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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.
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PBS looks at Indiana school choice

Learning Matters, the New York City production company responsible for the education segments on PBS NewsHour and John Merrow's first-rate documentaries, visited Indiana recently to look at the new choice options set in place by the Republican-controlled legislature. Watch it here.

The excellent segment uses Anderson Community Schools, in a city devastated by auto industry job losses, to illustrate the choices Hoosier parents now have in sending their children to voucher schools, charter schools or other public school districts (if the district will accept them, of course).

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, offers the measured, sensible counterpoint to state Superintendent Tony Bennett's enthusiastic support for choice.

"These schools are like little car companies and they are all announcing 'I've made the greatest new car.' No proof, no evidence, no history. This is not a scientific experiment. It's an attempt, in my view, just to push down public education," DeLaney says.

The visit to Anderson's Liberty Christian School, where the classroom lesson is the story of Jonah and the whale, is eye-opening, as is the principal's response to producer John Tulenko's question about special education services.

"I'm not equipped to meet their needs" is likely the new catch phrase for schools of choice.

The first comment posted in response to the segment is instructive of how people outside of Indiana might view what's happened here: "One does wonder if, because some of the matching money going to the choice schools in Indiana is inevitably, somehow, somewhere mingled with federal funds, whether I have standing to sue those who would have children learn that Darwin was wrong or Hitler was right?"

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 kfrancisco@jg.net.

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