Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 3, 2014

MARK HEINIG: Fight for control of public schools

Potential casualties in this conflict: your children.

(Continued)

Virtual schools, some chartered and some public, may become more popular because they allow students to take more courses at various times and locations. Any course not requiring laboratory work can be taught online to students in their homes. And it’s cheaper. There are fewer teachers to pay and fewer buildings to maintain.

Yet, parents would need to arrange much more supervision or provide it themselves. How would it affect two-income families? Would some of them be forced to sacrifice income and allow one parent to stay home with the children? How much economic hardship would this cause?

My son and his wife are both teachers. Until all of their children were old enough for public school, they did manage to pay for excellent day care. It cost them about 35 percent of their combined salaries for 10 years. They believed it was worth the price.

I think most Hoosier parents would agree, but how many can afford it in today’s economy? How many parents will have to settle for less expensive, lower quality day care or depend on help from friends and relatives? Substantial financial aid from Indianapolis would mean wealthy people must pay higher taxes. How likely is that in fiscally conservative Indiana?

Protecting teachers’ jobs isn’t the problem that some think. College-educated people often have marketable skills in several fields. Every year gifted educators begin new careers or retire early. Frustration, not compensation, is the main reason. Some leave because they aren’t free to decide what to teach and how to do it. Others seek opportunities where their job security does not depend on circumstances beyond their control. If students refuse to cooperate and teachers get no support from administrators and parents, many resign.

Despite a more optimistic outlook, the State Board of Education and Superintendent Ritz will continue to clash on some issues until the next election. Then the voters will decide who’s right and who’s wrong. Will they favor the board members appointed by the governor and his predecessors or the superintendent elected by the people? It probably depends how much schools improve between now and then. The potential casualties are our children. Is this teaching them about democracy as it should be? Not at all!

Mark Heinig Jr. of Kokomo is a retired teacher and principal. Contact him at markjr1708@gmail.com.

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