Wow. Yesterday there was an amazing turnout for our public education rally at the statehouse! Despite the weather, ICPE-MCSCI members made their way to hear our friends of public education give speeches and raise the rally cry for public education! Here is the text of our chairperson, Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer's speech:
I’m here, like many of you, because I am tired of my child taking the test to prepare for the test so that he will do well on the test.
But it’s not just about the test.
I’m here because I thought that if we voted for an educator to head up the department of education and chair the state board, we might get away from the test mania.
But it’s not just about Glenda Ritz.
I am here because way too many people are speaking “for the kids” and it’s time they listened to parents.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a politician, a chamber of commerce representative, or a Hoosier for Economic Growth—I mean, a Hoosier for Quality Education PAC person say it was “FOR THE KIDS,” I might have enough money to buy a legislator of my own.
YOU SEE, THIS IS ABOUT MONEY. This is about using tests to create a crisis so they can make money.
The only "proof" they can point to for that "crisis" can be broken down to this: the teachers, children and schools they find failing are all correlated with concentrations of poverty. In fact, the highest correlation with test scores is the child’s economic and educational family background.
Are we to believe that schools and teachers are solely responsible for ameliorating and solving the very real poverty problem we have in this state? What of the legislators?
This is about legislators who receive thousands of dollars to represent those who would profit from the “choice” of voucher and charter schools, curriculum and testing. This is about bills that come, not from their constituency, but from ALEC (look it up) and corporate interests. Look at the campaign contributions of our house education committee members. FOLLOW THE MONEY.
This is about the legislature shirking their own “accountability” while creating a pressured learning environment for our kids in their test-driven madness. My child is not “college and career ready” because HE IS A CHILD. And I am not asking you to tie his scores to his teacher’s job and to his school’s future. Parents did not ask you to slap a letter grade on our kids’ schools. I want more from his education that can be found on a test.
As a mother, I want our legislature to be accountable.
ACCOUNTABILITY is representing your constituents, not your donors.
ACCOUNTABILITY is upholding the state constitution, which states that every child has the right to a free, high quality PUBLIC EDUCATION.
ACCOUNTABILITY means that we PTO and PTA moms and dads should not have to raise essential funds for our schools with bake sales, while the state legislature bleeds millions and millions of our public school dollars to private voucher schools and charters.
ACCOUNTABILITY is research-driven, education policy. Standards don’t educate kids. Teachers do.
ACCOUNTABILITY is seeing to it that every child has a school that has enough nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, gym, art, and music teachers, librarians, small class sizes, electives, hands-on projects, science experiments, theater, and band. Every single Indiana child.
ACCOUNTABILITY IS not creating a lose-lose situation for public education by allowing voucher schools to decide who can enter and who can’t and even more outrageously, allowing the PRIVATE SCHOOLS FUNDED WITH TAX DOLLARS TO OPT OUT OF THE ISTEP WHILE PUBLIC SCHOOLS CAN’T. #SenateBill470
Children shouldn’t have to choose this—they should receive it. That’s what public education is for: to nurture the citizens of our democracy. These are not businesses, these are schools. Our children should not be in a competition for a quality education because NO SIX YEAR-OLD SHOULD BE ON THE LOSING END FOR EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY.
We can’t sustain three tiers of education: charter, voucher, public. We tried separate but equal and we found it un-American. We found it undemocratic. And THAT is what this is about:
Dysfunction in our democracy.
Dysfunction is not our dissent with the governor and supermajority’s agenda and that messy conflict of trying to find common ground. That’s the stuff of democracy.
Dysfunction is voiding our votes so you can silence that dissent!
Dysfunction is paying for representation.
Dysfunction is viewing our children as dots on a graph for your investors while saying you are “for the kids”
Because we, the parents and teachers who are with our kids every day and who actually LOVE THEM-- we are the ones who are TRULY for the kids.
