We Don’t Care What the Evidence Says….

The Indiana General Assembly is finally going home, concluding a session which most sane Hoosiers couldn’t wait to see come to an end. There was plenty of bad policy to go around (RFRA, anyone?) but–as has become typical during the Pence Administration– city schools took the greatest hit. The final budget slashed funding for urban public schools in districts serving the poorest populations, while raising amounts for rural, charter and voucher schools.

Once again, the legislature took money from the state’s most strapped public schools to increase funding for Pence’s ill-considered voucher program–currently one of the most extensive in the nation. Indiana has close to 30,000 students receiving public funds to attend private schools, some 80% of which are religious.

To add insult to injury, lawmakers also took oversight of voucher schools away from Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and moved it to the Governor’s office. According to the Indianapolis Star

A proposal was slipped in the state’s new $31.5 billion budget without public debate, moving calculation of school voucher costs from Ritz’s Department of Education to Pence’s board and shifts control over which schools qualify to receive vouchers.

If anyone thinks Pence’s office is competent to do either job, I have a bridge to sell you…

Whatever one thinks of charter schools, at least they remain part of the public system. Vouchers are another thing altogether. There are plenty of reasons to object to the growth of the state’s voucher program–vouchers bleed money from the public schools, have been shown to re-segregate students, and give parents choices without providing them with the information they need in order to inform those choices. (In Louisiana, a significant percentage teach creationism and other “biblical truths.”) Most also fail to deliver.

Proponents defend vouchers as a means of escape from “failing” public schools; the obvious implication/promise is that students will receive a better education in the private schools to which they take those vouchers.

The evidence does not support that promise.

According to a report from the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago, school choice in Indiana is “designed to funnel taxpayer money to private schools, with little evidence that demonstrates improved academic achievement for students who are most at risk.” The study compared Indiana’s program with those in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D.C. – some of the oldest voucher programs in the country – where they say they found similar results.

The study replicates several others that have been conducted since “school choice” programs became the easy answer to struggling schools.

Virtually all scholars who have examined the performance of voucher schools have concluded that academic gains range from none to minimal. The single improvement that has been documented is parental satisfaction; when parents feel they have had a choice, they are more empowered and exhibit more positive attitudes.

Hoosier taxpayers are paying a lot for that parental satisfaction.

The vast majority of Hoosier children, who remain in public schools being purposely drained of necessary resources in order to support private (mostly religious) education, are paying a lot more.

58 thoughts on “We Don’t Care What the Evidence Says….

  1. Having followed the legislature for many years, I do believe this is the worst session I can remember.

    Pence has done nothing positive for the people of Indiana. His agenda is clear: Make Indiana a place only for the rich and oppressive, and to hell with the rest of us.

  2. My ex-husband had two favorite responses to our “discussions”. “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” And, “When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you.” Sounds like Pence and this current mislabeled Legislative Session.

  3. on the bright side, 30,000 students were able to escape failing public schools and seek a better education.

  4. Unfortunately, the dismantling of public education has moved beyond a partisan issue. Since the Ds discovered just how large the “Ed Reform” cash flow was, public schools and children have lost their political counter-balance (not that it would have helped this year anyway). Until an angry plurality of everyday people rise up and demand that politicians stop selling schoolchildren to the highest bidder, expansion of vouchers is but the tip of the iceberg.

  5. They increased the budget for an on-line charter school by $27 MILLION – whose buddy/campaign contributor owns that one?

  6. Mankind didn’t invent evolution, we discovered it. Like all reality, it isn’t affected by our awareness of it. It long preceded us. It’s impact on life is to move towards more success by trying new adaptations to the environment randomly and incorporating success into future models. If that random process fails to try something that’s critical in the changing environment evolution is neutral about the survival of any species and will extinguish failures. It’s goal is always the greater good.

    The more developed animal life invites an additional opportunity for evolution into life and that’s cultural. So how we collectively behave is tested, evaluated and resolved according to the same standards as physical evolution. What enhances the greater good gets continued, what fails in adaptation to the always changing environment ends that particular path.

