The Outstater: Eric the Flaccid

December 13, 2018

AS THE ERA OF THE SUPERMAJORITY stretches to historical length, Gov. Eric Holcomb and House Speaker Brian Bosma are working hard to set the flaccidity bar ever lower. Their recent statements on public education could have been written by a committee of ISTA pensioners on Methaqualone.

Remarks this week at the always unremarkable Bingham-Greenebaum-Doll (BGD) Legislative Conference expressed a willingness — though not a promise — to spend more money on Indiana public education. That, to be sure, would be in the name of the intrepid and long-ignored classroom teacher, but in glossing over the disaster that is our school system it also was in tacit support of the army of educrats and virtue-signalers holding those teachers and their students hostage.

Please know none of this is the fault of the bureaucrats themselves. They are necessary to manage the stupidity that Governor Holcomb and the legislature abide, indeed continue to remake. The State Collective Bargaining Act, a 40-year-old Republican document, allows nothing else.

Even a modicum of leadership could change that. The facts are plain and undisputed that would support systemic reform and discredit the Lilliputian mindset at the Statehouse.

Those reforms, needed to untie innovation, incentive and achievement, can be found in hundreds of studies and policy models, several of which have been detailed in the quarterly journal of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, most recently the fall 2016 issue, “Decentralizing Indiana Public Education: Student-Based Budgeting.” The author, Lisa Snell, joins Dr. Jeff Abbott and other foundation scholars in advising that those school systems getting a handle on spending, not to mention improving classroom strategies and rewarding teachers, are the ones that allow funding to unequivocally follow the student while restoring classroom prerogatives to an excellent core of individual teachers and their principals.

Before that can happen, though, elected officials must drop a tired narrative and permit the public discussion to reset and refresh.

So where are they on that? Well, the GOP leadership thinks that maybe, in the long run, perhaps someday, we should begin thinking about encouraging the managers of public education to start watching their pennies.

“I hesitate to use the word ‘mandate,’” Bosma reportedly whispered to the BGD conventioneers, “but we’ve got to encourage very strongly for schools to focus more on teacher pay than on administrative expenses.”

Do you think?

— Craig Ladwig


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