There should be plenty of concern growing in the administration office of every public school as state testing begins in two weeks. And yet again there is another 2-hour delay on the heals of a closure yesterday due to weather. How in the world could our kids be ready for this state driven test?
That may be the least of our concerns. This week our political pundits at the state house felt it necessary to remove leadership power from Glenda Ritz, our state school superintendent – a position that has held leadership for the board of education for the state for more than a century. Ritz was elected by the populace, and certainly there were several reason since she would replace a particularly repugnant choice who, unbelievably, went right on to bamboozle Florida. (Those retirees from up north should have been reading their old hometown papers before they went to the polls!)
The question is why? Usually where there is a political decision made there is a money trail that can be followed. Follow the money and you likely have your answer. The answer? Charter Schools.
I don’t have a particular issue with charter schools. Many of them serve special purposes that public schools don’t have either the funds for or the interest in serving. Think of the number of alternative schools (and that may be all a charter school is when you think of the broader definition of alternative) that serve those students who are at risk or who have disabilities. Many of these alternative/charter schools serve their target populations well; others do not by anyone’s criteria of excellence. The problem is not what they are attempting to do, but rather how they are funded. Again, follow the money…
What does this have to do with testing, Glenda Ritz, and HB 1609? Take a look at the money trail that Doug Martin ferrets out in his blog called School Matters: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2015/02/charter-schools-usa-h4qed-and-indiana.html This is an eye-opener for sure.
Gov. Pence and his cronies should be ashamed of their behavior. Ritz attempted to buffer Indiana from a nationwide movement begun by PARCC associated with Common Core. There is a process (read that “time + patience”) required to move the mountains in any large organization, but especially at the state level. Ritz was not supported, and not given the time to make the changes necessary that would benefit Indiana.
But who cares about that? Following the money, thanks to Mr. Martin, we find that it hasn’t a wink to do with Mrs. Ritz or her gallant efforts. It has everything to do with hidden agendas that are well supported by the moneyed few who care very much that the youthful gentry of our Midwestern populace not mix with just anybody.
It’s classist. And as usual, many will suffer. You’ll note in Martin’s blog that where the charter schools don’t work, they are foisted under the heading of public education who get no extra financial support for their trouble, but are also saddled with that charter’s low test scores.
Test scores will suffer. Lack of time on task in school and new testing requirements ahead will ensure that public schools look like they just are up to taking care of business. When that happens, schools lose funding, are threatened with take over, are demoralized, but just as frightening is that our teachers are evaluated using those test scores.
I feel like we are living in a new sort of Victorian Age. I can’t imagine who would want to teach in this sort of climate. Many of us veteran educators will admit that we came into this profession with some rather idealistic motives. The hard realities of the classroom become even more brutal when you realize that we are mere puppets at the hands of the state officials.
Students’ futures will suffer. Not the top 10 or even 10%, but the average Joe. We need great leadership. We need great teachers and institutions that support all students. No agendas, no classism.