The far-rightwing organization ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Coucil) owns the state of Indiana. ALEC is determined to crush public education. Check out ALEC exposed, a website that show the ALEC agenda for charters, vouchers, and state takeovers. ALEC hates democracy and local control. It hates local school boards, because they interfere with privatization. In Indiana, with Mitch Daniels as governor, then Mike Pence, ALEC got carte blanche.

Bear in mind that state takeovers have been tried many times and always failed.

I received the following update from Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, parent activist.

“Here at the epicenter of education reform (I suppose every state thinks his/hers is the epicenter–but we do have the distinction of having a model on the ALEC website: Indiana Reform Package), our state legislature is poised to begin state takeover of Gary and now, Muncie.

“Muncie’s parents are reeling from this news. The state legislature was already planning a takeover of Gary’s public schools as they are $100 million in debt (gulp!) and, as I understand it, Gary was asking for this. But no elected official from Muncie requested this—they just slipped them into the bill.

“The economic and educational policies of Indiana have hurt Muncie particularly hard. The property tax caps have had the hardest hits on cities like theirs (this was from 2016: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/muncie-community-schools-broke-face-115m-budget-shortfall and this from last month: http://indianapublicradio.org/news/2017/03/muncie-community-schools-changes-bus-service-will-apply-for-state-loan/). Although Indiana no longer funds their public schools through property taxes, I believe transportation is part of that and Muncie can no longer afford busing. They were asking teachers to take a 23% pay cut which failed in court! http://www.wthr.com/article/state-rules-in-favor-of-muncie-teachers-association-in-dispute-with-school-district

“In addition to tax caps, the educational reforms have had a dire effect on their schools. In the past four years, Muncie Community Schools have lost $2.5 million to vouchers going to private schools. I am also told that the students transferring out of the city schools into the surrounding smaller community schools –“school choice” in action (taking their per pupil funding) has also led to further bleeding of funds. It’s also clear that there have been some misdeeds on the part of their school board or financial officer (or both) and so some of the community members think that maybe it will be a GOOD thing for the state to take over. I shudder at the thought. I myself grew up in Michigan and went to Kindergarten in Detroit. If ever there were a cautionary tale…

“But regardless of how they got into these financial straits, the state is now setting up to take over the academics as well. All without the okay from the community, local elected legislators or community leaders. In fact, the mayor was quite harsh in response to their financial woes earlier this year: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2017/03/06/mayor-blasts-state-over-city-school-crisis/98809108/

Here is an overview of the takeover:

http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/education/2017/04/05/house-supports-state-takeover-mcs/100064346/

“And this:

http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/2017/04/03/legislators-muncie-schools-district-opposition/

http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/education/2017/04/02/state-takeover-muncie-schools-proposed/99954928/

“I’m hoping that more people in Indiana can become aware and contact their legislators to talk about how wrong-minded state takeover is! Solutions to public school problems are certainly complex, but people just don’t seem to understand that giving up local democratic control is not the answer and makes fertile ground for people who can profit off of this situation: charters, vouchers, charter management companies.

“You would like to think that when children drank poisoned water in Flint, the connection between privatization and state takeover of local municipalities would have been made across the country. Yes, you saved money–but look at the cost to children.

“Unfortunately, folks struggle to connect the dots. I fear for not just Muncie, but other school districts that our paternalistic legislators might decide to take over next.

“This is also taking place in a legislative session in which they are taking democracy away from us as a state by changing the state superintendent of public instruction (formerly held by Glenda Ritz) from elected position to an appointed one. Because we can’t even be trusted with that pesky thing called a vote when it comes to education?”

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer