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.