Thursday, August 13, 2015

ALEC ownership = Indiana, Wisconsin lack for teachers

In a previous life, I was a high school teacher in Indianapolis and La Porte, Indiana (hence the joke on my username), before leaving the profession to move back to Madison and further my education. So needless to say, this story in today’s Washington Post grabbed my attention.
The teacher shortage in Indiana is becoming such a problem that some state lawmakers want a legislative committee to study the issue and come up with solutions. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate education committees have asked General Assembly leaders to approve having the legislative education study committee review what is causing the drop and how the state could respond.

For one thing, they can look in the mirror. The Republican leadership of the state — including Gov. Mike Pence — showed their respect for teachers by working very hard this year to strip power from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a veteran educator who won election to the post in 2012 (by defeating Tony Bennett, the incumbent who was a protege of former Florida governor Jeb Bush). Oh, by the way, she is a Democrat. David Long, the Republican president of the Indiana Senate, said while explaining why the legislature would want to remove Ritz as chairman of the state Board of Education: "In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, okay?"

No, not okay. Ritz worked as an educator and media specialist who won teacher of the year awards at two different schools….

For 2015-17, the state Legislature gave less funding to urban schools and more to charter schools and private schools that accept students with vouchers. A new school funding formula, according to Chalkbeat Indiana, has led to this situation.
Of the 25 school districts with the highest family income, all of them will get more per-student state aid over the next two years.

But what about the 25 with the lowest family income? Just 12 of them get more money in 2016 and 2017 across the board — in overall state aid and per-student aid. The rest get less in one or both areas.

In addition, the story mentions articles such as this one, which notes that enrollment in Ball State’s teacher education program has plummeted by 45 percent in the last 10 years, and that principals can’t fill math and English positions with new grads from Indiana State in Terre Haute because an assistant dean tells them "there aren’t any."

Sounds a whole lot like Wisconsin, doesn’t it? Right down to the voucherizing of education, reduction of the power of teachers’ unions, and redneck legislators from gerrymandered districts demeaning the value of education and the role of the State Superintendent of Schools that the people elected (just wait, you know it’s coming in Wisconsin). But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as Mike Pence and the GOP hillbillies in Indiana get their ideas from the same place Scott Walker and the GOP’s dingbats in Wisconsin do- ALEC.

Let’s not forget that the ALEC endgame for K-12 is the removal of education as a public good, and instead turning it into a cheapened commodity that can be profitized to campaign contributors, who in turn kick back some of those profits back to politicians in the form of more campaign contributions.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week on Wisconsin districts seeing similar teaching shortages, it’s amazing to me that the “free market” types at ALEC and today’s GOP don’t seem to understand that when you reduce pay, reduce funding, and disrespect the teaching profession, many people choose another type of job. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that these dopes flunk Econ 101 (or don’t care about the predictable decline in public education that follows), but it should anger every one of you that give a rat’s ass about your community and your state’s ability to compete in the future economy.

It's quite clear that the ALEC puppets in Indiana and Wisconsin didn't listen to Lewis Black last October. And like most things in life, if you don't listen to Lewis Black, you're missing out. The good stuff starts around 0:40 (and this being Lewis Black, the language is NSFW).

"It starts with education. You fucking look for great teachers, you don't fuck around, and you pay them, if you want your kids to be taught well." - Lewis Black


  1. Hi Jake,

    Since you are from Indy, this will be very entertaining for you; the article is basically the Indy ALEC spin on the teacher shortage:

    In short the ALEC party line: excellent teaching candidates with other lucrative career prospects should now start wanting to become teachers because that would be awesome.

    I get the biggest kick out of the author's conclusion that: "And to those who did bolt from the profession because of tough standards and accountability, I say good riddance. They’re probably not someone either you or I would want teaching our kids."

    Gee wonder what his opinion would be if those were members of the military, or the police would those be people he'd wish "good riddance" to?

    1. And note the undercurrent from tge ALEC guy- teachers are replaceable, and should be grateful they even have a job!

      Oh wait, that's exactly the mentality ALEC and their puppets want the other 99% to have, while they grab all of the profits. Talk about takers!

  2. I taught high school as well, for four years before taking the higher ed job that brought me here. The removal, via Act 10, of pay increases for teachers pursuing a Masters really crippled some ed programs, and it's only getting worse. I suspect that was part of what was behind that idiot idea to let let pre-schoolers teach core subjects. That way, when there are no qualified teachers, someone's uncle Harvey VandenFreedom can step in.