Judging from the number of copies that have been e-mailed to me, I suspect there's not a public school teacher in Indiana who hasn't yet read this letter from a Greentown teacher to State Superintendent Tony Bennett.
But this message on accountability seems to have struck a chord:
Dear Superintendent Tony Bennett,
I am a special education teacher at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana. I am taking time out of my busy schedule to write to you today in response to your e-mail asking for input from educators across the state. It is my understanding my pay and my teaching license may very well depend on how much gain my students make on standardized tests and you, along with Governor Daniels, wholeheartedly support this reform. I think it is only fair I have the opportunity to commend you and Governor Daniels for your gains as well.
Since we all agree that circumstances and factors beyond our control have little to no impact on our overall effectiveness, I think you too will be proud of the gains you have made. In fact, in many categories, you have helped Indiana lead the nation.
--Indiana's unemployment rate has increased from 5.3% in 2004 to 10.1% in 2009.
--The amount of children in Indiana under the age of 18 living in poverty has grown from 15.7% in 2004 to 17.9% in 2008.
--Since 2004, 16,330 students have been added to the free/reduced lunch program.
--In 2004, Indiana schools only had 31,956 limited English speaking students, now we have 45,885.
--From 2004 to 2006, Indiana gained 54,267 more individuals receiving food stamp assistance.
--Since 2004, the percent of 12th graders NOT taking the SAT has grown by 4%.
--Indiana has expanded their student enrollment in public school by 46,263 students since 2004.
--In just one short year, 2007 to 2008, Indiana dramatically increased bankruptcy filings by 20.8%.
The gains you and Governor Daniels have made in the state of Indiana are nothing short of remarkable. You have set the standard on how one can be effective regardless of the circumstance. Initially I was skeptical of the impact of tying student performance on tests to teacher pay and retention but now I realize that not only am I an effective teacher, I am also a prime candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Governor.
Special Education Teacher
Eastern High School