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Letter to the editor: Vote politics out of education in 2014

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 12:01 am

Gov. Pence has voided our votes for Glenda Ritz. Using an executive order and millions of taxpayer dollars, he created a new education agency to marginalize and diminish the authority of our superintendent. Now it comes to light in a memo released by the Department of Education that this agency also sought to change Ritz’s position to one appointed by the governor.

After the release of this memo, the governor’s office accused Ritz of “playing political games.” In fact, all along we have heard the governor claim that he wants to keep “politics out of education.”

How stupid does he think we are?

As a mother of four, I voted for Ritz because of politics in education.

I have a third grader this year. What could be more political than the fact that his teacher, the person I entrust his care to every day and who knows best, is unable to determine whether or not he is ready to move on to fourth grade? Instead, politicians have decided that their 40-question test is a more accurate measure of his “success” than the professional opinion of his teacher.

When a kindergartener is forced to pay attention to an uninterrupted 90-minute block of reading instruction, you can bet that people who know nothing about child development are determining that policy.

Why do politicians vote for an A-F grading system of schools that is curved to ensure that nearly 34 percent are labeled “failures”? When there is not enough funding for public schools to provide school buses or the arts for our kids, why are politicians voting to expand vouchers that bleed our public school funding? Why do charters proliferate while public schools are closing?

Follow the money.

The third grade reading law, loss of teacher voices through elimination of collective bargaining, grading system of schools are all bills designed by those with a financial interest in seeing public education fail. Politics is saturating education.

Parents didn’t ask for a stigmatizing grading system for our kids’ schools. We already knew the test scores and whether our kids were happy and were learning. We didn’t ask for this idea of competition where an 8-year-old is labeled a “failure.” We want all of our children to have their constitutional right to a high-quality free public education. We want the experts, educators, to determine the direction of our kids’ school experiences. That is why we voted for Ritz. We hoped she could stop the American Legislative Exchange Council-sponsored corporate “reforms” of Bennett and Daniels. But it wasn’t enough. The Republican entrenched legislature and governor are determined to strip Ritz of any power she has.

You want politics out of education? Vote out this supermajority in 2014. Vote out Gov. Pence in 2016 before public education no longer exists.

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer