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.