An area school superintendent told me recently that Florida educators call No Child Left Behind the "No Teacher Left Standing" act.
I'm beginning to believe that's the goal of the current education administration in Indianapolis. The effort to beat them down with criticism is unprecedented. Stephanie Salter, a columnist for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, says it best in this column.
"Never mind the individual faces, histories and value systems of more than 50,000 members of the state's teachers unions," Salter writes. "Better to vilify them as a whole, hinting that those who do not buy the current administration's version of reform must be lazy, burned out, power-hungry or clinging to old-fashioned, inefficient methods."
She was writing about state Superintendent Tony Bennett's recent address to the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, in which he gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled "Indiana's Education Mess." Bennett compares the "mess" to the BP oil spill, calling for "a structural change in the way we fund education."
Never mind that the remedies he's pushing -- merit pay and charter schools, among others -- have mixed records, at best.
In almost 30 years of writing about schools in Indiana, I can't ever recall a time when the top school official found it necessary to travel around the state trying to convince teachers that he's not out to destroy public education.
Bennett is an amiable guy in person, and it appears that his audiences are surprised and pleased to find that he's willing to face them and make his pitch. But in the end, what he does for schools -- or to them -- will matter most.