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Indiana: GOP Legislator Proposes Total Privatization of Muncie School District

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A Republican Legislator has proposed turning over the Muncie School District to Ball State University and allowing the University to replace the elected board with an appointed one of its choosing. Muncie currently has a large deficit and an emergency manager. The state has starved the schools of adequate funding.

“During a hearing on Thursday, Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, questioned the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, and the university president about a provision that would exclude a BSU-run MCS from having to follow numerous education laws.

“The bill would allow BSU to govern financially distressed MCS effective July 1 by appointing a new seven-member school board to replace the current five-member elected school board.

“There is a list four pages long, Tallian said, of “a huge part” of the Title 20 education code that the school district would not be required to follow, such as collective bargaining rights for teachers, health insurance, “the entire body of the school transportation law,” accreditation, equal education opportunity, teacher licensing, “the whole body of law about school curriculum” and data reporting.”

Ball State’s record running charter schools is unimpressive, although it’s lab school has high ratings.

“A laboratory school is a school run by a university, like Ball State’s highly rated Burris Laboratory School, which has much less poverty among students and many fewer minority students than the city school district.

“Unlike teachers in Indiana’s traditional public schools, Burris teachers lack collective bargaining rights. Charter schools are not required to participate in collective bargaining with teachers, either.

“A charter school is a public school operating under a contract, or charter, between the school’s organizers and a charter school authorizer, such as BSU, which oversees but doesn’t manage more than two dozen charter schools around the state, nearly half of which are rated D or F.”

So Ball State runs a successful elite school on campus but nearly half its charters are rated D or F.

The people of Muncie are divided about whether this is a good idea.

Ball State thinks it will burnish the university’s reputation. The heads of businesses and law firm like it. Legislators say “it’s a done deal.”

This is how democracy dies. One step at a time.

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