No Time for Games in Education Policies

A vehicle bill in the Indiana General Assembly is one that contains no text, but is available to be amended at a later time. HB 1367 fits in that category this time around, and the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) hopes to drive its suggested school budget cuts through the House Education Committee (via 1367) on Monday.

The ISTA plan: gut the progress made last year (scholarship tax credit and virtual charter school pilot programs), eliminate some testing (really ?), spend rainy day funds and any reserves above 8%, and allow more money to be transferred from capital funds to general operating funds.

The Indiana Chamber, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and about any other group interested in education policy are prepared to oppose this effort. IDOE previously released a Citizens’ Checklist that prioritizes items that should be considered before any cuts are made that affect classroom instruction and learning. And while the ISTA does not propose the feared mass teacher layoff, putting the clamps on the much-needed scholarship and voucher school initiatives would be detrimental to students and their learning opportunities.

The checklist emphasizes that school districts look at some of the same changes many businesses have been forced to implement during the economic downturn. These include freezing pay (or rolling back previous increases) and closely reviewing health plans (with inclusion in the state program an option that would save money for many). These two items alone could account for much of the projected $300 million cut in education funds.

At the same time that judiciously saving money should be the top priority, a questionable $200 million mandate on school counselors passed the House committee last week. While the Chamber said "no, you have to be kidding," or something a little more professional, it was the only one to speak up and the measure somehow had the support of ISTA and associations representing superintendents, school boards and counselors.

Finally, education leaders and those same groups are also saying that if you want us to teach young people to read (SB 258), we’re going to need more money. Since when is reading NOT included in current education efforts.

Let’s hope a little common sense begins to prevail — starting today.

4 thoughts on “No Time for Games in Education Policies

  1. Thanks for a great post, Tom. The real irony is that ISTA is pushing HB 1367 under the pretext of budget cuts, while Scholarship Tax Credit programs have been proven to save State budgets millions of dollars. Through the Scholarship Tax Credit students will receive a quality education at a school of their choice for a fraction of the cost to tax-payers. This is Teacher’s Union self-interest and politics at the expense of kids and tax payers at its worst.

    I’ll be continuing to follow the progress of these proceedings, with great interest, on my blog

  2. I want to see you teach a class of 30 first graders to read! As the money drops in education, fewer teachers are hired, classroom sizes go up and scores go down. It is a FACT. Younger students need personalized instruction. In a group of 30 that becomes a secondary item to keeping everyone in a seat and on task. You need time to get to know what your students need and this is best served through smaller class sized. Put some money in YOUR future!

  3. So let me get this srtgiaht. 216 students were given the opportunity to attend private schools in DC, rather than remain in the failling public school system, and this is somehow unfair, because EVERYONE can’t have the same opportunity.But Obama’s daughters can attend a private school in DC because ? Isn’t it unfair of them to benefit from their father’s position, when so many others who lack such connections have to settle for attending public schools? Why is it okay for him to use his connections to get his kids into the best private schools in DC, but it’s somehow not okay for him to use his connections to get them into the “good schools” within the public system? Why is holding a lottery unfair, but having money to take your kids out of the system isn’t? Or is it not unfair for the wealthy to skip public schools only when it’s the rich on the progressive left?

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