Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced his 2015 legislative plans for education in a speech last week (you can read it here). The meat of the plans, by which I mean the ones that affect school-aged Indiana children directly, should arouse skepticism.
In his speech, the Governor spoke of the importance of pre-kindergarten programs, but announced no plans to try to obtain more funding for it. One might remember that earlier this year, the Governor rejected federal funding that would have gone toward expanding pre-K for low-income children in the State.
Pence also strongly supports more funding for charter schools. This, despite the fact that charter schools statewide received much lower performances grades this year than public schools. Among the schools with “D” grades were a few in Gary and one in East Chicago.
This isn’t to say charter schools as a whole are a bad idea, and that public schools are always sterling. But they don't seem to be working in our state, and spending more on something that isn’t working is like continuing to use teaching methods that aren’t reaching the students.
Continuing to fund underperforming schools and denying funds for poor kids' pre-school doesn't sound like serving the state. What they sound like is political maneuvering from our Governor at the expense of it.
In education alone, Pence’s resistance to Common Core and his stances that rankle teachers make him a polarizing figure, but nothing stinks of politics more than his working relationship with Glenda Ritz. Ever since the State Superintendent was elected in 2012, the Governor has tried to undermine her at every turn. He’s finally disbanded his alternative education committee which he created solely to challenge Ritz's authority, but he’s still trying to remove her from the picture.
There are elected officials who govern, and there are those who are just ideologues. Our Governor, unfortunately, is the latter instead of doing his job as the former.