Saturday, February 1, 2014

Go outside the Coven to Play Sports

I know that this is one of those cases in which it may be the same all over, but education politics are a CIRCUS in Indiana. We thankfully feel left outside of the fray *most* of the time, but seriously, Matt and I often joke about going to the school board meetings with a big bag of popcorn in hand, just to rubberneck the fighting.

So we've got this ridiculous school "grading" system in place, started by Tony Bennett, the former state superintendent (who, it later turned out, had tweaked this system as it was being written and revised until he arrived at one that specifically gave the school of one of his buddies a good grade), a dude who lost the recent election and instead went down to Florida to start some new education scandals there. Even though he lost the election to Glenda Ritz, the candidate that teachers and parents mostly voted for, he left behind all his buddies still in their powerful political positions, and all those buddies constantly do their best to thwart anything that Ritz attempts and to divest her of her powers. The governor invented this other group that he decided should make all of Ritz's decisions instead of her, and when she went to the meeting to protest it we all got to hear on the news this entire screaming fight that happened there. And then she wanted to file suit, but she couldn't, because she has to have a lawyer to represent her, but the only lawyer that she's apparently allowed to have is the attorney general, and he won't do it because he's in the governor's pocket.


So these grades are pretty arbitrary, based pretty much just on one or two of the many standardized tests that all the kids in every grade have to take every year, although the grades are also suspiciously correlated to the number of lower income kids at each school. But if you get an F for a few years running, the state government can apparently come and take over your school and even more bad things will happen, so it makes the principals and local school boards get all sweaty and panicky, and then they do all this other crazy stuff. The Friday before a three-day weekend the other week, all the kids at one of our elementary schools came home with letters to their parents saying that starting Monday, their entire school was being restructured based on each child's score in one of those standardized tests. They were all going to move classes and change teachers, and if they hadn't done well on the test they were going to be in smaller classes and do reading and math drills all freaking day, and if they had done well on the test they were going to be in large classes and not get paid attention to, probably. A bunch of the parents went nuts, of course, but all the kids had to do this anyway, except that then the principal changed her mind and moved everyone back again after, like, a day. I'm sure there was a LOT of instruction time going on during those two days!

So this panicky and sweaty local school board, terrified of getting taken over, does NOT want to lose any state funding (although they're happy to waste that state funding on gimmicky toys for each child) OR good students, and so even though we already have a charter school and a huge community of homeschoolers in town, the board is getting very prickly about outside incursion into the educational domain. This Waldorf charter school was working on an application to get started here, but then somehow the school admins managed to whip up public frenzy about charter schools taking away all the public schools' money (which they don't, but whatever) until the charter school had to withdraw so it could revise and resubmit its application after it had figured out how to combat the crazy, and then this deaf kid who does online school spearheaded this idea that wouldn't it be nice if non-traditional schoolkids could still play sports at the local schools, and the school admins kinda went nuts again.

Now add to this background the fact that the opinion page of our local newspaper is UH-MAZING. One of the "issues of the day" the other day was about the non-traditional schoolkids, and here's my favorite section of the responses:

My favorite part about the opinion page is that at some point, you can't even tell anymore who's being sarcastic and who's not. I snapped a picture of this section, just because I LOOOVE the coven quote, but I wish I'd also thought to show you the quote from the person who thinks that this is all a conspiracy to further destroy the public schools by diluting their sports teams.

Seriously. Although I guess that's not *really* that far out of the realm of possibility coming from a state that once contained a superintendent who geared the entire state's school grading system around giving one single school a good grade, sigh.


Tina said...

My brain is a little burnt out and starting I think I am getting a cold (darn transfer of germs!), but really? I'm kinda glad I don't really follow politics otherwise I would end up with a flat spot on my head from banging it against the wall.

Apparently all us homeschoolers a witches and wizards?

julie said...

I'm really bothered by the person who says that homeschoolers have a "reduced schedule," and therefore more time to practice sports. I mean, it's kinda true, since we can get through more school in three hours at home than the elementary school down the street can hope to accomplish all day, but that's not a "reduced" schedule, that's the efficiency that comes from a 2:1 student:teacher ratio, and not having to stand in line or raise hands, or pass out paper, or listen to 20 other kids ask questions that I answered already, etc.


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