Pigs Get Fed, Hogs Get Slaughtered

That old saying usually refers to excesses of greed, but it has relevance to other examples of  over-reach.

Take the embarrassing effort by majority Republicans and Governor Pence to deny Glenda Ritz the office to which she was elected (by more votes than Pence received, not so incidentally). The GOP is stripping her of everything but the title.

I have no idea whether Ritz might have done a good job as Superintendent of Public Instruction in the absence of the sustained assault she’s endured. (Given several less-than-strategic responses to that assault, I have my doubts.) Under the circumstances, however, her performance really is irrelevant–the Governor moved against her before she’d had time to perform.

Brian Howey has a recent column delving into the background of the hostilities involved, and the role played by the politics around Common Core. The column included this observation, which I think is dead on:

The other political subtext has been the two-year feud between Ritz and the State Board of Education, made up of mostly Pence appointees. Republican legislation is targeting Ritz’s chairing of the board. The legislation has energized Ritz’s base, as well as the sprawling Indiana education community that helped forge her upset of Bennett.

 The visuals here are Republican supermajorities and the governor seeking to take away duties of an elected official, and a female at that.

Bad optics.

 If Pence had clamped down on the legislation aimed at Ritz, the ISTEP story would be hers, not his. He now finds himself in a political minefield, not impossible to escape, but …“He has now taken ownership of the issue,” said one Republican county chairman speaking on background. “The jungle drums are beating.”

The resentment from teachers (including those who typically vote Republican) is palpable; the turnout at last Monday’s statehouse rally–despite bitter cold and snow–should have sent a message to lawmakers about the pitfalls of energizing an opposing base.

Granted, a clueless GOP super-majority is approaching a number of issues in an equally ham-handed fashion. The assault on the state’s “common wage” is unlikely to affect more than a handful of projects, but the symbolism of attacking it is calculated to enrage and motivate union members and sympathizers. The all-out assault on the environment–via a number of ALEC-drafted measures meant to insulate corporate farms from lawsuits for polluting state waterways and to hobble regulation–has similarly galvanized the environmentally-conscious.

But it is the over-reach against Ritz that has garnered the most headlines–and pissed off the most people–and it is that childish assault that is mostly likely to come back to bite Pence and his legislative consiglieri’s. 


  1. I find the uproar around Common Core confusing. Can anyone out there help?

    As a student I was not happy about, but ultimately accepted, measures of my progress against standards of progress up the ladder of knowledge. Adults outvoted my desire for easy and instead insisted on managed.

    So when teachers now seem to be insisting on easy, and I’m thinking managed, my brain gets dizzy.

    Can anyone help?

  2. Teachers insisting on “easy”? You are confused. Teachers have no say in what’s taught in schools. If you think think the standards have been lowered or dumbed down, take your complaints to the governor and Indiana General Assembly. They’re the ones who are failed florists, or talk show hosts, or some such, with no education experience; they only care about how fast they can destroy public education so their buddies can get their hands on all that wonderful taxpayer money.

  3. Did you ever have sense that the governor has hired a “stupidity consultant”, who is helping everyone make the worst possible decision? Now there is a strategy!

    Something about Common Core. Teachers teach what they teach in the best way they can, despite the finely worded goals and objectives in the state objectives. I suspect that they look a little harder at the goals and objectives when it comes time to do the assessments, but there is so much overlap in teaching algebra and English. If you can solve a quadratic equation, your Algebra skills are O.K.

    In any case, you may be interested in some recent research (by Bruce Aardsma) which questioned whether the Common Core group really had connected their goals with the demands of universities. Despite the Common Core group’s claim that their “research” had connected universities with the goals, Aardsma’s data showed that was not the case. The introduction to the goals and objectives was pretty much a made up scam claiming nonexistant studies. In fact, university people were often hostile to the Common Core goals which failed to connect high school kids with colleges. On the other hand, smart kids are smart kids, and they probably figure it out without any collection of goals and objectives, just as good teachers figure out what’s important.

    All of this shows that politicians should get out of education, because they don’t know or care about the area or its complexity. They go for simplistic “solutions”. Yet they want to blame the schools for “failure” when “failing” schools are an index of failing communities, and there is just so much you can do in those situations. The heroic but stupendously disastrous school takeovers (e.g., Roosevelt in Gary) have shown just how ridiculous the whole concept is. Takeover alienate the populations they are supposed to serve, and take a “burn the city” attitude, when there needs to be a very different approach. Who cares whether the goals and objectives are Common Core or from John Smithers’ Tea Party fevered imaginations?

  4. I would say the GOP is anything but Clueless. They know exactly what they are doing. They have their templates, destroy unions, corporate welfare (like the new Sucker Stadium), Privatize Education, exempt the Factory Farms from Environmental Regulations, among others.

    Freedom to Farm is just a code word for Freedom to Pollute. The visual is the attempt to show Ma and Pa Kettle, or the couple in American Gothic as victims of over reaching Environmental Regulations. You will not find the Pence Family or the other Republican Leadership in the General Assembly locating their Vacation Home down wind of a Factory Farm.

  5. Off the days subject …

    Took the Facebook Subconscious Nationality Test today

    I’m Irish

  6. C
    Common Core, when used as a means of promoting critical thinking is helpful. But the emphasis on standardized testing is problematic. Were we to use a sane amount of testing for prescriptive purposes, it might be ok. But at the high school in which I teach we test for several months in the spring. The testing is disruptive and instead of being used sensibly, it simply labels poor kids and those who teach them as “failing.” What kind of society does such a thing? Finland has the best K-12 education in the world. Look at how they do it: remediation in a big way in the lower grades and one standardized test at the end of high school. Their teachers are typically culled from the
    top quarter of the university classes, have great autonomy and no one dictates to them
    what they have to teach.

  7. I am going to stick my 2 cents worth in; that is probably all it is worth to the current administration on all levels. Education from Pre-K to 12th grade should be set up on the Montessori system. Teaching students at the level of their ability – which is different on different subjects and at different ages – would produce far more qualified graduates to move on to higher education. This would result in more qualified college graduates, better prepared for the workfield in all areas and certainly better leaders. Of course, rethinking the current student loan system would also need to be restructured…which may be the stopping point. Just sayin’

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