Here’s the problem: None of the things that Governor Daniels supports will actually improve Hoosier classrooms or do anything to close the achievement gap for struggling children or underperforming schools.
The evidence and the facts simply are not on his side.
For example, the best evidence on charter schools shows that most of them are actually less effective than traditional public schools. That’s why educators – the people who are in the classroom every day– have resisted these trendy notions of “reform.”
If you can’t win an argument on facts, as some people have said, attack your opponent - and that’s just what Governor Daniels is doing.
In addition to pushing for ill-conceived “reform” policies, Governor Daniels is attempting to silence educators by stripping teachers of their basic right to bargain collectively. The governor and other politicians are claiming that if they weaken the voice of teachers, students will achieve more. This is nothing more than a shameless political smokescreen and it has nothing to do with improving public education. The sole aim of this legislation is to destroy the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) and open the door to the complete privatization of all public schools.
If Governor Daniels had a genuine desire to improve public schools in Indiana, he would work with educators to achieve full-day kindergarten programs and early childhood learning opportunities. And we would be eager to work with him to implement these types of programs but sadly, they are not on the table.
Instead, we have a movement to undermine ISTA and eliminate most of the collective bargaining rights of teachers. The governor claims that taking away these rights would somehow improve public education. The reality is that over the years, collective bargaining has made our schools stronger.
Collective bargaining helps to include teachers’ voices and expertise in matters of classroom instruction and student learning. Collective bargaining has led to robust evaluation systems that provide for removal of ineffective teachers, smaller class sizes, greater safety and improved environments, after school programs, even sacrifices such as salary freezes and cuts to keep educators on the job during times when budgets are tight.
Without a doubt, our schools face many pressing challenges in the coming years—collective bargaining is simply not one of them. Instead of focusing on political gimmicks, the governor should be focused on working with educators to ensure that Indiana’s children have the educational tools they need to prepare them for the jobs of the future.
Attacking teachers who serve Indiana’s students every day is not reform, it’s politics and our educators and our children deserve better.
Brenda Pike is Executive Director of the Indiana State Teachers Association