We’ve been talking about school reform and pointing to the republicans in Indianapolis who are determined to convert our public schools into a corporate run system to eliminate teacher unions which will assign a commodity price to every student within the system. Yesterday, Glenda Ritz wrote a letter where she literally slapped a white glove across the face of Governor Mike Pence and she needs our support.
Let me take a step back and tie this together with everything else we have been talking about on Muncie Voice. In a nut shell, the extreme right-wing of the republican party (Tea Party) has demonized the public education system because of its programming and operation by teacher unions. They believe the poor performance of late is due to bad teachers who are protected by the unions.
Diane Ravitch is a leading authority on education reform and she wrote an article about ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council. This group has operated in the shadows for 40 years and only recently has come to light. The group is financed by the Koch brothers and other large corporate interests who are free market conservatives. They also support the Tea Party, think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the State Policy Network which operates the Indiana Policy Review for which Andrea Neal and Cecil Bohannon are members. They write for Muncie StarPress and Andrea Neal was appointed to the State Education Board for which Glenda Ritz chairs.
ALEC consists of the top 300 corporations who give monies to “educate and train” legislators on free market concepts and promote ALEC’s ideas on how to change the course of education along with other free market, anti-government programs. If you want to know who is behind shutting down our federal government, the Wisconsin battles, Arizona immigration debates, etc., one doesn’t need to dig very far to find ALEC and the brothers Koch.
As we’ve mentioned many times, they generally work in states run by republicans which have a press corp catering to a conservative base. Indiana is one of those targeted states.
The Mitch Daniels and Tony Bennett emails where Mitch called Howard Zinn “liberal excrement” and Tony Bennett was caught deceptively changing school grades for charter schools all fit the mentality of these right-wing ideologues who are attacking public education; unions; workers; consumers; voters; environment; immigrants; and altering the tax code to help large corporate interests.
This is the buzz saw that our one lone Democrat, Glenda Ritz, has stepped into. Her board members, all appointed by Mitch and Mike, consist of members associated with ALEC and agree with killing public education in favor of corporate owned charter schools taught by “teachers” who lack formal training in education, so they’ll work for less money. Hoosiers overwhelmingly supported Glenda Ritz because teachers and parents rallied around her – those of us outside school reform didn’t know what was going, We are catching up…
Why should we care?
Like all communities in Indiana, Muncie agreed to turnover our fiscal handling of schools to the state in exchange for property tax caps. Taxpayers who jumped on the idea of saving money didn’t understand the full ramification – these savings came at a price. The local “Good Government Group” who were primary cheerleaders for lower taxes didn’t explain the “HOOK”.
The “HOOK” for saving money on property taxes was giving up financial control to the state who raised our sales tax from 6-7%. The intent was to give extra money to fund public schools, but they changed their minds. In fact, Mitch Daniels cut $330 million from the school’s budget while he was governor.
So, not only is Muncie Community Schools operating with less money due to tax caps, the decline of property values and the recession, it is also going up against the Tea Party’s efforts, led by Mike Pence, to privatize the education system. Their goal is to starve public education to the point it fails and then start corporate owned charters in our communities.
Neat trick, huh?
If you notice, neither the Indy Star or local StarPress have never covered these issues and even last week, Matthew Tully, the ace reporter with the Indy Star told Glenda Ritz to “get over the partisan bickering:”.
Right now, Glenda is the only person in Indiana who stands in the way of privatizing our public school system. She needs our support.
Here is an excerpt from the letter she wrote to the Indy Star yesterday:
I must not tolerate a power-grab of the Department of Education’s authority and ability to conduct business for Indiana students. Last November, Hoosier voters said very clearly that they want me to fight for public education in our state and to serve as a check and balance to the governor. It is now clear that Gov. Pence is not seeking a power-grab, but rather a complete takeover of education. That is the real threat to our children.
This isn’t your normal political bickering. The Koch brothers have spent billions on creating a propaganda network by acquiring think-tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and State Policy Networks to publish literature supporting their free market, anti-government rhetoric in local newspapers.
They use ALEC to create legislation (bills and resolutions) and send to republican governors like Mike Pence and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who than carry out in the state legislature. They funnel millions through foundations and non-profits which go toward political candidates and Tea Party groups who write letters to local papers endorsing their candidates and attacking opponents. And yes, even writing letters meant to confuse voters about bus referendums.
Glenda Ritz needs the support of every Hoosier in Indiana because she is the only representative who epitomizes the values we cherish in this state. Quite frankly, if Hoosiers decide that the Koch brothers and their band of Tea Party misfits should be rewarded for these acts of deception, then Indiana just isn’t a state worth living in.