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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Real choice

If this is really true, good for them:

If they take over the Indiana House, Republicans will launch a major campaign for competitive-oriented education reform in next year's General Assembly.

Look for a big push for grants to low-income families so they can have school choice, and a big boost for charter schools in Indianapolis.

[. . .]

Mitch Daniels could actually get major reforms adopted. He doesn't want to hear excuses for failing schools. Nor does his close Republican ally, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. They are pushing for merit pay for teachers but want even bolder changes.

House Republican Minority Leader Brian Bosma is calling for more school options for low-income parents and may get his way if he leads fellow Republicans to a majority in the House of Representatives.

To boost competition among schools for low-income families, Bosma suggests that students in failing schools be given the option to take their tax dollars to any school. "I want to inject competition into the school system," Bosma said.

Charter schools are just a baby step toward real choice. A true voucher system -- with dollars following the students, to whichever public or private schools their parents choose to send them -- is the bold change that could really shake up public education enough to improve things. But it's also the bold change the education establishment will resist with everything it has -- just consider the opposition charter schools have faced. Such a drastic step might not make it through the General Assembly -- not yet, at least -- but I'd still like to hear the debates.


Fri, 09/10/2010 - 9:59am

Point taken, but remember the law of unintended results. Charter Schools pay a great deal less than the already anemic salaries local teachers earn.
The better teachers will simply move to districts with better-paying schools, leaving only the inferior teachers.
I'm not sure that's desirable. I'm aware of you reluctance to pay for public services, but surely you'd grant that good teachers a worth a little bit of your tax money.

tim zank
Fri, 09/10/2010 - 10:11am

Littlejohn "Charter Schools pay a great deal less than the already anemic salaries local teachers earn.
The better teachers will simply move to districts with better-paying schools, leaving only the inferior teachers."

How do you explain those parochial schools like Dwenger, Luers & Concordia that crank out far better results than FWCS and pay their teachers less than those "anemic" salaries at FWCS??

Fri, 09/10/2010 - 4:46pm

Tim, I admit that I can't, because I don't know if your assumptions are correct.
The schools you listed are, as far as I know, parochial, religious schools. I confess I know nothing about them, or what they pay.
My wife teaches at a LEAD school, which, if it doesn't perform well, may be converted to a charter school. All the teachers seem to be aware of how much their pay will be cut if that happens. My wife is an excellent teacher with two masters degrees. She will leave for another state if that happens, and her school will be worse off for it.
I'm not sure why you put "anemic" in quotes. Are you under the impression that first-year teachers, such as my wife, are well-paid? They're paid about the same as local newspaper copy editors. Leo might want to weigh in about that.
If the parochial school teachers are poorly paid, but turn out good students, that's commendable.
But correlation and causation are not the same thing. Among the many possible confounding factors are that the private schools attract higher-achieving students from wealthier families. Also, if the teachers do tolerate lower pay, perhaps they are motivated more by their religious beliefs than the desire to make money. Maybe they're just trying to avoid the poor minority students my wife teaches on the south side of town. I'm just saying you can't compare apples with oranges.
But, as always, I am always happy to hear your thoughts.