Dear Governor Holcomb,
I’m just going to come right to the point; with all due respect, sir, you are just another part of the plan and we see right through you. Your two predecessors set the table for you and now you stand ready to carry the torch of the shameful anti-public education agenda to the next level.
Mitch Daniels’ agenda became painfully obvious when he was governor, despite his slimy attempts to conceal it. He starved schools of property tax payments due to them while boasting about a surplus–the same surplus you continue to boast about–so much so that many school districts, mine included, had to take out huge bank loans just to make payroll. As this was going on, he was championing the school choice voucher system to funnel public tax money into private schools and put millions of dollars into charter schools. He had his henchman, Secretary of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, oversee his plan. We all remember how that ended, when Bennett was caught changing the school grade of one of his pet charter schools that did not perform up to his standards. Daniels skated above that fray until he was named as the President of Purdue University. Since he’s been there, his true colors have shown even more. Leaked emails revealed that he tried to have the work of historian Howard Zinn banned from Indiana’s public education institutions. More recently, he infamously referred to a black scholar as “one of the rarest creatures in America.” How that man still has a job is beyond me. But at least we know what he’s truly made of.
Then along came your pal, Mike Pence. You were named as his Lt. Governor and no doubt you were schooled well in strategies of the war against public education. After all, it was Mike Pence who, when Glenda Ritz shocked the world and defeated Tony Bennett in the education superintendent race in 2012, pulled one of the dirtiest anti-public education political maneuvers in history by creating a second state board of education and stripping most of the power from the duly elected Ritz. It is clear that Pence was not happy with the will of Indiana’s voters when it came to the direction of public education, so he just found a way to completely circumvent it. In your position as Chair of the Indiana Republican Party at that time, you must have been in awe of Pence’s bold power play. I’m sure you supported it so much so that Pence felt obligated to name you as Lieutenant Governor in 2016. Oh, yes, the old, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is a time-honored practice in smoke-filled political back rooms and it’s put many a man like you, Governor Holcomb, in the catbird’s seat.
And now you are the Commander-in-Chief of the war on public education in Indiana. You try to appear as if you want what’s best for Indiana’s teachers and students, but you, like your predecessors, just can’t hide your true agenda very well. The very evening of the incredible show of solidarity among Indiana teachers during the Red for Ed Action Day Rally on the lawn of the Statehouse–and event you didn’t attend as you were conveniently out of town–you took to social media to attempt to undermine the message sent by the teachers by touting how big the state’s budget for education is. With all due respect, Governor Holcomb, that’s like saying America’s economy is booming because the mega-wealthy are getting mega-wealthier. Because of your education reform policies, that money that you brag about spending is not getting to the places or people most in need of it. In fact, because of your insane school accountability formula, the schools needing the most funding are getting less and less each year. But you know that misleading statements like you made that night are all your supporters need to hear. They buy into your agenda and claim that the money is wasted by school boards and administrations. It’s pure deception and you know it, sir.
Your disdain for public education leaked again this week, Governor Holcomb. Yesterday, you went proudly public with the news that state employees would be receiving up to a 6% raise effective in February. It must have been a nice feather in your cap to announce that. However, teachers were not among the state employees eligible. Other state employees get a raise, teachers, well, we’re still looking into that matter, you say.
So, Governor Holcomb, you’ll have to pardon me if I come off sounding hostile. Frankly, it is you, sir, who comes off as hostile to me and many thousands of other public school teachers across this state whenever you address public education matters. What else are we supposed to think? We know that you know that we know what you are up to. That matters not one bit to you, though, because you think you can count on your supporters to push you through again in November. That’s what makes teachers feel violated. You are pulling this off in broad daylight and nobody outside of the sphere of education seems to notice. That’s a big factor in the fact that so many of our teacher ranks have fled the profession. But keep this in mind, sir; we vote–we vote whether we are active teachers or former teachers. We also have a lot of friends who vote. We have a strong candidate ready to run against you in Eddie Melton. He is a friend of public education. He is enlisting the help of teachers in his role as state senator to have a voice in education legislation. He has a forward-thinking platform that should appeal to Indiana’s working class. We are going to do everything in our power to make sure he is a household name before November comes along, you can count on that.
In closing, Governor Holcomb, you have less than a year to continue to damage Indiana’s public schools, teachers, and students. Less than a year. You’d better get ready for a fight after that. Eddie Melton is coming for your job and he’ll have an army of educators and our friends at his disposal. If you thought the sea of red outside the statehouse was something, sir, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
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