

“U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey ruled in December that Imagine Schools Inc. profited from a “double-dealing” lease scheme and that it must pay the local board of the now-closed Kansas City school nearly $1 million.

“The national charter school chain used its own finance company, Schoolhouse Finance, to sell Imagine Renaissance’s two campuses to obtain lower lease rates, according to the suit. While it benefited from the lower rate, it continued to collect taxpayer dollars through the local charter board at the higher rate.

“There is not evidence that Imagine Schools ever told any Renaissance board member how Imagine Schools would benefit from the leases,” the judge wrote.

“The Kansas City Star reported that Imagine Inc. did not appeal the ruling, as the company and the local charter board have reached a confidential settlement.

“The judge’s findings are remarkable for their parallels with the charter operator’s Fort Wayne experience. The company opened the city’s third charter school, Imagine MASTer Academy, at the former YWCA campus on North Wells Street in 2006. Oversight was supposedly provided by the Imagine-Fort Wayne Charter School Inc., a local board once headed by businessman Don Willis, but the board came under fire from its authorizer, Ball State University, for lax oversight.

“Imagine’s local real estate dealings were complex from the start. The YWCA campus was purchased in 2006 by North Wells Schoolhouse LLC, an Indiana company with the same Arlington, Va., mailing address as the for-profit Imagine Schools Inc. The sale price was $2.9 million. The local Imagine school board then subleased a portion of the campus from Schoolhouse Finance, Imagine Inc.’s real estate subsidiary. Schoolhouse, in turn, sold the property to JERIT CS Fund, a wholly owned subsidiary of Entertainment Properties Trust, a Kansas City-based real estate investment trust. The same company owned the Kansas City school at the heart of the lawsuit.

“The REIT, in fact, still lists the North Wells campus among its charter school real estate holdings, although Imagine MASTer Academy – threatened with closing by Ball State – relinquished its charter and reopened as Horizon Christian Academy. Three Fort Wayne Horizon schools collected nearly $2 million in tax-funded vouchers from Indiana last year. An Imagine spokesman said at the time of the switch that Horizon would pay Imagine for operation and facility support under terms of a private agreement. About $3.6 million in state loans made to Imagine were forgiven.”

Funny. Usually you need educators to figure out what went wrong. In the case of for-profit charter chains, you need an accountant and several lawyers.

The editorialist in Fort Wayne noted that this is a cautionary tale that was not told during National School Choice Week.

Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature plans to strip State Superintendent Glenda Ritz of her powers toreros. She was overwhelmingly elected by the voters, receiving more votes than Gov. Pence.

Protest this assault on democracy!

There will be a Twitter storm this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST.

The vote on HB 1609 to strip Superintendent Glenda Ritz is going to happen at 1:30 tomorrow. The hashtag to use is ‪#‎iStandWithRitz‬

@GovPenceIN
@INHouseGOP

4:00 pm EST the TwitterStorm begins. Tweet as much as you can until 5:00 pm EST.

Removing Glenda Ritz as Chair of the SBOE is not acceptable!

You can send the messages again and again, as long as you change one character, period or something, so Twitter sees it as a unique tweet. If you send the same message, you will get a notification that you’ve already sent that tweet.

Tweets: (feel free to add on to this list, so we can help each other) Then at 4:00, copy each one and paste it and/or create your own tweets

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP CECI & SBOE caused the dysfunction, not Ritz # ‪#‎iStandWithRitz‬

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Glenda Ritz is more than a librarian

#iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP You can gerrymander our votes, but you can’t gerrymander our voices

#iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Stand in the way of the 1.3 million voters voted for Ritz at your own peril

#iStandWithRitz

@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP

Welcome to indiana where our votes don’t count & ethics don’t matter #iStandWithRitz

.@GovPenceIN@INHouseGOP Don’t mess with Glenda #iStandWithRitz

@GovPenceIN @INHouseGOP @IndyStar @nwtimes Ritz is against the high stakes in tests. #iStandWithRitz

@WishTV Ritz stands for kids against high stakes madness #iStandWithRitz

Please feel free to email elected representatives in the Indiana legislature if you agree that testing has become the monster that ate education. Does it make sense for children in third and fourth grade to sit for 19-20 hours of testing?

Required testing time:

SAT-3 hours 45 minutes
ACT-3 hours 30 minutes
Indiana BAR-13 hours

ISTEP- 3rd grade:18 hours
4th grade:20 hours 10 minutes
5th grade:19 hours 42 minutes
6th grade:19 hours 55 minutes

To: Sue Errington , Rhonda Rhoades , Jeff Thompson , Jim Lucas , Lloyd Arnold , Vernon Smith , Robert Behning , Edward Clere , Woody Burton , Tony Cook , Dale Devon

, William Fine , Justin Moed , Terri Austin , Senator Earline Rogers , Mrvan , Senator Jean Leising , Senator Carlin Yoder , Chip Perfect , Dennis Kruse , Senator Scott Schneider , Senator Pete Miller , Senator Jeff Ratz , Senator Mark Stoops , Amanda Jim Banks , Eric Bassler , Greg Walker , goodinterry@netscape.net, Senator Tomes , Senator Alting , Brent Waltz , Senator Brent Steele , Eric Koch , Sean Eberhart , “judmcmillin@yahoo.com” , Randy Truitt , Gregory Porter , Tom Dermody , Governor’s Office , Head , Kenley , Speaker Brian Bosma , Dave Frizzel
Subject: This year’s ISTEP

Required testing time:

SAT-3 hours 45 minutes
ACT-3 hours 30 minutes
Indiana BAR-13 hours

ISTEP- 3rd grade:18 hours
4th grade:20 hours 10 minutes
5th grade:19 hours 42 minutes
6th grade:19 hours 55 minutes

In what universe does this seem even remotely to be a good idea?

Indiana may be a textbook example of legislative meddling in education. Every legislator went to school (presumably), so they all know how to solve education problems. Certainly, they would not allow educators to be involved in such weighty matters!

 

At the top of their agenda is their determination to eliminate State Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s job, even though she still has the title. They seem sure to pass bills that removes all authority from her elected position and transfers it to the state board of education, which was appointed by Governor Mike Pence. They are also intent on passing legislation to cripple teachers’ unions. Although they repealed the Common Core adoption in the last session, they have not yet decided what to do about new standards and assessments. This would normally be an issue that would be resolved by the State Superintendent and the Department of Education, but the Indiana legislature has decided to make these decisions by themselves.

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