And ultimately, ACCOUNTABILITY in a democracy is found in the voting booth.
I hope that all of you here with me and all across Indiana will hold our state legislature accountable in 2016.
Our children and our democracy depend on it.
An update from the founder of our state level group, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education...
Vic’s Statehouse Notes #201 – February 12, 2015
Put this bill in the category of “Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse for Public Education”!
Yesterday afternoon (Feb. 11th) the Senate Education Committee heard Senate Bill 470. It would allow private schools receiving vouchers to ignore ISTEP and to take instead “another nationally recognized and norm referenced assessment” of their own choice. The bill instructs the State Board to develop an A-F system just for the voucher schools taking alternate assessments.
Last year, a similar bill was quickly rejected by the committee because of the obvious reduction in accountability for voucher schools if they aren’t held to Indiana’s standards and assessed via ISTEP. This year, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill 7-3 on a party line vote.
Now we see why the State Board in House Bill 1486 wants to eliminate the current ban on using peer comparisons (norm referenced assessments) in the A-F growth metrics. It’s a complicated web they weave.
Governor Pence strongly endorsed the bill via his education policy director Chad Timmerman, who said that private schools should be able to “choose their own test.”
If anyone doubts that Governor Pence and the leaders of the General Assembly and State Board are favoring private schools over public schools in Indiana’s intense competitive marketplace of school choice, this bill should remove all doubts. The voucher program was sold in 2011 by promising that private schools would take ISTEP and would be measured like all public schools using the A-F system. Now just four years later the voucher schools want to change the rules but keep the money.
This bill would give private voucher schools a direct competitive advantage in the marketplace of school choice because they could attract parents who dislike excessive testing. Public schools would also like to reduce the excessive testing that the General Assembly and State Board have mandated, but this bill only relieves testing mandates for private voucher schools.
This is one more reason why you should come to the Statehouse rally to speak out against the ongoing assault on public education. Can you come to the Statehouse rally on February 16th at 2:00pm?
Senate Bill 470
Senator Schneider is sponsoring Senate Bill 470, which is similar to a bill he brought last year that did not make it to a floor vote. This time around, he has added State Board authority to craft an alternate A-F system for voucher schools using alternate norm-referenced assessments.
Ten speakers testified for the bill including several parents who denounced the excessive testing currently required by the ISTEP testing program. In the current turmoil over the amount of testing, public school parents might have given the same speeches.
Five speakers testified against the bill: John Barnes, IDOE; Sally Sloan, AFT-Indiana; Ronni Embry, ISTA; Scott Turney, Small & Rural Schools Association; and I. Joel Hand returned from testifying for ICPE in the House Ways and Means budget hearing literally five seconds after Chairman Kruse closed the hearing on SB 470. A copy of my testimony in opposition is attached.
In the vote, Republican Senators Yoder, Bassler, Leising, Schneider, Raatz, Pete Miller and Kruse voted yes. Democrat Senators Rogers, Stoops and Mrvan voted no. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee next week.
Contact your Senator or all Senators to express your outrage at the double standard for accountability that SB 470 would establish between voucher schools and public schools.
Come to the Rally!
Senate Bill 470 is just the latest example of the lack of support for public education seen so far in this General Assembly. If you have had enough, you are invited to come to the Statehouse rally in support of public education this coming Monday at 2pm in the North Atrium of the Statehouse.
The rally messages are: to STOP taking powers away from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, to STOP the ongoing assault on public education and to LISTEN to voters and teachers.
The rally is organized by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education and rally partners are ISTA, AFT-Indiana, Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education and the Indiana PTA. For more details, go to: www.icpe2011.com.
Share the message, bring friends and come to the Statehouse to the 2pm rally on President’s Day!
Thanks for all your efforts in support of public education!
Vic Smith email@example.com
“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!
