Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Future of Public Education in Indiana: A Vital Primary Race

Today is primary day and voters in house district 91 in Indiana have a very important choice in candidates.  Our state's House Education committee chairman, Robert Behning is being challenge by a man, Michael Scott, who is pro-union and pro-public education.  Here is a letter from a parent (who happens to be our ICPE-Monroe County chairperson), Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, explaining the issues surrounding this race:

"As a mother of four, I see how decisions made by non-educators at the statehouse are directly affecting my children in their public school classrooms. My third-grader just took a test that will determine whether or not he is to go on to fourth grade, regardless of his teacher’s opinion. He is about to take the ISTEP and the stigma of a failing school grade rests on his small shoulders. His teacher knows that developmentally appropriate practice is the best way to reach him, but she also knows that her job is tied to his test scores and she needs her income. How did we get here? Take a look at the legislative record of Rep. Bob Behning and then follow the money from his campaign contributors

If you have wiped your child’s tears over the stress of testing, I hope you will go to the voting booth this May.

If you had concerns about new standards and were happy that they were being reviewed, I hope you remember this quote: “Frankly, most of the time the public would not have a very easy time even understanding what standards are, let alone trying to help form them.” 

If you voted for Glenda Ritz, I hope you remember who said that her win indicated that the “public didn’t really know the issues.”  and don’t forget how he introduced the bills that would undermine her control. 

If you have raised money for your schools at bake sales, I hope you remember that last year alone, $81 million dollars of our taxes was redirected to private schools through the vouchers that Behning’s authored bills made possible. They sold those to us as a way of giving poor children an opportunity for better schools. Now Behning says it’s not about quality, it’s about giving families a choice regardless .

Accountability? How about a $91 million bailout for charters’ loans while some of our public schools can’t even afford buses to transport kids safely? Why must I buy my kids’ textbooks while the homeschool and private schools parents get tax credits? Public schools accept all learners, vouchers don’t.

Bob Behning’s website declares him “a champion for smaller government and free market principles.” Yet he has taken away our local control through his policies. Last year he even introduced a bill that would take away our local school boards and hand control over to the governor-appointed state board (HB1337). And when glowing teacher evaluations came back this year he responded: “We may have let there be too much local control”.

Schools should be for kids, not for profit in a free-market experiment. Your kids and mine are not data points on a graph for investors, they are children who deserve a fully-funded, high quality education."

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer"

Our fingers are crossed that voters in District 91 will make the choice that supports our public schools as the cornerstone for our democracy.  Here's hoping they exercise that democratic right.. and vote.

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