    Based on that reality, what is the greater good? IMO it’s what best prepares coming generations for future environments.

    Is there anything more important then for human life on earth than education? I don’t know what it might be.

    Education is challenging to us because of the range of abilities that have to be accommodated by the process. We need to prepare the most and least capable for the future and all in between. Not equipping all for productive futures risks future performance of our species for, unlike physical evolution, the least prepared will probably survive and drag all down. We can’t share the unimpassioned justice of Mother Nature in eliminating the ill equipped.

    Based on all that, our future lies in using educators to produce improved politicians not vice versa. The more politicians muck around in education the more marginally educated politicians we’ll have dragging future generations down.

    Education is a publcly owned commitment to the future of life. That doesn’t need improvement. There is no evidence that we are capable of improving that.

  7. Kilroy, let’s for the sake of discussion assume that you’re right despite the total lack of evidence. If the 30,000 are better educated at the expense of a higher number being less educated what has society gained?

  8. Kilroy, if you were trying to be funny, you failed miserably. Your entire premise is wrong. The public schools are not failing; they’re being starved to death, and the vast majority of those 30,000 students have never stepped foot in a public school. Taxes are being stolen from public schools and sent to religious institutions to indoctrinate children or even pay for a new church steeple or two.

  9. For the sake of discussion, we’ll also assume the higher number is less educated, despite the total lack of evidence. But we are really starting to stack up a lot of assumptions without evidence…

    Assuming all this, we have 30,000 from needy families that received a better education than they otherwise would have from our subpar public schools. That’s potentially 30,000 under privileged children that will have a much better chance at attending college and escaping their poverty class.

  10. Kilroy/Gopper: IMO giving tax revenue money to private and religious schools without voter approval is unlawful. It’s the republicans seizing control of everything in their reach at the expense of all.

  11. IPS had gold plated fixtures in the bathrooms at main admin. Public schools are not being starved, the teachers are paid more, the schools receive more per student than most private schools other than your Park Tudors, and more money is spent on bureaucratic waste.

  12. Nevertheless, there was no public approval to divert tax money to religious and private schools. No accountability.

  13. I am missing your point about public approval. If our legislature approves something, that indicates public approval since the public elected the legislature. We don’t live in a direct democracy.

  14. Kilroy, are you planning to answer my question?

    In case you are, let me ask an additional one. You claim that public schools are sub par. My question is, compared to what alternative? There is no other education system that handles the variety and diversity demanded of the public school system.

  15. Kilroy, perhaps Daleb’s point is a plea to think for ourselves and thereby rectify our mistake and elect in the future government representatives who are qualified to lead to better rather than worst places as we are suffering from now.

  16. @Pete: I thought I did answer your question? Some portion of 30,000 that furthered their education that otherwise wouldn’t have and have a better chance at changing their economic situation?

    to your second question: the alternative of private schools. Why should better schools be reserved just for those that can afford to pay it? Vouchers allow underprivileged families, that are still very active with parenting, to get their kids out of bad public schools.

  17. Kilroy, your assumptions are worse than anyone’s. Where is your proof that IPS has gold-plated fixtures in an administrative building? Where is your proof that “30,000 poor kids” are being taken in by religious schools?

  18. Rosemary: “had”, not “has”. I don’t have any information on current bathroom fixtures. Just ask anyone that worked there in the last decade.

    The 30,000 number is from this blog post above: “Indiana has close to 30,000 students receiving public funds to attend private schools, 80% of which are religious.” Vouchers are based on income qualifications, so if you receive a voucher, you qualify as what I would call poor.

    So I’m not sure what part of my comments you consider assumptions, other than that the private schools are better than the public schools, which I’ll admit is based on my experience, knowledge of various school rating systems, and anecdotes.

  19. Kilroy, all of your answers and questions are based on an unsubstantiated assumption. That private schools are superior at education than public schools. Most of us can’t see that who owns the buildings and pays the labor makes any real difference in the quality of the product, educated children from across the spectrum of class. That product is most dependant on the education of the teachers. Plus the private school scenario adds the extra cost to most people of increased upwards wealth distribution from profit. Plus, depending on which institution owns the means, the quality is sacrificed to their agenda rather than focused on real human knowledge.

