Thursday, January 2, 2014

Letters: Another education agency — is this efficient government?

Last Fall NEIFPE member Lucy Hess wrote this letter about the duplication of state education agencies...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 12:01 am

Imagine the surprise to learn that Gov. Pence established yet another education agency that seems to duplicate the tasks assigned to other government councils, roundtables, commissions or departments that focus on education. The group includes: the Indiana Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Indiana Education Roundtable, the Commission for Higher Education, two new councils (the Indiana Works Council and the Indiana Career Council) requested by Pence and approved by the general assembly this past year, and the new Center for Education and Career Innovation.

That’s seven agencies to focus on education, three of which are new within this past year.

As a taxpayer and retired educator I have to ask why so many? One reason, of course, is that our governor, state legislature and citizens are focused on providing the best education possible for our children. But do we need seven?

Another reason could be that we are in the midst of education reform. When asked about the new Center for Education and Career Innovation during a group phone conference with Anne Davis, the new State Board of Education director, she explained that the new center would be the hub to coordinate and focus the work of the other groups.

Why do we need another “hub” when we have the Department of Education with an elected superintendent? The other groups are appointed positions. When there are so many state entities (remember three are new this year) directed to study, improve and make education policy, communication between groups and their accomplishments for students are likely to be less than desirable.

As Leslie Widenbener concluded in an Aug. 25 article in the Louisville Courier-Journal, “The resulting system, though, is so convoluted it seems impossible to know who’s responsible for what and whom to hold accountable for student outcomes. And that’s a problem.”

Indeed it is. Indiana citizens should take notice, be concerned and demand better use of our tax dollars. We should insist on more transparent leadership and policy for the education of our children. We should let our elected Superintendent Glenda Ritz do her job.

Lucy Hess, Fort Wayne

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