INDIANAPOLIS | A former region schools leader delivered to state lawmakers Wednesday a blistering critique of recent changes to Indiana education policy and their negative impacts on economic development.
Raymond Golarz, the former superintendent of Hobart schools and a former Hammond school administrator, said state grades for public schools, the promotion of private school vouchers and diminishing teacher authority have worn down the state's public school system and destroyed the morale of teachers.
"It's brutal out there," Golarz said.
Golarz, who now lives in Bloomington, traveled the state for the past three months meeting with teachers, principals, business leaders and ordinary Hoosiers on behalf of the Legislature's Interim Study Committee on Economic Development.
He found senior citizens shocked their property values had collapsed because their local school was rated "F," and suggested Realtors were using school grades to "red-line" affluent families and businesses away from poorer areas.
"Attempts at grading schools are causing grave economic harm to the state," Golarz said.
His review of the school voucher system, where state funds pay tuition for students attending religious and other private schools, determined that vouchers are leading to "white flight" from public schools and diminishing the diversity experiences businesses value.
"It would be a tragedy if lots and lots of our kids take vouchers and walk away from those kinds of experiences," Golarz said.
He encouraged lawmakers to give teachers more authority to control the students in their classrooms and to respect teacher training programs at state universities.
In addition, he said Indiana must work harder to prevent drug abuse, as many Hoosiers are unemployed because they can't pass a pre-employment drug test.