Stuck state

Dateline: Wed 30 Mar 2011

Three issues covered in the Indianapolis Star this morning point to how fettered Indiana is by old, tired ideas. We must not be thinkers here in Indiana, because we keep coming up with the same, old, tired solutions.


The Legislature's zeal at once again killing any effort, ever, for the state to recognize same-sex marriage. We already have a ban on gay marriage, but now we have to have another one -- it's like trying to kill a vampire.  If the sun won't do the job, get the wooden stake.  The result? We look, sound and act like idiots. For shame, those of you who voted for this and champion it.

Pay for food-service workers and bartenders -- $2.13 an hour???? Dana Hunsinger Benbow's front-page story puts a spotlight on this inequity and adds insult to injury by noting that so often, diners tip no more than 10 percent, if that. So we are not only narrow-minded and stupid, but we are cheap, too. Shame.

Read, please, the Q and A with the Washington, D.C., school chief, Michelle Rhee -- a Democrat who is in favor of school choice. She saw first-hand the desire of poor families to escape from under-performing schools and the effect on families when they had an opportunity to make choices. She also criticizes, correctly, the nonsense of laying off new teachers vs. those with seniority. That's another union issue. Plus, she has some interesting ideas about regulating schools and not letting the free market prevail. Read it.|topnews|text|

On this school choice issue: Mitch Daniels and the reformers are right. Dems who can't get their heads around this need for reform are stuck as well.

But where there is life, there is hope.  Lots of good people plugging away at this. Thanks to Scott Elliott at the Star who reported on Rhee's thoughts.




Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Tully's column this morning is enlightened. He says it may be a good thing for the GA to vote to move toward ratification of the anti-gay bill in a couple years...because it will NOT pass as the electorate becomes younger, more informed and more enlightened. Tully calls the bill a bonehead move that hopefully advocates will eventually pay a political price.

2011-03-30 09:29:11

hendy [Member] said:

Gotta hand it to the legislature: Stars and Bars Forever. Pass me the grits.

But Ruth, on the vouchers: you're dead wrong. Public money doesn't go to pay for parochial schools. Indeed litigation will ensue, and it'll be declared unconstitutional. Public money doesn't fund religious education, period paragraph page chapter and book.

I REEL when I watch this space full of union members not recognizing that the Supt of Ed and Gov are in a direct move to KILL TEACHERS UNIONS. Worse, it dilutes by slow death the long investments we've made in public education. Do you think that WGU was designed to enhance Purdue and Indiana U and Ball State etc? No. Fools==> it's a shot across the bow. Gruesome (and irresponsible) Greed.

Instead: you use GUTS and fix what's wrong and move on, spending what's necessary, not one cent less or one cent more. The Gruesome Greed stuff has to go. You turn back the clock of *public* education by supporting Daniel's agenda. Soon we're Alabama and Arizona. Think about that. Racism, Xenophobia, Pastoral agendas.

Even the anti-gay marriage law is wrong. To make it a Constitutional Amendment shows the fear and Gruesome Greed agenda. Drop an anchor NOW. It's a ludicrous far-right pastoral agenda. YOU know gay men in your own parish church that deserve the right to be joined under God if they commit. Deny them, and you deny not only reality but equal protection for all.

2011-03-30 09:56:03

Gary Welsh [unverified] said:

Hunsinger's story neglects to point out that many restaurants and bars pay an hourly rate well above that minimum amount. It tends to be the high end restaurants where servers and bar tenders earn subsantial amounts in tips that pay the minimum amount. The bigger complaint you hear from service industry employees is the refusal of their employers to pay health care benefits. Very few of them offer a benefit that most other workers take for granted.

2011-03-30 11:08:27

Jason [unverified] said:

Tax dollars, directly and indirectly, have been paying for faith-based initiatives (to include religious education) in all shapes and sizes for quite some time. For starters I would point out all the grants to faith-based groups the city and federal government give out every year. That's the tip of the iceberg. Besides, nobody's forcing anybody to do anything, it's about choice. If you don't like it leave your kids where they're at.

Yes, I'm sure Ken Falk will complain, because Ken Falk complains. He'll throw his big bucket of pasta on the wall and see what sticks. Watch out if they win. Indiana's schools will continue to stagnate, and we'll be stuck in the perpetual loop of failure with which everybody seems content. This is no different than people who have been waiting for 30 years for the fed to close the border and are perfectly content to wait for 30 more.

The jump from school vouchers to racism and xenophobia just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Then again, neither do 3 bus transfers at 3 different schools and a 45-minute bus ride to school every morning. I guess when it comes to THAT status quo we're happy.

Then again, this isn't about school choice anymore, it's about the yellow, er, blue 49% minority who decided to screw the will of the majority. Once everybody at the statehouse gets over their "all about me" mentality then we might have movement. I doubt it...

2011-03-30 11:26:08

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"So we are not only narrow-minded and stupid, but we are cheap, too."

Pence's widely extolled Hoosier Values, which he says he is running on, for something, TBD.

2011-03-30 14:09:53

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"I REEL when I watch this space full of union members not recognizing that the Supt of Ed and Gov are in a direct move to KILL TEACHERS UNIONS. Worse, it dilutes by slow death the long investments we've made in public education."

I've read bunches of stuff about that Rhee lady and she has every appearance of being a whacko. She even admits she was wrong in her head-chopping approach in D.C. I read a thing a couple of days ago that she is being blamed for overseeing some creative "adjustments" of student score results while working in DC. I don't know whether that is truth or rumor, but the point is that this woman was/is no Joan of Arc.

I'm sure she's out on the lecture circuit right now making loads of money and planning a book deal in which she describes how she was prevented from saving the world from bands of evil, blood-sucking, old public school teachers.

Hendy we are on the same page with this one, except you said it much better than I ever could (which is customary with you).

Why is it that every public school teacher in Indiana over age 40 now has a proverbial "bullseye" on their backs?

Why is it presumed that just because a teacher has been at it for 20 years or so that he/she has become incompetent and uncaring about the children?

When I was doing newspaper reporting, I covered education and spent a lot of time in teachers' classrooms. It was amazing to me how much energy they had to expend to keep the kids focused. I walked out of those classrooms thinking that teachers are some of the most hard-working people in America.

I did a piece about an elementary teacher who received a major award. This guy was in his 50s at the time and had been teaching for 30 years and he was still keenly passionate in every way about his work and the children. He could run circles around most 30 year olds.

This crap going on with Mitch and the right-wing extremists in the General Assembly is all about money. Get rid of one veteran, experienced teacher and his/her salary - hire two new kids right out of college. That's the gig. It's not about the children, it's about the money.

When the Star started systematically finding ways to get rid of so many of its older and more experienced newsroom people, did clear-headed critics blame it on the incompetency of the experienced reporters, columnists, section editors?

I don't think so.

I've got a kid of my own who wants to be a public school teacher. I tell him that if teacher unions and collective bargaining are dissolved, he'd better find another career to pursue.

As long as it's not newspaper journalism.

2011-03-30 15:28:22

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

That's the link to the previous story I mentioned about right-wing education hero Michelle Rhee's alleged cheating controversy. From

Headline is:

"Paranoid Michelle Rhee blames her 'enemies' for cheating report.

Like I said, whacko.

2011-03-30 15:40:26

hendy [Member] said:

@Jason, it's not constitutional to pay for a child's religious education as a replacement of public school allocations. Never was, never will be. It supports a religion. We don't do that. Parents are completely free to support their child's religious school classes. Mine did: to me. I was in parochial schools for 8 of the first 12. No public funds were paid. And that's as it should be. This isn't about red or blue, it's about pastoral legislative agendas.

If we have freedom of religion, freedom of expression, then it's my freedom and yours to use it as we see fit. One of them is the separation of church and state-- something that my ancestors fought hard for. Don't shove someone's catechism down the throats of others. You won't like it, either.

I have no nexus to bring suit; my children are through the public school system, and successfully. Were I a few years younger, I'd jump into litigation in a heartbeat if public funds were used to finance Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or any other parochial education. It's not to be done, and when it becomes tried, it will fail, after hundreds of former attempts have failed. It is not done, and with good reason: public financing of parochial education.

2011-03-30 15:52:48

VladtheImpaler [unverified] said:

"Tully's column this morning is enlightened. He says it may be a good thing for the GA to vote to move toward ratification of the anti-gay bill in a couple years...because it will NOT pass as the electorate becomes younger, more informed and more enlightened. Tully calls the bill a bonehead move that hopefully advocates will eventually pay a political price."

So, using Tully's reasoning, those who approve of a same-sex marriage ban are the antithesis: less informed and less enlightened? That's quite a condescending and bigoted statement of its own. Many of us grow weary of such a vilification tactic by gay rights activists. Oh, it's quite a clever way to bully one's opposition, but some of us rubes will forever cling to our opposing beliefs despite the totalitarian group-think that accepts no dissenting opinions. It does not make us less enlightened or less informed. Nice try, Tully.

2011-03-30 17:02:58

hendy [Member] said:

Are you less informed? Are you less enlightened? I don't find Tully's words condescending. I find anti-gay attitudes to be bigoted. We are informed about yours. Tolerance takes courage sometimes. You have not a thing to fear from gay marriage. Nothing at all. It diminishes you in not a single way. It takes the commitment of two people to make it work.

LGBT sex? Not for some people.No one's asking you to be gay, or anything else than what you are. Instead, people of the same sex that want to commit together want the legal right to do that. No one's nose belongs in the bedrooms of others unless there's genuine physiological/psychological damage going on.

2011-03-30 18:31:44

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Vlad: how can you take one or two words from a whole post or article and come to that conclusion? Are you daft?

This gay activist doesn't want to call it "marriage." That mocks my parents' 60-year marriage.

But the Indiana Constitution forbids different treatment for Hoosiers under the law. it's really that simple.

Please forgive us if we use unfortunate words sometimes, to describe the pro-HJR6 folks. Their logic, and their legal reasoning, were sophomorish. THey're hateful, too--I've dealt with all three leaders of the major pro-HJR6 organizations. Pure hate. And yes, it does make us look stupid.

Jason: I usually enjoy your posts, but when you've had more experience in school budgets and governance, get back to us. You're so full of crap on this one that the LIGHT from the Planet Crap won't reach your front porch for years. I don't even know where to start. But Hendy takes a good whack at it.

2011-03-30 20:10:23

Jason [unverified] said:

TTT, when you say you enjoy my posts I already know you're fibbing! I wasn't referring to school budgets and governance, as I freely (and openly display) admit my ignorance here. I'm referring to the fear among people that vouchers may end up in the hands of faith-based schools.

The rub is that people equate freedom of religion with freedom from religion. If people really go all in on this, why don't they protest when the Valedictorian gives a prayer at graduation and isn't given a lengthy prison sentence for violating so many constitutional rights? Where's the hue and cry when we're funding madrasahs overseas or giving money to all these church-based groups in the city? When we get down to it, how is that any different than letting parochial schools allow students to attend for free through tax-advantaged 'stewardship' programs? That money has to be made up somewhere, doesn't it? I can understand why people want to turn a blind eye and simply say this or that doesn't count, I truly do. However, if the only argument against school vouchers is that they're going to be unconstitutional because our tax dollars will more directly sent to faith-based organizations, I think it kind of falls flat.

Listening to some of the radio ads, I think part of the confusion is the anti-choice people think that traditional public schools will lose funding regardless of how many students they have in attendance (that is what the anti-choice ads were suggesting.) My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that this is not true, the money will simply follow the child, so schools will have no more or less per capita than they had to begin with.

2011-03-31 03:20:54

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that this is not true, the money will simply follow the child, so schools will have no more or less per capita than they had to begin"

There are minimum operating costs for a classroom that presume X number of students. If public schools lose students and their funding, the cost per remaining student goes up, even to an unsustainable level. The diminishment of students and diversion of their money WILL have an effect on public classroom quality. The per capita money may be the same, but it may sink to an inoperable level.

Further, no public monies should support any faith based institution, including schools.

2011-03-31 06:20:40

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Legislative zeal is now making it more difficult for a woman to have a choice about pregnancy. The wingnuts have proclaimed that abortion leads to breast cancer.

I wonder if our legislators know that hairplugs lead to impotence.

Well, there's absolutely no scientific evidence of either assertion, but you know, I just feel it could be true. And if we include the connection between abortion and cancer in a bill that becomes law, then it must be true, right?

2011-03-31 06:26:06

varangianguard [unverified] said:

I have decided to take the tack that anti-gay marriage people are anti-American as well.

Last time I checked we don't live in a theocracy (yet), and that the Constitution made certain promises that some people continually have to be dragged into accepting (like racial equality and womens' suffrage, to name two).

If you personally don't care for gay marriage, fine. But, you don't have any right to try to and keep anybody else from it. Making up bogus laws in an attempt to justify (or validate) your own lifestyle is waving a flag that you shouldn't be casting stones at anybody else.

2011-03-31 06:26:50

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Damn, Varan, that's brilliant.

Jason, no, I'm not disingenuous. I do enjoy many of your posts.

But here's the school budget puzzle, boiled-down:

First and foremmost, ANY money flowing to religious school was, is and shall always be unconstitutional. Federal and state. There are some exceptions, such as Special Ed participation. But they're covered by special Title programs, with very specific rules. The public mjoney mukst be segregated and the public assistance, by personnel or money or both, must not touch the religiouis side of the school's program. There's a large office within the US DOE that monitors that very aggressively. They interact with the Dept. of Justice hourly. God bless 'em.