    We believe that the scotoma of people who attach the importance that you do to the ownership of production means got there from another unsubstantiated assumption that being that business serves the public more effectively than government which ignores in our opinion that freedom comes from democracy which our government offers but business can’t.

    We value freedom highest. Not just for us but for all including the not yet born. We think that freedom is maximized by democracy and democracy by education and information. So our heroes are democracy and education. Not income redistribution and entertainment.

  20. Can you name anything that the government does better than a private entity can? (Rhetorical question as answer assumed to be “no”). They why do you all of a sudden believe that our government can educate children better than a private entity can? Our best colleges are private, our best hospitals are private (VA? no thanks), our best mail system is private.

    Everything the government does is income redistribution. That is essentially what a government does.

    There are great public schools, there are bad private schools, but students from poorer families shouldn’t be trapped in our failing public schools when excellent private schools exist in the same neighborhoods and can give those children a better chance. Vouchers serve that need.

  21. Families of 4 are eligible for vouchers if income is up to $89,725. Poor families would love to be that ‘poor’.

    The voucher legislation is presented as a choice for poor families with students
    in failing schools. However, vouchers have never been limited to poor families or failing students or students in failing schools. Attempts to match that rhetoric to the statute have met with fierce and successful opposition from legislative sponsors and private school communities. Attempts to outlaw enrollment discrimination against handicapped students and English language learners also have been defeated.

  22. Kilroy said – Can you name anything that the government does better than a private entity can?
    How about not declaring Bankruptcy??
    Largest Bankruptcies:
    Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
    Washington Mutual
    Worldcom, Inc.
    General Motors
    CIT Group
    Enron Corp.
    Conseco, Inc.
    MF Global
    Thornburg Mortgage
    Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

    My wife worked for many years for a large company that went bankrupt. They re-organized and dumped the pensions on the Federal Government – Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). No Golden Parachute for her.
    When Pence first signed RFRA he had the Bible Thumpers on stage with him. No surprise that Religious Schools would be a recipient of State Funds. I went to a Catholic Grade School for 4 years back in the late 1950’s. We were taught if you were not a Catholic you went to Hell. Is Hellfire and Damnation taught in these Religious Schools today????

  23. ” Why should better schools be reserved just for those that can afford to pay it?”

    Kilroy; I will answer your question regarding education this way – I drive a 19 year old car because I cannot afford a newer car, I live in an old house that needs repairs because I cannot afford a better house, I wear clothes from DAV Thrift Store because I cannot afford to shop at Nordstrom’s and those who have the money send their children to better schools rather than publc schools. Those who can afford bigger and better buy bigger and better and send their children to better schools with better paid teachers. It WAS that way regarding all private schools, mostly religious based, till Daniels and Pence began giving private education to even those who can afford to pay for it themselves by taking our tax dollars from public education and adding it to private, religious schools. There is now a serious problem providing safe school bus service to transport students to their assigned schools miles from their homes. It is not only public education itself that suffers, providing books and supplies for students IF they have a way to get to school. Of course ignoring the separation of church and state is ignored to accomplish this because the greatest percentage of private schools are religious based.

  24. Several Weeks ago, we had a “Stephen” who put out the challenge of naming Wars that were over religion. Like Louie, I stepped up to the plate and actually found 10 wars. Louie, has found 12 private corporations that went bankrupt.

    Recently, we have had the various stages of the “Gopper”.

    Now we have a Kilroy …

    They all have one thing in common. Playing Devils Advocate to the Nth power and firing up
    the other contributors.

    Since I have always used an alias, I wonder if all 3 aliases belong to the same person. It’s
    pointless arguing/debating anyone who will always take the opposite point of view. Much
    easier to ignore whom ever they be, completely.

    Red George …

  25. “Our best colleges are private, our best hospitals are private (VA? no thanks), our best mail system is private.”

    All of those institution are selective. Elitist. They only serve the folks that they want to and base that decision on what strategy optimizes the return on investment of the owners not what leads to the greater good. To whatever degree that they are better, which requires us to ignore the total absence of evidence that they are, is more likely to be because the serve the easiest to serve. The perfect business model. No competition because that market is so easy to satisfy.

