In 2008, one of the state races went fairly unnoticed. The person who had been state superintendent of the Indiana Department of Education was retiring and two new candidates were up for election. Because there was not much press or campaign publicity, it was no surprise that the Republican candidate won. The result has changed Indiana schools forever.
Tony Bennett, an educator who spent most of his career in private schools, was elected, and began a real assault on local control of public schools. He tapped into the myth that most public schools are inadequate and used his office to begin attacks on teachers and communities.
The result is that public schools budgets have been drastically reduced while requirements and mandates have been increased significantly. Local school boards have lost control of some curricular decisions and accountability. As stated by local Chambers of Commerce, the grading system that has been created will ensure there are more failures than successes, which in turn, makes it more difficult to sell businesses on communities and further erodes the ability for urban areas to grow.
The bottom line is that our current IDOE policies have been disastrous for children and communities. Accountability is necessary, and there is no question education has to respond to the needs of an incredibly more complex economy; however, decisions have already been made that ensure that success, as the state of Indiana has joined in the implementation of the common core standards and resulting assessments.
We do not need the conflict — the privatizing of our schools — the loss of local influence. Please, my friends, consider the superintendent race seriously and vote for Glenda Ritz. Regardless of your party affiliation or leaning, we need to think about children — not ideology.
— Gene Hollenberg