Second, there are reverse-allowable programs everywhere. If your child attends a religious school, and they have no atheltic program, or art, you're allowed to arrange participation in those specific programs at your district school. Free. (Well, kidna, ya know, in the sense that all school is "free")

Third, multiple courts have ruled that Scripture/specific-religion prayer ARE improper at Commencements. I whole-heartedly agree. I want it off my money and I want to smack Woody Burton for putting it on our license plates, too.

Whatever happens to school vouchers this session, I'm pretty confident that even Indiana's "activist judges" will strike down anything that breaks this long tradition and established case law.

2011-03-31 09:02:21

guy77money [unverified] said:

"This crap going on with Mitch and the right-wing extremists in the General Assembly is all about money. Get rid of one veteran, experienced teacher and his/her salary - hire two new kids right out of college. That's the gig. It's not about the children, it's about the money." I agree 100 percent! I would love to see Mitch try to teach a inner city high school class for a week! He would be eaten alive! Enough with the teachers lets fix the department of education at the federal level first! Of course it doesn't help when you have bad superintendents such as Dr. White running IPS. Heck the union workers at Ford and Chevy didn't design and approve all those bad vehicles. It was the management that sent the auto makers down the tubes.

2011-03-31 11:51:20

Jason [unverified] said:

Thank you for the perspective Mr. Greenacres, I'll mull that over for a while.

TTT, I understand that, but my point is that it's been going on for years. If you look through the list of pet-project grants the city gives out every year, there are an enormous number of them given to faith-based organizations.

I think where we disagree is that I don't see a difference between that and the things I mentioned previously, however others draw the line at a different point. No worries. FWIW, I'm with you on the license plates, in that they're stupid and pointless.

In regard to the scripture comment, I understand that. However, what effectively happens when someone violates that is an agent of the government (i.e. the student) violates both a court order and the first amendment rights of everybody who has to suffer through the prayer. That's a prison-worthy offense last time I checked, but when a student calls their bluff the whole thing kind of goes away. I can remember praying with several public schools after sporting events in high school, and I've seen it happen since. Not that it's right, but my point is that's how a lot of people still function nevertheless. People are stubborn by nature.

Reverse-allowable programs. Vouchers digging so far into operating costs at schools they'll be forced to close.
Arrgh, I hate when you people give me homework...

2011-03-31 12:07:56

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

OK, Jason, truce. But you offered up shcool budget opinions, then transferred your ange rin that las tpost to city budgets. Stick to one argument, OK?

Schools are a lot more emotional for we taxpayers than city budgets.

We ought to get fired-up about city budgets, because there are millions wasted. It's mind-boggling.

2011-03-31 13:19:02

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"Further, no public monies should support any faith based institution, including schools."
Excellent point, Tom.

Let's see what happens when the "Bat-head Biting Demon Lovers from Hell, Central Indiana Chapter" seeks public support for their new charter school.

Apparently, the fundamentalists in the Statehouse haven't mulled over that possibility.

"I would love to see Mitch try to teach a inner city high school class for a week! He would be eaten alive!"

Guy 77 - also a great point. I'd love to see that happen, too. Send Mitch and the rest of the Republicans on substitute teaching duty up at John Marshall for a week or two.

2011-03-31 13:32:17

hendy [Member] said:

My brother-in-law taught for IPS then the International School. He was so deeply saddened by the fact that he was essentially a baby sitter at Manual HS. A few kids that were genuinely interested tried to rise above the muck, but it was tough for them. Such are demographics.... and also why busing was a first step towards leveling the playing field towards the benefit of all. It seems counterintuitive to lower standards to raise them. But as cited on WFYI's rebroadcast this afternoon, we lack pre-school learning, along with the identification of remediation needed by very young people. By the time first grade rolls around, we've lost a lot of time.

Don't worry about the funding of parochial schools. It won't get past the first litigation. I'm not worried about charters anymore; the bill will get kicked and we'll return. Yet funding problems will now come to fore.... and the deep wounds of the Daniels Administration.

Gone, gone, gone, the goodwill.

2011-03-31 14:04:56

Jason [unverified] said:

I might not've done a well enough job of drawing my thoughts together. My point is if it's unconstitutional for faith-based (we'll just say parochial) schools to receive any government funds then it should be unconstitutional for any faith-based institution to receive government funds, and it's obviously not (or it would've been quelled by now.)

