IBJOpinion

WRIGHT: Schoolchildren need better advocates

Greg Wright
November 27, 2010
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WrightThe Legislature needs to fix two systemic problems causing Indiana’s public schools to fall behind and cost too much:

First, the overwhelming majority of Indiana’s public schools are controlled by school superintendents and licensed administrators, not elected school boards. Second, superintendents and school district administrators are simply too close to teachers’ union bosses.

The organizations that dominate, train and speak for superintendents, school administrators and school board members march in lock step. They do not function independently.

The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana Association of School Business Officials and the Indiana School Board Association are all three at 1 N. Capitol Ave., Suite 1215. They share the same office suite, receptionist, kitchen, coffeepot and staff. In practice, the leadership and agendas of the superintendents, licensed administrators and school board organizations are indistinguishable.

When registered lobbyists from any of these three organizations speak to the press or the Legislature, they are speaking for all three organizations. Can you ever recall when they had any conflict? These groups clearly do not represent the taxpayers. These groups do not represent the children and place their interests first. They represent the adult members with special interests.

Superintendents and school administrators are all licensed teachers. The pay and benefits contained in their individual contracts generally are based on a teachers’ contract. At the termination of their contracts, they can go back to teaching. When school districts downsize, some administrators go back to teaching and bump classroom teachers to the unemployment lines.

Imagine an auto manufacturer where all levels of management started out as a United Auto Workers union member, where its management is paid based on the union contract, and where its board of directors is trained by former UAW union members. That’s the situation of Indiana’s public school districts.

My experience has been that the political campaigns for most successful school board candidates have been financed by the teachers’ union, and that most of their poll volunteers were members of the teachers’ union. Former teachers’ union boss Albert Shanker put it this way, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

If Indiana is to move ahead, our schoolchildren need independent representation. Since local school boards cannot fix these problems, citizens must look to the Indiana General Assembly for a solution.

The following changes would help pull this important public institution out of the ditch:

• Allow all K-12 children to enroll in any public school, including charter schools, in any school district in their county of residency.

• The money must follow the child.

• Provide children travel vouchers for transportation to any public school within their county of residency.

• Move school board elections from May to November.

• Make all school district employees (including teachers) state government employees and provide them with the same benefits currently provided other state employees.

• Require all school employees and school board members to adhere to the same ethics rules as all other Indiana government employees.

• Require public schools to transfer vacant school classroom buildings to certified charter schools.

Be careful. If we do not adopt the complete treatment regiment described above, we will fail. Piecemeal changes will result in only a temporary setback for these special interests. If allowed, they will simply regroup and resume the largesse for the adults, and our children will continue being the victims of the system.•

__________

Wright is a former elected member of the MSD Washington Township Board of Education. He is a certified fraud examiner specializing in financial fraud.

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  • When you're Wright, you're right
    As a matter of "public education," Indy Don is right, there is no colussion between superintendents & business officials (whatever that means); only collusion.

    "Business officials?" Hybrid inbred?
  • Wright is Right
    To exercise a choice to leave a failed governent school should not be abrogated by denying the kid the means of getting to said school. A District is only a local monopoly with ALL of the defects of monopolies. The interest of the State is in having a well instructed citizenry able to read, write, and calculate. The Legislature has come to realize, we hope, that their previous system does NOT EVEN COME CLOSE to achieving any of those goals. So, the means of delivery needs to be improved-elimination of monopoly is so obvious that Indy Don probably needs to go back to school. Just because we have had decades of mediocrity from government schools with it's attendent costs, actual and social, does not mean that we should preserve a stupidity. There is no excuse that we have not heard ad nasuam from so-called "educators". Show us the goods! We define "the goods" as the 3 R's and pack your bags if you can't deliver them!
  • Gre3g Wright is wrong
    The positions taken by Greg Wright are only partly correct. The last legislature allowed for students and families to select any school in the state and the state payment would follow them. Transportation is another problem, but there should be no reason for transportation to follow the out of district choices. As for his claim that school boards, superintendents and business officials are all in colussion, that is a bunch of malarky. I don't know what Greg is trying to accomplish, but he is all wrong.
  • I Agree
    I agree with the recommendations. The situation where superintendents all but wrong the school boards is a particular problem. Many of these elected school boards are just rubber stamps for whatever the superintendent wants to do.

    Moving the election to the Fall would really help. Right now it's hard for candidates not endorsed by the superintendents to win given the small turnout in a primary.
  • Common Sense
    Greg Wright is right.

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