Monday, July 18, 2016

Pence: A Negative Impact

A guest post from an anonymous Indiana public school teacher.

I’m a Hoosier with conservative values. I’m pro-life and my faith in Jesus Christ guides my decisions. But I’m not a supporter of Pence.

I’m an educator, and most Indiana educators will tell you that they, too, do not support Mike Pence. It’s one of the reasons his re-election as governor was shaky before he became the choice for Trump’s VP.

Most Americans and non-teaching Hoosiers haven’t had an opinion about Pence until he signed a bill which got the attention of the LGBT community. Because it brought bad publicity during an election year, Pence rescinded on the bill.

What the general public doesn’t know about Pence is that he and Indiana Republicans have been bedfellows with the American Legislative Exchange Council and Pearson. Together, behind closed doors, these lawmakers and corporation giants have decided which education laws will be passed each term. They’ve found a way for school funds to benefit them through vouchers, testing, teacher qualifications, and the privatization of public schools.

Pence supports corporate greed over the good of children and local communities. I’m not sure how this will make American great again.

In Indiana, Pence’s education policies have negatively impacted every aspect of education. While Mitch Daniel’s administration made sweeping changes by introducing vouchers, state-mandated teacher evaluations, salary caps, and high stakes testing, Mike Pence continued the excessive executive power, disregard of law, and hostile aggression towards educators.

Mr. Pence devalued the teaching profession by lowering requirements for qualified teachers and establishing Pearson created competency testing. He legislated how teachers are evaluated and paid, resulting in high-stakes evaluations and minuscule performance pay.

Teachers in Indiana are leaving the classroom in masses. The stress is too high and they are underpaid. Because there’s now a teacher shortage, Pence and Republican lawmakers spent time and money to study the reasons why.

In the 2012 election, the residents of Indiana voted for Democrat Glenda Ritz to be Superintendent of Public Education. It was the outcry against the Daniels/Tony Bennett administration. In response, Pence used executive power to develop his own education committee that would be at odds with the Department of Education. He also removed the Superintendent of Public Education as the chairman of the State Board of Education.

During his four years, Pence planned to create a public news media that would report the news from his administration he wanted the public to hear. Bold power and control efforts from a man labeled by outsiders as meek and mild.

As an educator, I’ve been demoralized at the lack of respect he’s shown me, my colleagues, and the children we serve. Last year, I spoke to an appointee of Pence’s to advocate for discouraged teachers and kids who are negatively affected by standardized testing. In turn, I learned that money is what speaks, and if you speak against those in power, you get black-listed and libeled by the media.

People outside of education don’t think this isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal, because when leaders let money determine what’s best for kids, then integrity always has a price.

Education with political strings attached affects every community.

In Indiana, small, rural schools are shutting down because funding has been cut, families are moving out of district, and whole communities are losing jobs where school corporations are the largest employers.

Inner-city schools, like Indianapolis Public Schools, are urban nightmares as charter schools take away public school funding, yet only meet the needs of a fraction of the population.

Cities like Indy, Detroit, and Chicago are the poster-children for big government in education. The corporate rich and politicians get the money, and the urban poor, of which have a racial bias, receive a sub-standard education.

This is what Pence brings to the Republican Party ticket if he follows the path he’s paved in Indiana. If you don’t think education effects all parts of society, then education has benefitted you. If you know what the school-to prison pipeline is, then I don’t need to explain anymore.

The only presidential candidate that will make American great again is the one who invests in and supports public education for all children. He or she is the one that honors the teaching profession, who doesn’t deal with corporate interest in education, and returns the control of schools to local communities.

Pence hasn’t done this for Indiana. The candidate who values these things is one who cares about kids, community, and isn’t bought by corporate America.

An Anonymous Teacher, 2016


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