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Peter Greene and I are on the same page about Indiana. What is going on there has nothing to do with education, nothing to do with children, and everything to do with politics, power, and money.
Peter’s post, as usual, is brilliant.
In the modern era of education reform, each state has tried to create its own special brand of educational dysfunction. If the point of Common Core related reforms was to bring standardization to the country’s many and varied state systems, it has failed miserably by failing in fifty different ways.
What Indiana provides is an example of what happens when the political process completely overwhelms educational concerns. If there is anyone in the Indiana state capitol more worried about education students than in political maneuvering and political posturing, it’s not immediately evident who that person might be.
The current marquee conflagration of the moment is the announcement of a new Big Standardized Test that will take twelve hours to complete. This announcement has triggered a veritable stampede from responsibility, as every elected official in Indianapolis tries to put some air space between themselves and this testing disaster. And it brings up some of the underlying issues of the moment in Indiana.
Currently, all roads lead to Glenda Ritz.
Back before the fall of 2012, Indiana had become a reformster playground. They’d made early strides solving the puzzle of how to turn an entire urban school district over to privatizers, and they loved them some Common Core, too. Tony Bennett, buddy of Jeb Bush and big-time Chief for Change, was running the state’s education department just the way reformsters thought it should be done. And then came the 2012 election.
Bennett was the public face of Indiana education reform. He dumped a ton of money into the race. And he lost. Not just lost, but looooooooosssssssssst!!! As is frequently noted, Glenda Ritz was elected Superintendent for Public Instruction with more votes than Governor Mike Pence. I like this account of the fallout by Joy Resmovits mostly because it includes a quote from Mike Petrilli that I think captures well the reaction of reformsters when Bennett lost.
“Shit shit shit shit shit,” he said. “You can quote me on that.”
And it gets better. Read it.