No More Middle Ground: At this point, you are either for public education, or you are against it

Everything we crazy, paranoid teachers have been warning you about for the last decade is coming to pass right before our eyes. We told you that the new accountability system that tied teacher pay to standardized test results was not only flawed but completely inequitable and bigoted. We told you that the supermajority Indiana legislature was in bed with big money testing corporations. We told you that strings were being pulled behind closed doors so that every advantage would be given to pet charter schools or private schools to open the flood gates to push for more voucher money to be funneled out of public education. We warned you of the dire consequences of the growing teacher shortage caused by these and many other things. We told you that it’s only going to get worse.

It’s getting worse.

There has been a palpable shift in the brazen nature of our state’s GOP leadership. For the better part of two decades, they attempted to act as if they had the best of intentions for their reform policy; that it was about what’s “best for kids.” Teachers knew better all along since we are in there behind the scenes, too. But the general public was lulled to sleep by homespun rhetoric coming from the statehouse. As the 2020 election approaches, it is quite obvious that the governor and his supermajority soldiers feel they have nothing to fear and they are removing their masks and baring their teeth in front of God and everybody. In the wake of the massive teacher demonstration back in November, when the teachers’ voices were heard, if not by the elected leadership, by the general public, there has been an obvious shift by the governor and the legislature to go on the offensive in their war on public education. Bill after bill of good, common sense education reform has been quickly shot down in the state congress while they forge ahead with their attacks.

Just yesterday, while you weren’t looking, there was a last minute addition into a bill about tax issues. There was no fanfare about this addition, it was just slipped in with the shadowy dexterity of someone slipping bribe money into the pocket of a mobster. That addition to the tax reform bill would force traditional public schools to share with charter schools the money they get from the local tax referendums which they must work so diligently to get passed. This comes on the heels of another piece of recent legislation that would severely limit public school districts’ abilities to get referendums on the ballot in the first place. If the bill to force public schools to share the monies from their referendums with charter schools sounds familiar, it’s because it was attempted last year too but, thank God, failed to pass. It appears the GOP leadership isn’t going to rest until they get that done.

It’s hard to think of a more villainous move than the state stealing from the funds that desperate school corporations have to go begging for because the state is starving them of funding. If school districts were properly funded in the first place, there would be no need for any referendums. But in order to stay afloat, many districts have done the incredibly difficult work to get the extra money they need from their communities who are so generous to give a little extra for the cause of public education. And now you see your elected officials trying to rob public schools of even those funds. It makes me shiver to thing what might be coming next.

Teachers have been crying out to the wilderness hoping to catch the friendly ears of voters for years. At this point, there is no excuse to be uninformed when it comes to the war on public education. The pivotal time has come to choose the side on which you will make your stand: You are either for public education or against it.

Keep that in mind when you step into the voting booth in November.

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