Friday, July 6, 2012

DFER Releases Scathing Response to ISTA Endorsement of Waltz

The Democrats for Education Reform released a pointed response to the Indiana State Teachers Association union endorsement of Republican Brent Waltz in the race for Senate District 36.  

You might remember, the ISTA shocked many people with its endorsement of Waltz over the Democrat, Mary Ann Sullivan, in the 2012 election.  Sullivan is not the ISTA's favorite Indiana House Member after she voted in favor of changing teacher evaluation methods in the state.  She also cast several votes which have benefited charter schools and other reforms.  She is, however, still staunchly against vouchers and stands staunchly against other harmful legislation that could further destroy our public education system as we know it.

The statement, released Tuesday, pretty much lays it all out there.  I thought about excerpting it, but I really don't know what I'd cut out it is.

Indiana (DFER-IN) today blasted the Indiana State Teachers Association’s endorsement of radical Republican State Senator Brent Waltz, saying the move calls into question the credibility of the organization that claims to stand up for teachers across the state. 
DFER-IN executive director Larry Grau pointed to Waltz’s record in the state legislature, where he made votes that range from cutting public education funding to striking down provisions that protect teacher safety in schools. 
“The fact that ISTA would support Brent Waltz, who has a record of opposing nearly every principle they claim to uphold, strikes at the heart of the organization’s credibility,” said Grau. 
“Waltz, vote after vote, has attacked public education in our state and pushed extreme positions that would harm teachers and their ability to succeed in the classroom.” 
Grau noted where Waltz’s record stands in contrast to that of traditional ISTA policy stances, including his:

Votes against full-day kindergarten;
Opposition to a bill that made possession of a knife on school property a misdemeanor crime;
Support for cutting public school funding, especially to the state’s most needy inner city schools;
Votes to increase public tax dollars going to support private schools; and
Opposition to scholarships for children of wounded military veterans.

“Looking at the Waltz portfolio, you have to come away with one of two conclusions: either ISTA has radically changed its policy positions or it acted out of short-sighted spite,” Grau said.
Grau believes the latter, saying the move was motivated by their disagreements with Waltz’s opponent Mary Ann Sullivan, who has gotten crossways with ISTA for supporting policies like increasing teacher accountability. But Grau pointed out that Sullivan has sided with the teacher’s union on all of the aforementioned issues, as well as opposing private school vouchers and supporting increases in public education funding throughout her legislative tenure. 
“This move by ISTA is spiteful, plain and simple” Grau said, comparing the endorsement to an angry high schooler enacting revenge on their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend by showing up in public with another date. 
“Like a scorned teen, ISTA has shown up at the dance on the arm of someone who can help them get revenge. It just so happens that their date also wants to dismantle public education as we know it – something I doubt their membership is in favor of.” 
Grau said, “Our state and nation are at a crossroads—especially when it comes to education. These are serious issues, with the future of our children hanging in the balance.” 
And, while he would have welcomed ISTA being supportive of education reform policies, Grau stated he believed this latest move smacks of something disingenuous. 
“Rather than joining in the discussions occurring on how to improve our schools, ISTA has chosen to endorse someone who has shown he is more prone to gut public education funding and attack inner-city schools than to improve the system” Grau said. “I don't believe you could find many teachers who would condone such radical efforts, which could greatly widen the achievement gap and hurt public education across Indiana. It begs the question: what teachers are being represented by ISTA with this endorsement of Waltz? 
“This is not an intellectually honest move by ISTA, and I think their membership will take notice,” Grau said.


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