Thursday, May 17, 2012

Open Letter to Indiana's Select Commission on Education

This letter to the members of Indiana's Select Commission on Education was written by Paul Obermeyer, a businessman and lifelong resident of Indiana. Both his wife and daughter teach in the public schools.
General Education Concerns State of Indiana and the Select Commission on Education

I have been following the Legislation of Public Schools and the recent laws passed by the Republican Administration the past several years and am very concerned about the future to come for education in this State. Yesterday, as I celebrated Mother’s Day with my wife and family (my daughter and wife both teach) we had a family discussion of just how unappreciated teachers are. It is our opinion, that Governor Daniels, Dr. Tony Bennett and the Director of Budget, Adam Horst, as well as the Republican Party and the State of Indiana have turned their backs on the teaching profession. Today, I noticed that the Department of Education has made available a video on how much Hoosiers appreciate Teachers. Excuse me for being just a bit cynical…but how have the recent funding decisions and legislation been supportive of teachers?

Teachers today are expected to do more than teach and are faced with social problems never before confronted in the classroom. Governor Daniels and Dr. Bennett worked “in concert” and made certain that every parent and student were given a pass for their performance in the classroom, spending over two years working to undermine the integrity of Public School Teachers. Recent legislation which gutted the ISTA and teachers’ rights, as well as their voice in the classroom, did so much damage to the morale of the profession, it may never be undone. As a leader within a business, I feel the Department of Education has LOST the support of the people they need most…the teachers. If you run a business, and I don’t care what kind of business, you must make the employees feel important and give them a voice in the process. The Department of Education has NOT done that, and, even more, has attacked the teachers and penalized their efforts. A good coach does not ruin the morale of the team…they must instill confidence and faith. WE did just the opposite…WE destroyed the profession. Time will prove this out. We will start to see fewer people seeking to be educators. (This is already happening.) Imagine four years of college and ongoing classes to be a licensed teacher, just to take a starting job paying about $12.00 per hour. Couple that with other facts, such as; extreme scrutiny and ongoing evaluations, reduced benefits, longer school years, working more and more hours of your own time on lesson plans and grading papers, no pay increases (FACT THAT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED), no job security and getting thrown under the bus by legislators who want to solve the problem of education on the cheap, doing so through dirty party politics.

Does the Department of Education feel that this video will repair the damage done to the people you need most… the teachers? I can tell you the answer is that it probably will not. There is an old saying that “Talk is Cheap” and nothing proves that more than this type of propaganda.

I am sorry to say that after 57 years as a resident of the State of Indiana I have never been more embarrassed by the actions of those in charge. The path of destruction to the educational system in this State, to achieve some needed changes, has been horrific. Why did we have to throw out the baby with the bath water? Changes, if properly administered, could have achieved the same goals without all of the personal damage and destruction to the morale of the teachers and educators in this State! Use of the whip has been far more frequent than use of the carrot. I know for a fact that my sentiments are more aligned with the majority of the educators in this State and their morale is at rock bottom. I am glad to see that someone must have recognized this and through this video is attempting to communicate a positive message, but remember, “talk is cheap”!

Sincerely Submitted,

Paul R. Obermeyer
You might also be interested in:

Another Parent letter to Indiana Select Commission on Education

The next Select Commission on Education meeting will be held Monday, May 21. Click HERE for the agenda and past minutes.


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