Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 23, 2012

Election of Ritz illustrates a point


— In a resounding mandate, Glenda Ritz garnered an excess of 100,000 more votes than Indiana Governor Elect Mike Pence. What does it mean? What does this say about the proposals of the losing Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett? Teachers alone could not have done this. Indiana parents and many other taxpayers crossed party lines to kick out Superintendent Bennett and what he has been doing to Indiana classrooms.

At Fairfield High School, I asked Bennett to tell us how his proposed assessment to reward and/or fire teachers would give credit for improvements in our students’ creative thinking. He immediately changed the subject. He knew that his plans kill teacher and student creativity. Under his proposals, more students learn to hate school and hate learning. Governor-elect Pence wants to continue Bennett’s standardized testing, vouchers, and lower teacher certification standards.

Having been a teacher for more than 40 years, in retirement I publish a teaching/learning website. I receive emails from across America from frustrated uncertified teachers. They work for lower salaries in private schools. They agonize over students who are unable and/or unwilling to learn. They now realize they should have learned ways to motivate kids to try, to focus, and to love learning.

Studies confirm that charter schools, on average, do worse than public schools. Privatization, reducing teacher preparation, and standardized state testing (Bennett’s, Daniels’ and Pence’s answer) will dumb-down Indiana classrooms.

Testing that depends on standardized single-answer questions diminishes minds. A-plus teachers help us learn to ask better questions and propose better answers to questions that have many answers.

Tell state Sen. Carlin Yoder, Rep. Wes Culver and Gov.-elect Pence that you support Glenda Ritz’s leadership. Tell them to stop spending our taxes on vouchers. Insist on strong teacher certification requirements, and evaluate student improvement in their ability to ask better questions.

— Marvin Bartel