Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mediation Fails To Resolves Differences Between Ritz And State Board Members

I don't think anyone actually believed that bringing in a national mediator from the national association representing school boards would succeed in resolving the differences between State Supt. Glenda Ritz and the board members appointed by Gov. Mike Pence. It's clear that the rubber stamp board members' only goal is to ensure that the new agency established by Pence, Center for Education and Career Innovation, makes education policy and not the state's Department of Education.

Ritz shared with the media an e-mail an attorney hired by Pence's office at the CECI which outlined ways of minimizing Ritz' role over board matters, including a change in law to allow Pence to appoint the board's chairperson. The October 3 e-mail was authored by Claire Fiddian-Green and was found on the Department's e-mail server when Fiddian-Green was still using an e-mail account housed on the Department's server. According to the Journal-Gazette's Niki Kelly, Ritz confronted Pence with the e-mail during a meeting with him last week. A spokesperson for Pence says that Pence rejected the proposal and insists the e-mail was never circulated among state board members.

What's going on here is very simple. The people appointed to the state board are put there to pursue policies that will enrich interests seeking to profiteer from education under the guise of education reform. Fiddian-Green served as Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board Association before joining the Pence administration. Prior to that, she worked for the Mind Trust, which is run by David Harris, a political crony of former Mayor Bart Peterson, who is a now a Vice President at Eli Lilly, the same place former Gov. Mitch Daniels worked as a high-level executive. Where did Fiddian-Green work before the Mind Trust? She was a senior analyst in Eli Lilly's Corporate Finance Investment Banking group. It's a small world.

So it came as little surprise when Pence appointed a former Peterson political hack, Gordon Hendry, to the state board as a Democrat member and he's quickly become an outspoken critic of Ritz to give the false appearance the opposition to her is bipartisan, a meme that hack State House reporters like Jim Shella are more than willing to serve up to you. It's like the scene in "The Shooter" where Sen. Charles Meacham tells Bob Lee Swagger that there are no sides. "There's no Republicans or Democrats. There's no Sunnis and Shiites. There's only haves and have-nots." Ritz is a thorn in the side of those who are profiteering off of education in Indiana. She will either have to join forces with the haves or see her role reduced to nothing more than a ceremonial figure head. The goal is to turn education into a big money machine for the haves, not to improve the quality of education in Indiana.


Anonymous said...

What must happen within Indiana schools if we are to stop this state's generation-upon-generation headlong slide into ignorance:

1. Education majors must stand equally with all other majors in eligibility to teach. No special privilege or heightened eligibility must be afforded Education majors in sitting for the teacher test.

2. A test must be given to all college graduates who wish to teach, irrespective of college major. This teacher test will measure verbal, mathematical, and analytical skills. This test will generate a score. The test will be difficult.

3. In an opening for a teaching position, the applicant with the highest score on the teacher test is presumptively the best and most qualified candidate for the job.

More changes are needed, and I will proffer those at the required moment.

Unless we enact this foundational improvement, nothing downstream will ever improve.

Anonymous said...

Even with this messy standstill, we are better off without Bennett and his encampment of lowest common denominator cronies. I would encourage Ritz to keep up the fight; in this case the best thing she can do for education in Indiana is to stand in the way of this board, thus neutralizing those awful profiteering interests that stand to severely harm the quality of education in this state. Why is there so much greed in Indiana politics? The people of Indiana elected her, and Pence should listen to the wishes of the people and back that up than undermine it and allow the Indiana G.O.P. to smear a democratically elected official.

Indy Rob said...

What proof is there to support the idea that the current generation is more ignorant than the previous? Just saying that it is important to understand the actual problem before trying any fixes.

This seems to be more of a result of looking at today's college students and comparing them to previous groups and finding today's group as having more individual students with academic shortcomings than previous groups while ignoring the impact of "everyone goes to college" instead of shortcomings in the existing secondary education.

When everyone goes to college, you end up with a higher percentage of essentially dumb students. Make colleges more selective and magically, the student population will be smarter; open college enrolment up, and notice that the student population is (on-average) dumber.

Secondary schools are probably about the same as they were thirty years ago, but still could be improved. Just do not let the politicians and profiteers overstate the problem for gain.

Let Ritz figure out how to make Indiana schools more effective in teaching and stop trying to use this process to justify more charter schools and/or paying teachers less.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The standing of students educated in America is falling dramatically relative to the rest of the industrialized world. That's undisputed. We have a public education system that needs fixed. My criticism of the charter school movement is the shifting of public dollars to profiteers who are doing no better educating students contrary to the claims of their proponents. Starving existing public schools to finance the start-up of charter schools, or sending money to private schools with their own agenda leaves traditional public schools saddled with debt on school buildings built to support a much larger enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Why are Education majors afraid of facing competition from the rest of the disciplines on campus?

Indy Rob said...

Here is a quote that demonstrates the state government's complete lack of any sort of sense when it comes to having qualified teachers in the classroom.

Fiddian-Green, who gets paid $120,000 per year as CECI co-directors sees nothing wrong with her idea that quality teachers are willing to work for less just because there are needy children. She was talking about teachers moving to charter schools and accepting salaries of 14,000 to 21,000 less per year, and trying to make up some of the difference through bonuses.

"Claire Fiddian-Green, co-director of CECI, said teachers would receive a flat amount of extra salary. How much has not yet been determined.

She said she hoped it would be enough to create an effective incentive, especially for teachers who are motivated more by a mission to serve needy children than by money. ”It gives more choices to teachers if there is some structural reason that keeps you from moving to do mission-oriented work in a D or F school that serves a high percentage of free or reduced-price lunch kids,” Fiddian-Green said. “Is this the extra boost that gives you that added oomph to make the bridge over there?”"

Yeah Claire, why don't you donate your time to the state for free?