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Learning Curve

  • An F for transparency
    “Look at this shiny thing over here!” – Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Oct. 14, 2014.

'Soft bigotry of low expectations'

Gov. Mitch Daniels held a daylong academy for the trustees of Indiana's public colleges and universities today. It's an excellent idea to reinforce their role as watchdogs for all Hoosiers' interests, not simply boosters for their individual institutions.

But I'm troubled by the single quote the governor's office chose to highlight in a news release: "We want to see an Indiana where there is a place for every student, but not every student can go every place."

Daniels clearly is channeling Charles Murray, co-author of "The Bell Curve" here. He frequently cites Murray as a writer who shapes his economic philosophy.

I can't help but think, however, that Daniels' view of "a place for every student" directly contradicts President George W. Bush's very worthy contribution to the public dialogue: "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

To suggest there are places where some Indiana students can't go slams the door on the opportunity and promise for thousands of young Hoosiers. I know of one young man now studying engineering at Purdue. He's a first-generation U.S. citizen and the first in his family to attend college. I can't help but wonder if he would have worked as hard to finish near the top of his class if the governor's view had prevailed in his home and school.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at