Thursday, February 10, 2011
Daniels Lack of Respect for Educators Boils Over
Governor Mitch Daniels has no respect for teachers. None.
After a passionate protest that had to do with the future of public schools by over a thousand teachers at the Statehouse yesterday, Governor Daniels chose to release a disrespectful and flat out untrue statement that tries to make educators sound like greedy, money-grubbing, and evil people out to destroy our students. Daniels’ said, “As always, the union's demand is more money, no change. Their priority is their organization, not the young people of Indiana. Their special interest domination of education policy from the local level to the State House has hurt Indiana children for too long and this year, change must finally come."
Nothing could be further from the truth, and Governor Daniels should immediately apologize for his insensitive remarks.
Teachers do see the need for change and reform in our public schools. We see it every day in our classrooms and our hallways. We know that some things we are doing are working and that some things aren’t. But, teachers are the practitioners of the craft, and I believe hold the key to reforming the process.
As it stands now, the classroom teacher has little control over what is taught in the classroom...especially in the core areas. The State of Indiana has become more and more of an ever-present entity as it dictates curriculum, standards, and much more to our school districts. It has gained control of funding and other critical aspects of education that control the quality of our public schools. I would argue that the problem is more with the state than with the practitioner.
Instead of listening to the practitioner, Indiana wants to dictate politically-charged rhetoric down from the Statehouse. Many legislators on both sides of the aisle have no interest in hearing what teachers want to tell them about the realities on the ground. It’s as if the generals don’t want to listen to the foot soldiers and are blindly ordering a series of charges and attacks on the problem without first analyzing information.
It’s because Governor Daniels, Indiana House Education Chair Bob Behning, and others believe they know Indiana schools. They want to blame the teacher and the administrator for all the failings without looking at several different indicators of success. More importantly, they want a “fall guy” so they don’t have to look in the mirror.
Governor Daniels had done more to harm morale of teachers with flippant and condescending statements like the one he issued after the rally. He has shown that he doesn’t care what teachers have to say or the issues they are bringing to the forefront. He believes he has all the answers and believes that destroying our traditional public school system is the best thing for Indiana.
As teachers will tell you, the Governor is missing the point. This isn’t about us. Most of us didn’t get into teaching to get rich or to gain fame. We got into teaching because we had family in the craft, and we saw what a difference they made. We got into the craft because we wanted to touch the future. We got into the craft because it was a calling. It was what we felt we wanted to do.
Hundreds of teachers didn’t gather at the Statehouse on Tuesday because they wanted to get higher salaries. They gathered there because they wanted Governor Daniels to listen. They wanted Rep. Behning to listen. They wanted Superintendent Bennett to listen. They wanted the state to listen. Unfortunately, the Governor and his water carriers (including a Democrat or two) aren't wanting to hear what many teachers have to say.
The need for reform is there! That’s certain. The problem is that the state would rather not listen to the teachers or the schools. Instead, they would rather push a dangerous agenda that is charged up and full of politics. We should all be outraged at that.
By the way, with the help of my friend, Democrat Mary Ann Sullivan (the only Democrat to vote for House Bill 1002), charter schools will be cropping up across Indiana like corn in the summertime. The bill is not friendly to real public schools (yes, I know charters are public, too). One of the provisions of the bill takes transportation money from traditional public schools and gives it to the charter schools unless schools provide transportation to the charter schools for students in their district. It also coerces public school districts to rent "underutilized" school buildings to charter schools for essentially nothing. Folks, the jury's still out on charters. I have seen no evidence that cannot be easily rebutted that shows me that charters are somehow better than traditional public schools.
(Editors Note: Mary Ann Sullivan has invited me to go to some charter schools so that she can show me some of these schools at work. I plan to take her up on this someday. I disagree with her ideas on charter schools, but I still respect her tremendously.)