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EAG's phony outrage

The Education Action Group is shocked – shocked! – that the former Goshen schools superintendent could have retired last June with a $94,000 sick-leave payout. Never mind that Bruce Stahly left with a payout of just $11,250. The EAG seems to be certain that something's amiss here.

"Several provisions of (his) contract suggested Stahly would receive generous payouts and benefits upon retirement, which we were prepared to question based on the financial condition of public schools at the moment," writes EAG's Ashleigh Costello in an email sent to the political action group's extensive distribution list, including hundreds of Indiana teachers.

Here's a challenge: If the Education Action Group truly is interested in tax-dollar abuses in public education, why not write about this astonishing case in Orlando, where the principal of a failed public charter school walked away with $519,453?

North Star High School in Orange County was about to be shut down for poor performance when Kelly Young took her buyout. The amount was based on her annual salary of $305,000. NorthStar served about 180 mostly at-risk students, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Young's annual salary as a charter school principal was higher than that of Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of the 181,000-student Orange County Public Schools.

In the public education outrage category, this would seem to rate pretty high, unless your shadowy political action organization exists entirely to defame teacher unions and traditional public school districts. The Education Action Group, based in Muskegon, Mich., won't disclose who is funding its noxious attacks on public education. Since it won't, we can only assume the paychecks are covered by the Amway fortunes of Betsy DeVos and other anti-union interests.

Until EAG reports on outrageous abuses in for-profit charter schools, its work should be considered nothing more than union-busting.

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