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From: Rose Maudlin
Received: Oct. 22
Ms. Weidenbener’s recommendation (The Republic, Oct. 20) that the public discuss the role of the state superintendent of education is timely, indeed.
Public educators concur with her assertion that Republicans have been working since Glenda Ritz’s election to undermine her authority and her mission to “build an education system of equity and high quality focused on student-centered accountability.” The 1.3 million votes cast in last year’s election clearly rejected the top-down, corporate reform model that lacks transparency.
Last month Gov. Mike Pence created a new agency, the Center for Education and Career Innovation, which reports directly to him.
The General Assembly moved the State Board of Education’s funding out of the superintendent’s budget to support this new agency and proposes hiring 16 additional employees, four of whose salaries alone cost $450,000. The new council is slated to receive $5 million in funds this year and $9 million in 2015, yet the state budgets continue to provide no resources to provide training and support to public school teachers.
Last Friday the 10 Pence-
appointed State Board of Education members sent a letter to House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long complaining that Ritz was delaying release of the 2012-13 A-F school grades. The writers did not send the letter to Ritz, who has kept the board members informed regularly at the state board meetings on the progress of the A-F grade system analysis. Instead, she learned of the letter via the news media.
The analysis has been delayed by the recent statewide electronic testing failures and by the rescoring conducted by the CTB McGraw Hill testing company whose announced timeline indicated that it will provide the report in November. Public school educators remember Tony Bennett’s delay last year of the delivery of the scores as he manipulated the Christel De Haan’s charter school grade from a C to an A by removing its poor high school test results from the equation. It should be noted that De Haan had contributed $130,000 to Bennett’s campaign fund. The Legislature itself mandated last April that Bennett’s system be overhauled.
Is it the intent of the A-F grade system to help schools improve or is it to devalue community schools arbitrarily in order to privatize education with for-profit charter schools? If the intent is to improve the system, then why rush the work of the panel whose report is not due until November? Why not support Ritz’s creation of regional Outreach Centers where educators will receive support to improve their community schools?
Public school educators believe what Tom Brokaw stated well: “There is a place in America to take a stand: It is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny. ... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape.”
Hoosier voters sent a strong message by electing a career educator to lead the state’s educational initiatives. They expect their choice to be
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