TONY LUX: Responsible public education policy ignored

2014-02-14T00:00:00Z TONY LUX: Responsible public education policy ignoredBy Tony Lux nwitimes.com
February 14, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Indiana legislation continues along the path of discriminatory preference for private and religious interests while public education performance continues to be negatively misrepresented.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on Jan. 29 analyzed Indiana school voucher data to reveal taxpayer-supported voucher schools can refuse admission based on religion, economic background and academic record; not offer instruction to English language learners; not be required to hold public school board meetings; not be bound by any curricular standards, and to fire teachers without cause.

The Indiana State Teachers Association has identified almost $10 million being given to unregulated voucher schools with Ds and Fs.

Proposed Indiana legislation suggests voucher supported private schools not be required to take ISTEP, not have to fill out paperwork, nor be bound by facility standards for the disabled. Senate Bill 91 permanently halts Common Core Standards because of pressure from private school interests.

The continued failure of charter schools to improve student achievement is well documented by The Times. SB 264 will provide state stipends (possibly $10,000) for high-quality public school teachers who transfer to low-performing charter schools - but not low performing public schools.

Travis Waldron in ThinkProgress.org has revealed the United States as the preschool education caboose to other foreign countries. China’s goal is to have 40 million children in preschool. Mexico and European nations plan for all children to attend preschool.

Sadly, Indiana is one of only 10 states not to have state-funded pre-K. Current legislation exploits the importance of preschool as just another avenue to private school vouchers. Even then, only a paltry 1,000 preschoolers may receive state funding, but not until 2015!

Public education continues to suffer from misleading reports. Explanations for “lagging” performance on international exams, for example, are under-publicized. Xu Xhao, Harvard School of Education, explains Asian motivation in Education Week (Jan. 22). Ten million Chinese 12th-graders compete for only 6.5 million college openings. Without a college education, Chinese students are destined for low income outside of major cities like Shanghai.

Also from Education Week (Jan. 8-14), while the United States has a 22 percent student poverty rate, a disproportionate 40 percent of U.S. students who took the international PISA in 2009 were from our lowest economic levels, a significantly greater demographic percentage than any other country.

While cries for public education improvement continue, further cuts in public education funding loom forebodingly from state proposals to reduce corporate taxes.

Instead of financial responsibility for improving public education, biased legislation for private and religious interests continues with a blind eye to voucher accountability and failed charter school results. This is shameful and irresponsible public policy.

Tony Lux is retired superintendent of Merrillville Community School Corp. The opinions are the writer's.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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