"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, August 26, 2011

Indiana DOE Gives Public Schools Away

The Indiana State Department of Education proposed that the state take over four high schools and one middle school in Gary and Indianapolis. By "state takeover" the DOE means that the schools will be run by private companies and eventually become charters. The superintendent of Indianapolis schools has threatened a lawsuit.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said he had mixed emotions in asking the State Board of Education to approve the takeover of a Gary high school and three Indianapolis high schools and a middle school. But he said the step is necessary for the students’ sake. The schools have been on academic probation for five years because of poor test scores.

“This is not about blame, this is about the future,” Bennett said at a news conference in Indianapolis. “Our intent is to use everything we have in this state to restore these schools to what they should be for the students in these communities.”
The state intends to use "everything" they have for the schools? Does that include restoring the funding cuts passed by the legislature and signed by the governor? Do we have to go through the list again? Superintendent Bennett, Governor Daniels, State School Board...listen carefully please:

1. Test scores should not determine the success or failure of a school, but if you're going to use test scores remember that the most reliable determiner of test success is family income. It's poverty -- a failed society, a failed economy...not a failed school.

2. Charter schools do NOT perform better than regular public schools.

3. Replacing staffs and administrators does not improve schools.

May I suggest that the state follow the lead of the world's education leaders, Finland for example. Reduce our poverty level to that of Finland's (or most of the other industrialized nations of the world) and we will have solved the main problem.

When students in Finnish schools have academic problems are the schools closed? Are the teachers fired? Are the unions dismantled? Are the administrators shuffled? No. The students are given more support. The schools are given more support. Teachers who are having trouble are given support. When they need help they are helped. The entire system benefits.

Are we serious about helping students or are we just manipulating the system to increase privatization of our school system?

In Indiana this year, the legislature passed laws which include a voucher program, increased charters and various things to weaken teachers and their unions, none of which help students and most of which suck money away from the public schools and into the coffers of private corporations or parochial schools.

In 'Comprehensive' school reform? Not without preschool, Karen Francisco, a blogger for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette wrote;
...charter school supporters got what they wanted by keeping quiet about the millions in public school support being siphoned off to parochial schools through vouchers.
She was speaking about the fact that Indiana doesn't do a very good job of supporting preschools, another proven method of helping students, and the charters, private and parochial schools are going to have to deal with children who come to school with deficits...just like the traditional public schools.

The point is, however, that closing schools, busting unions, and pushing vouchers and charters is not about student success. It's about taking the schools of Indiana (and elsewhere) out of the hands of the public and putting them into the hands of corporate "reformers."

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