Lawmakers' assault on schools must be repelled
01 Mar 2021 — Journal Gazette
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Chris Bennett

During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine famously wrote in "The Crisis," "These are the times that try men's souls."

With apologies to Paine, as we currently stand in Indiana public education, these are the times that try public educators' souls.

Teachers' souls are tried by and weary of the continued attack on public education in our state.

Specifically and most recently, teachers are greatly concerned about House Bill 1001 (the proposed state budget) and perhaps its most objectionable component, HB 1005, which, if passed, would greatly expand the state voucher program and create education savings accounts, taking more students and much-needed funds away from public school corporations in Indiana.

If we do not act now, these bills will be signed into law.

If HB 1001 and HB 1005 pass, more families will be given the financial opportunity to leave our public schools and send their children to area parochial schools. This would mean less funding for our public schools and the students and staff who remain there.

The proposed Indiana budget will divert about 38% of new education funding toward vouchers and away from public schools (94% of Hoosier students attend public schools).

One might wonder: Why are we against private schools? The answer is that we are not.

Parochial schools have always provided families an option in where to send their children.

In fact, I attended a private school for part of my K-12 experience, and it was a great experience for me.

Hoosier families always had : and should continue to have : the choice to send their children to parochial schools, but public money should go to public schools.

Public schools, unlike parochial schools, must accept all students within our boundaries. Private schools can accept or reject students for any reason.

Public schools provide special education services to students, but private schools are not required to do so.

While public schools must follow strict state guidelines, parochial schools are granted flexibility to run themselves as they see fit.

In addition to siphoning dollars away from public schools, HB 1001 also cuts funding for career and technical education.

This could lead to reductions or the elimination of some school programs, such as culinary arts, cosmetology, radio, television and nutrition science.

Our students need these strong vocational and career programs now more than ever.

The time to speak up for public education in Indiana is now, and that time is running out. If we do not speak up to support our public schools and their students, then who will?

Please contact your legislators before it's too late, and voice your opposition to HB 1001 and HB 1005. 

This story is provided free courtesy of The Fort Wayne Newspapers.
"Lawmakers' assault on schools must be repelled" Journal Gazette 01 Mar 2021: A8