Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Ritz Should Be Hesitant to Alter School Reform

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Ritz Should Be Hesitant to Alter School Reform

Article excerpt

It's ludicrous to equate Tony Bennett's defeat in the school superintendent's race with public rejection of a school reform agenda, as many in the education bureaucracy are trying to do. The public wants better schools, which is why Glenda Ritz, the teacher- Democrat who upset Mr. Bennett, must be extremely cautious before trying to dismantle any reform ingredients put in place by Mr. Bennett and Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The public feels about schools and teachers much like they do about members of Congress.

They don't like' em, unless they happen to be their teachers and their schools.

In that case, they're just fine. No one wants to admit his own offspring might be getting a second-rate education.

Mr. Bennett's defeat can be blamed on two forces. One is the strong wordof-mouth network that teachers operate in this state. That network was solidly behind putting a colleague in the superintendent's seat.

The other was a faction within what should have been Mr. Bennett's conservative base. These are folks opposed to Common Core, the new curriculum and testing initiative coming to Indiana thanks to Mr. Bennett's and Governor Daniels's somewhat surprising support for nationalized standards.

There should be no debate over Indiana's commitment to improving schools and teachers.

Ms. Ritz and the union don't like our new "A" to "F" grading system for schools, but it's been hailed nationally as a model.

The quickest way to force a school to start doing things differently is to give it a "C" or lower. If grades motivate children, you can bet they'll do the same to teachers and administrators.

More worrisome is the fate of the new teacher assessment system, which uses student test scores in determining a teacher's effectiveness and therefore earning potential. Indiana is one of 20 states that require that student test score gains be used in personnel decisions.

The union has objected so loudly to this that some Hoosiers may not realize scores are just one of several variables taken into account.

The 2012 Education Next-PEPG Survey, a highly-respected poll of public opinion, found strong support among the public for using test score information to hold teachers accountable. …

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