Tony Lux, recently retired as superintendent of the Merrillville Community public schools, has written a blistering opinion article in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.
He says that it is time for all supporters of public education to unite and vote for legislators who support public education.
Despite the fact that the voters of the state of Indiana overwhelmingly ousted State Superintendent Tony Bennett, an advocate of privatization, his policies continue.
Glenda Ritz, running against Bennett, received more votes than Governor Mike Pence, yet Pence has used the powers of his office to cut down the power of Ritz and to push ever more profit-making into the schools.
The only way to stop the total destruction of public education in the great state of Indiana is to vote for legislators who will support public schools against the entrepreneurs, privatizers, and profiteers.
All public schools continue to be harmed financially [by Pence’s policies of privatization]. Tax caps and expanded tax reductions have reduced state income. Along with the continuing obsession for maintaining the golden grail of a $2 billion state surplus, these factors have resulted in declarations by the governor that there just isn’t any state money to appropriately increase school funding. Nevertheless, diversion of education tax dollars toward the proliferation of unproven charter schools and private school vouchers have reduced funding for all public schools.
The governor makes grand claims that Indiana lives within its means (despite tax income that is diminishing due to an array of continuing and expanding tax deductions), and that Indiana maintains strong reserves (through “reversions” that take money back from state programs that serve the public), while still making “investments in education.” These claims ring incredibly hollow and are transparently hypocritical to anyone close to public education (and other public services as well).
Supposedly, business tax breaks will bring new jobs. But those new jobs require better-skilled graduates. Only thriving public schools in our cities, towns, suburbs and farm communities will achieve those results. Charter schools have little evidence of success, and tax dollars for vouchers are being expanded to pay for already-successful students rather than to fund programs for underachieving students.
The state’s return on investment in these strategies is practically negligible in increasing the percentage of students at grade level and in increasing the college and career skills of our high school graduates.
Mel Hawkins of Indiana says the election of 2014 may be the most important ever for the future of public education in Indiana. Now is the time to step up and support those who will fund our public schools and oust those vandals who would destroy them and turn our children into profit centers.