The Journal Gazette
 
 
Wednesday, December 02, 2015 6:50 pm

Letters

GOP can’t be trustedon voucher claims

I have to hand it to Sen. David Long for doing a good job at misdirection in his May 5 piece. I could hit upon many points, but I will focus my comments around one.

If this session has taught us anything, it is not to trust the Indiana GOP regarding anything financial. At the beginning of the session, they were telling us funding changes were about “money follows the student,” despite the fact that the amount of money not tied to students was a drop in the bucket compared to the complexity funds they took away from money already tied to poorer students. From what I can tell, while the criteria to receive complexity funds will be stricter for public schools, a person with an income over that amount can get a voucher dependent on the complexity of the number of students who meet the criteria in their home public school district in a completely unrelated fashion (a 50 percent one, but one nonetheless).

The Indiana GOP can’t be trusted on voucher funding, either. On April 10, when asked why the Indiana GOP keeps dodging Democrats’ calls to separate vouchers in the budget, Rep. Matt Lehman stated that schools in his districts received a small surplus of voucher savings. This wasn’t true. Last year, this became a $16 million deficit according to the Indiana House’s own formula for calculating what the IDOE calls the “Choice Special Savings Distribution.”

This brings me to Long’s other comment: that this creates competition. I won’t deny that this isn’t the case at all, but these can’t truly be described as in the same market. According to table 4 of an Indiana Department of Education voucher report, from 2012-14, non-voucher private school students went from 71,415 to 55,385, while those on vouchers increased from 9,139 to 29,148. That either means that vouchers stopped a mass exodus from private schools due to cost or that vouchers are mostly paying for those who would have gone to private schools anyway. I am not saying there aren’t exceptions; I know there are those who would not have gone to private schools if not for the voucher, but that appears to have become the minority.

I think it is valid to ask whether to send money to religious schools. After all, don’t Pell Grants and other federal aid go to private higher education institutions? (Compulsory K-12 education is certainly a whole different kind of beast.) What is critical, however, is an intellectually honest conversation rather than the smoke and mirrors that seem to constantly be fed to us.

Indiana Republicans can either restrict the program requirements or raise a designated tax. Since it appears unbeknownst to us that Indiana Republicans (and many Democrats, too) signed Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge, I am guessing it would have to be the former.

JORGE FERNANDEZ

Fort Wayne

‘Good riddance, Pence’makes for catchy slogan

The phrase “good riddance” is “said to express relief at being free of a troublesome or unwanted person or thing.” I think that when the gubernatorial race rolls around in 2016, our mantra should be “good riddance, Pence.” It’s kind of catchy, and if somehow we actually begin to forget the damage Mike Pence has done to our wonderful state, we can just remember and repeat: “Good riddance, Pence. Good riddance, Pence.” We will not forget!

BARB MATHEWS

Fort Wayne

Pig wrestling sendswrong message at fair

The 4-H values of head (giving, working), heart (relating, caring), hands (giving, working) and health (being, living) are not reflected in the pig-wrestling event to be held this summer at the Whitley County 4-H Fair.

The 4-H vision is “a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.” Pig wrestling does not reflect positive change.

There is a groundswell of media attention decrying pig wrestling around the country. Our fair can avoid being swept up in the media blitz and growing publicity that surrounds the welfare of all participants – be they two-footed or four-footed. The comments center on thoughts that pig scrambles teach the wrong lessons – that it is OK to manhandle animals, to chase them, to scare them and to hurt them – and it is all in good fun. Any veterinarian will tell us that this causes fear, stress and undue pain to these docile creatures – and it is clearly abuse.

What alternative events could replace pig wrestling? Some suggestions are human mud wrestling, mud football, bicycle races, art contests, paintball tag, water-gun tag, archery contests, cooking contests: all things that encourage using talents, not violence.

Our community needs to discuss this topic and take a proactive stance, leading the way to eliminate this event from the fair. This is an opportunity to set an example of compassion. We are the species with imagination, rationality and moral choice – and that is why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect all living things.

DON SEXTON

Columbia City


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