Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

November 2, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Nov. 2, 2012

Kokomo — Superintendent is outsourcing our kids

There is an education time bomb ticking in Indiana, and Tony Bennett wants to blame teachers. He should be looking in the mirror.

We are about to lose local control of our schools to the corporate, for-profit, privatization movement. State School Superintendent Bennett is selling off inner-city schools to private, profit-motive companies and charter schools. Studies show that these schools either fail or do no better than public schools, even though they are often given more money, more staff and more resources, and they drain money away from public schools. This year Fort Wayne Public Schools lost $2.6 million to private sector schools.

Why is Bennett doing this? Follow the money. Check out the big donors to his campaign, big corporations and testing services that stand to make a profit from privatizing schools. If Bennett wins re-election, they profit. Is this good for Indiana kids? We would like to ask Tony, but he is elusive, failing to show up four times in my town for a public forum.

How is he setting up schools to “fail”? By spending millions on testing programs (see his donors) that don’t begin to assess all that schools really do. He repeats the dubious message that schools are “failing,” ignoring schools’ many successes (the graduation rate in the 1950s was 50 percent; now it is 85 percent and climbing).

Reports around the state say teacher morale is at an all-time low, stress is high, and good people are leaving the profession. Think what will happen when Bennett releases his grading system (probably after the election) publicly labeling schools F, D, C, B, or A, all based on scores on a written test. Let’s guess how that will come out. Indianapolis Public Schools will largely “fail.” Affluent Carmel will be “A+”, and Bennett will reward them with his “merit” pay plan. IPS will be turned over to the profiteers who will do no better and maybe worse, and some of the hardest working teachers in the profession will be publicly humiliated.

What is the elephant in the room? Bennett and his friends don’t want to admit what studies have shown: that the No. 1 predictor of lower functioning schools is their level of poverty. This is obvious to any teacher who has taught in the inner city. Having visited over 130 schools in Indiana, I have great respect for these teachers. No one works harder under adverse conditions than they do.

Through the foresight of our founders, public education was established as a pillar of our democracy. Our public schools do not select their clientele, nor do they reject them. They accept everyone, whether rich, poor, non-English speaking, homeless, disabled, disadvantaged, apathetic, parentless, or those without clout or hope. We should be supporting this diversity and those hardy teachers who face these challenges every day. Why let charter schools feed at the public trough while siphoning off resources from the students who need them most?

We have to stop Tony Bennett from outsourcing our kids.

Dale Glenn, Ed.D., Bloomington

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