Friday, February 7, 2014

Letters: Voters Need to Push Back

NEIFPE Co-founder Phyllis Bush wrote this letter to the editor.
Voters need to push back against Indiana's education reforms

Friday, February 7, 2014 - 12:01 am

A few months ago I wrote an op-ed about how we need to find common ground in order to find the common good.

However, some of the Indiana legislation that is being moved forward at breakneck speed shows that a few of our legislators do not feel as though they need to find common ground. The whack-a-mole strategy of the super majority makes it appear as though the more odious bills they present, the easier it is to distract the public from what they are really doing.

So far the intent of these bills appears to be rather dubious: to further devastate and diminish public schools through more voucher expansion, to share student data through an agency other than the Department of Education and to undermine the authority of Superintendent Ritz.

For example, HB 1004 is being presented as an answer to early childhood education, and who could object to that? However, when I read between the lines, this bill appears to be another not-so-stealthy voucher expansion plan.

Of course, I realize that many of the legislators who approved this bill did so with the best intent, but until the state fully funds all-day kindergarten, have they considered the unintended consequences of yet another unfunded mandate?

Another bill currently on the table is HB 1320. If passed into law, it will probably hand another $3.7 million of our tax dollars to a private company that will sell off personal and confidential information of students and families to companies out to market their products and agenda to them.

As if these two bills were not enough to be outraged about, Gov. Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation for the apparent purpose of further undermining the authority of the Department of Education. When public education is already cash-strapped, why in the world do we need another agency to duplicate one that we already have?

This constant assault on public education makes me sad and weary. I am so tired of fighting for something that is so fundamental that it should not call for a fight. Public schools belong to all of us, and yet, if voters don’t wake up and push back against these reforms, we are going to find that we have lost the last best hope for the next generation.

Phyllis A. Bush

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