Can't speak for the nitty gritty details in regard to oversight and management, because my education is limited primarily to media-driven cases which I'm sure don't represent the majority of situations we're talking about.

If we truly wanted to level the playing field, we'd be starting at home, not in school. Most of these kids fail before they even get in the front door. The kid that flunked his spelling test actually flunked it the night before when he was out buying some chocolate milk with his mom at 2 in the morning. Then mom wants to turn around and blame the teacher not raising her child. We can't legislate parenting.

So we'll continue to see the same with a slightly downward trajectory like we always have. I do believe giving parents who care the choice to send their kids to better schools is a much better way to go, because it would be providing more opportunity for more people. As much as the truth hurts, we can't save everybody, we can't help people who can't or won't help themselves (to include parents perhaps moreso than children), and those who want help will continue to be dragged down by lower expectations.

2011-03-31 16:52:03

hendy [Member] said:

@Jason, we agree on the funding religious organizations. The "faith-based"initiatives in some cases were thinly veiled ways of doing just that.

In other cases, funding of initiatives to produce results meant that the only real way to get a job done was to involve private organizations, some of whom were plainly religious. However, these organizations were confined to services provided non-denominationally, and without discrimination, or so the contracts read, and case law supports.

It would be wonderful to start in the home. In IPS, 75% of the households with school children going to IPS HAVE NO FATHER. Getting mom to be involved (or grandma, etc.) is really difficult when you may be watching more than one child, and/or have job responsibilities to feed the family. Let's repeat the number: 75%.

Sometimes kids don't even get breakfast, or meals on the weekend. As you observe, we often can't do much, but what we can do is to feed kids, try to give them upward trajectory, not cannibalize their public school funds by killing their teacher's union, waffling with year to year funding allocations, and making the jobs of administrators a nightmare in finance.

Each year, the budgets go down, and matching money requires lots of compliance paperwork to complete for administrators-- instead of watching teachers and student outcomes. Administrators are up to their ears in paperwork, some of it for very valid reasons, and some of it to satisfy the constituency of bureaucrats-- other times to provide assessable data.

The blame game must meet the test of reality. Vouchers only put new schools into business, instead of fixing what we have. Steady funding, real concern, and focusing on the specific and individual needs of children (some in need) helps. The legislature in this session has taken the Republican Party national line, and ram-rodded it through. Kill the unions-- unions aren't business friendly and they cost money. Qu'elle surprise, as the French say. Quality costs.

2011-03-31 18:13:38

cranky [unverified] said:

There are many states that already have vouchers, so where are the stats on their experiences? Some good and some bad I am sure. Odd how facts are never cited in this fear of voucher debate.
I'll leave it to the next poster to explain to me why federal student grants can be sent to say, Catholic universities. And surely, medicare payments are being rec'd at both St. V's and St. Francis?
I've substitute taught in schools with similarly economically deprived demographics as IPS. I was struck that their families did not seem to value education. Instead of homework, there was a huge focus on trendy media, fashion, friends, hair-dos. If the home-life does not value the school-life, it's a loosing battle.

2011-03-31 19:57:28

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

It may be that vouchers and charter schools will be just one bureauracy replacing another. The charters will constitute Big Business (as they have proven through corporately trying to influence state legislatures in other states, leading to massive fines). Will they, as a category, be any better than the colossal machine they have begun replacing?

And will "public education" suffer as mini fiefdoms replace the education moguls?

2011-04-01 06:52:03

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"medicare payments are being rec'd at both St. V's and St. Francis?"

Can't quite manage that analogy (in comparison to public funding for private religion schools).

I utilize the services of St. Francis quite frequently and they've never forced me to go to mass before getting a blood test or a chest x-ray.

I'm protestant and I've never had a doctor or lab person at either St. Vs or St. Francis try to convert me to Catholicism with the lure of a free rosary.

I guess someone could make an argument (against government money going to those Catholic hospitals) that abortions are not performed, but there are many non-religion medical facilities that also don't perform abortions.

2011-04-01 14:04:13

cranky [unverified] said:

Well, Whitebeard, it seems you are assuming that non-Catholic students are being lured to the faith. Not true. Sure, Mass and everything else in the school day. Religion class in high school is about all religions.
You are on the right track about no abortions at a Catholic hospital. And no living will or right to pull the plug either. If something is botched in surgery, you could be the next Terry Shivo.

2011-04-02 16:33:53

Jayce [unverified] said:

Tucohdwon! That's a really cool way of putting it!

2011-04-12 19:49:23

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