In the midst of the proceeding to remove Glenda Ritz from her role as chairperson of the state board of education, our governor held a conference deflecting this blatant disregard for democracy and addressed the outraged parents' concerns that the ISTEP was too much time on testing and that by executive order he was having it shortened. Parents who knew very little about the overall situation of public education, nor the history of this testing debacle celebrated all over social media that the governor heard them. In response, our ICPE-Monroe County chairperson, wrote this Facebook blast:
"Governor Pence has swooped down on his white horse and hat to right the wrongs of the ISTEP. You have got to be kidding me.
Yes. The same way that dissolving his secondary department of education at the start of this session (CREATED BY HIS OWN EXECUTIVE ORDER WASTING MILLIONS OF OUR HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS) "FIXED" the troubles with Ritz and the SBOE.
Governor Pence has created both problems and then somehow gets credit for finding solutions. Heck, he doesn't need his own state-run newspaper. He's got a confused unaware citizenry.
It was the pressure of his constituency and that of the super majority that made them PASS A LAW TO STOP COMMON CORE AND CREATE NEW STATE STANDARDS. Yes, the feds require college and career ready standards. So give up the waiver already. Democrats, Republicans-- these are corporate education reformers we are talking about and they are not doing ANY OF THIS FOR YOUR KIDS. It is all about the money.
Glenda Ritz put together new state standards by including as many of the players she could and being sure that she was including all of the many standards that the supermajority, SBOE and governor required of her. She and her staff wanted to ask for a halt to the accountability until they could roll out and test this assessment. This is our superintendent enacting THE POLICY SET BY THE GOVERNOR THE SBOE AND THE SUPERMAJORITY. (Yes, in line with the federal requirements. So drop the waiver already. Aren't you so flipping proud of your surplus as others have pointed out).
But it's not even about standards. There is NO RESEARCH that shows that standards educate children. I thought they salivated over data? SHOW ME THE DATA.
It's about Chambers of commerce blaming teachers for not having kids "college and career ready for a global economy" while they and their corporate interests ship jobs overseas or avoid paying workers a living wage so the top tier can make more money. SHOW ME THE JOBS, INDIANA SUPERMAJORITY. Because these kids in public schools can sure as heck show you some jobless parents.
It's about making money off of these exams that show that kids are failing and blaming the schools of education for creating these teachers who can't get kids to test well. Let's test the teachers to test the schools of education to prove that they, too are failing. Watch them open their virtual online academies of teacher preparedness training. OR, more profitable, let's create more Teach for America unskilled well-meaning teachers to replace those union thugs.
It's about a narrative that calls superintendents CEOs and views schools as businesses and education as a product and our kids--widgets in a factory. Those unskilled laborers are creating a better product because of competition.
It's about a message that claims that our public schools are failing. And the offer: MARKETS WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING.
It's about ALEC (google ALEC and destroy public education) and the Friedman Foundation and creating a market. Choose your schools, privatize the system so the markets can improve everything. Try charters (where only engaged parents can transport kids and get on lotteries and no democratic accountability to the people exists because there is no voting for a board to run them and they are proven to be no better and no worse, but way more open to corruption and harm for kids). Try your voucher (then you don't have to go to school with those kids. Except, of course in your private school doesn't want to keep you or deems you a behavior problem). Where these have existed, public schools have not improved. What of the kids in those schools?
Here's the thing.
My child is not college and career ready because he is a child. A test does not begin to sum up what I want for him. I trust teachers. i believe in public education because I believe that every single child regardless of background should have the same opportunity to a free, high quality public education as it states in our Indiana constitution. I believe that accountability means:
Every child should have a school that has enough nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, gym teachers, art teachers, music teachers, librarians, small class sizes, electives, hands-on projects, science experiments, theater, band. Every child. But instead our schools are being strangled. They are jumping through hoops where every. single. thing. is. tied. to. a. score. And the purpose is money.
