Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana


November 2, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 2, 2012


Kokomo —

Privatize FEMA, too; who gets the bill?

Sometimes you need to ignore the media, Facebook, what friends say, and pay attention to what candidates say.

Monday night, Mitt Romney said his preference would be to privatize (sell off) FEMA to some corporation. Wow, what a revolutionary idea for a vulture capitalist: make money off the misery of others.

Can you imagine, after the emergency is over, you become inundated with bills for emergency management from corporations you never heard of before? ABC Emergency Management (a private company) bills you $10,000 or more for services rendered.

Larry Brooks, Kokomo

Ind. teachers deserve better than Bennett

While the presidential, gubernatorial and Senate races are in the forefront of our attention, I would like to encourage everyone to give thoughtful attention to the race for state superintendent of schools. This is a critical race as to its effect on the vocation of teaching. Who will lead the Indiana Department of Education? Will it be Tony Bennett or Glenda Ritz? From what I can gather, the majority of teachers are very frustrated with the brashness of Tony Bennett and his mandated educational reforms. His proposing and pushing mandates regarding teacher performance and evaluation has impacted teacher morale so that it appears that they are preparing students for ISTEP tests rather than exercising the freedom to teach in ways they believe they are called to teach. It is also atrocious that Dr. Bennett’s proposed teacher-contract form required teachers to work overtime at their own expense. Needless to say, Superior Court Judge Patrick McCarty struck it down as unconstitutional. Such an approach to education in Indiana does not command the respect of teachers nor should it.

As to Glenda Ritz, I attended a gathering in Kokomo wherein she spoke regarding her qualifications and proposals for the public school system in Indiana. The gathering proved to be primarily teachers, many of whom resonate with her candidacy. Ms. Ritz has 33 years of teaching experience, is very in tune with public education in Indiana, and is very articulate regarding the issues. More than anything, she demonstrates common sense and has very broad support among teachers, commanding their appreciation and respect.

I write this letter as the father of two teachers, one being in a county school and the other being in the Kokomo-Center Schools. I encouraged both of them to respond to the call to teach. I have watched them mature in the classroom, and I am quite aware of the hours they spend at home as well as going to their classrooms on some weekends, correcting papers, planning lessons, and giving over and above time to the needs of their students. Both love children and seek to do their best – as is the case for the majority of our teachers. Nonetheless, these teachers are not only faced with the educating of our children, they are faced daily with the familial and social dilemmas of our day. The poverty rate among children in Howard County is 24.5 percent, with 39 percent needing free lunches. Sixty-one percent of grandparents are caregivers for their grandchildren. Four thousand four hundred ninety-six children are being raised by single mothers, and 1,549 children are being raised by single fathers, a stress all its own. Children are under great duress. My guess is that neither Dr. Bennett nor our legislators really understand the ramifications this has for public education and the teaching profession. One can certainly understand, then, why student testing falls far short of being a legitimate method of the evaluation of teachers.

I wrap this up with a true story. Three or four years ago my son and a teaching colleague exercised team teaching with their fifth-grade classes. Following the student ISTEP testing, the Indiana Department of Education called for a conference with these two teachers. Why? Their classes did too well on the ISTEP tests! They wanted to know if these teachers gave their children the answers. The teachers’ response was, “We told our students over and over to go back and check their answers, and they did.” Their principal was quick to back them up. I have every respect for my son and his colleague, knowing them both from their younger years. Both are of outstanding character. For the Department of Education under the leadership of Tony Bennett to question their integrity was less than professional if not downright unjust.

The public schools and teachers of Indiana deserve better. The teachers of Indiana are worthy of our support. As an expression of such support, I encourage you to vote for Glenda Ritz for state superintendent of schools.

Fred W. Dorisse, Kokomo

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