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Learning Curve

  • No research at IPFW?
    Purdue President Mitch Daniels' remarks during a public radio interview have drawn a quick response from IPFW faculty, who are challenging Daniels' assertion that regional campuses should not be engaged in research activities.
  • Defending the indefensible
    Indiana Inspector General David Thomas and the state ethics commission dispensed with the Tony Bennett mess as quietly as possible, but making something disappear doesn't mean it never happened or that it should have happened in the first place.

The Education Idol goes to court

Marion Superior Court Judge Michael Keele will rule early next week in the lawsuit challenging Indiana's new voucher program.

From news reports this morning, it appears that supporters of the program are ignoring the constitutional questions raised, instead arguing that a preliminary injunction will disrupt school plans as classes begin this month.

The number of vouchers already approved has increased since the state's last report. The state's attorneys now say that 2,853 vouchers are approved. The legislation caps the program at 7,500 this year and 15,000 in 2012. The program is unlimited after that.

The voucher program helped Indiana earn the dubious distinction of Education Idol today. In a schlocky program sponsored by the pro-voucher, pro-charter Fordham Institute, Indiana beat out Illinois, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin as the "reformiest" state. In his acceptance speech, state Superintendent Tony Bennett thanked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for serving as a reform model.

I'm still wondering how a state that doesn't even offer full funding for full-day kindergarten could be considered an education leader under any circumstances. The package of "reforms" the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed with a Republican governor's assistance will have to overcome the built-in disadvantage of a late start in learning if they are to show any results.

But the reality is that improving Indiana schools was never the intent. Pleasing corporate and individual political supporters always has been the goal, so results no longer matter. The trick now will be to frame progress so that it looks like the changes made a difference.

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