Tell you what:
Let's privatize firefighters and police officers. They don't get to houses in the inner cities or out in rural areas fast enough. Let's see if competition improves things. Oh? That child in the meth trailer out in the county? Too bad. If his parents weren't on drugs maybe they could have afforded to buy a house closer to the damn fire department.
No, you know what? I don't ride the city bus. But my teens could use a new used car. Give me a voucher for the money for public transportation because the money should follow my child. I don't like to touch the books at the library either, gimme my voucher for Barnes and Noble.
Ridiculous? Our ancestors would be appalled that we want to go back to the days where the children lie dying neglected in the streets.
Governor Pence and his friends at ALEC, the Koch brothers, don't believe in democracy. They don't believe in a government for the people, by the people and of the people. They don't believe in democratically elected school boards and schools.
Glenda Ritz was in the way of a much bigger agenda. My child who has not yet lost his baby teeth is a pawn in a game that has taken away our local control, relegated our public school system to a circus act of jumping through testing hoops to please the ringmaster... who can bring the tent down at any time.
Fix the problem? Be rebellious, Indiana. Wake up and smell the fascism. You've got someone who gets his way by executive order and a supermajority with no checks and balances. The one dissent in the education policymaking just lost her major responsibilities--not by democratic vote, but by changing her position through statute. Follow the money and you'll find the motivations.
I hope the mama bears and papa bears, and yes, the Grandma and Grandpa Grizzlies will get mad enough to do something radical:
I’m speaking as a mother. Although I speak to you all here… I am also speaking to Governor Pence and his supporters as well.
My kids attend public schools because I believe that it gives them the skills and strengths to be good citizens for our democracy. I want them to go to school with children from all different backgrounds because I believe that by doing that they will have gained the ability to find compromise and common ground in the midst of many opposing viewpoints. These are the skills that are being put to the test for all of you.
Because you all are appointed by the governor, you are accountable to the governor to set his agenda. Glenda Ritz is accountable to me and to the other million + voters who elected her running on a very different platform. This was always going to be challenging.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a politician or chamber of commerce person or a Hoosier for Economic Growth…um…sorry… I mean a Hoosier for QUALITY Education person say it is for the kids, I might have enough money to buy a legislator of my own.
But I don’t. I am a mother, not a teacher or a union rep, but I am speaking for my four kids. I should hope that would give me some clout. I also imagine that I speak for many mothers of children on all points of this “achievement gap.”
I don’t WANT my kids to be good test takers. I want them to be critical thinkers, kind and thoughtful citizens. Please don’t tie my teachers’ pay or evaluations to how my 10 year old does on a test.
Parents are not asking for you for this. We are trusting our kids to their teachers’ care every day. We recognize that if our children’s teachers are demoralized, if they are viewed as replaceable unskilled labor and treated as such, our kids’ education will suffer. We know that if our teachers are stressed, our kids will be, too. Their working conditions are our kids’ learning conditions.
Frankly, if it’s between trusting a teacher or trusting politicians backed by PACs whose interest is in taking public funds over to private schools and expanding the profitable models of charter schools cozy with testing companies, I choose the teachers.
You need to find a way to hear what the public is saying about education and why they voted for the superintendent and reconcile that with the Governor’s agenda and your own. Anything less than that disrespects democracy.
Parents aren’t asking you to force more test-taking on our kids to prove that their teachers are ineffective; that doesn’t help our kids. But I imagine people who would profit from their perceived failure would. Parents are not asking you take Glenda Ritz out of the equation—we’re asking you to do the difficult work of finding middle ground so that our agenda and your agenda can somehow find compromise. Dissent is not dysfunction, but abuse of power certainly is.
Don’t equate test scores with learning and stop tying school grades, takeover, and teachers’ jobs to them. Don’t remove local control over the few things in education that we have left to control—including teacher evaluations. And please don’t remove our superintendent from her roles and duties. She was elected by the people. If there needs to be accountability, let the people decide.
It’s called democracy.