    We the people serve we the people regardless of who they are.

    As Romney so accurately pointed out the America that Republicans would like to bring about would transfer the wealth of the poorest 47% of us to the wealthiest 53% and marginalize the middle class turning America from a rich democracy to a poor oligarchy for most.

    As I said earlier liberalism is about freedom which requires democracy which requires education. All of those things for everybody.

    The best definition yet to distinguish liberals from Kilroys is that we both want the same things but liberals for everybody.

  26. Please, I’ve been commenting as Kilroy on various sites including this one for almost 10 years now and only as Kilroy.

    I asked what the government does better than a private entity. only a negative was provided, which wasn’t even accurate. See Detroit as an example as a city the declared bankruptcy in a much more comical fashion than any of the businesses named.

    JoAnn’s argument seems to be that rich people deserve better things because they are rich. I disagree. The poor should have access to the better schools and vouchers is one way to accomplish that.

  27. @Pete: except I’m the one arguing that everybody that wants to should have access to the best and you are arguing for a class divide.

  28. I know that most of you don’t have the spare time that I do but for those who’d like a high return investment of less than an hour here’s a speech from the guy who was popularly elected as President back in 2000. The one who without doubt would have left the world and our country in the shape that it was turned over to him or better rather than the shambles of 2008. Al Gore.

    While I think that Hilary is more electable today I wish that he was running too as I believe that between now and 2016 the world will no longer be able to ignore the reality of anthropogenic global warming. He saw it realistically decades before his competition.


  29. Kilroy, we already have in place the system that gives equal access to whatever education is appropriate for every individual. The system that produced the few exceptional people that we’ve seen to date. You offfer no evidence of a superior system. There are folks who regularly fall for promises that are not backed up with past performance but I don’t think that you’ll find many here.

  30. I disagree with your statement that we already have a place the system that gives equal access to whatever education is appropriate for every individual. I’m not even sure what you are referring to as that definitely does not describe our public education system.

    Our system is not the best system and many countries have better educational systems than the U.S. What is the best is our university system, with the vast majority of the world’s best colleges being American private universities.

  31. I think that every institution on earth can continuously improve. No matter who owns the means. I don’t have any evidence that ours is not the best education system in the world. I do see evidence that ours is no longer, and probably never was, the most effective culture in the world, at least in some ways.

    The other education system that I’m pretty familiar with first hand is Switzerland’s. Much more test based than ours and state paid for as much as you can test into the top ranks for. But, on the other hand Bush’s education performance testing seems to be rubbing our culture the wrong way.

    The biggest education deficit that I see is among my contemporaries, the old folks. Many are so easy to lead away from truth it is scary. They started undereducated and fell further behind as humanity’s realization of reality grew like crazy and we on the average didn’t.

    I recently taught a couple of AP Climate Science high school classes and was impressed with the students ability to think and interact with me. And their concern about their future and disappointment with what problems we are leaving to them to solve.

    The Internet has raised education reality to a new level. All of the wisdom of mankind available but infused with all of the lies we tell as well. Sending undereducated people into that fray is unaffordable.

    I believe that we are now so specialized that we have no choice but to leave education up to the educators, science to the scientists, law to the lawyers, medicine to the drs, military to the Generals, and religion to the shamen., etc.

    Us not wanting to is a correctable failure in yesterday’s education system.

  32. Kilroy–just because you repeat it a thousand times without thinking doesn’t make it true. The US public school system is just as good as any other countries, except maybe a few of the scandanavian countries. The divide comes about because of income (http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/got-dough-how-billionaires-rule-our-schools). This article gives your 30,000 the bronx cheer it so richly deserves. The schools in poor areas are underfunded, the schools in richer areas are more adequately funded. This has been true since there has been public education in the US> The only state that got it right was New Jersey. Poor areas get MORE money for education. It’s also covered in Kozol’s ‘savage inequality.’ So, brainiac, what people like you cheer for is the complete dismantling of public education–to your own and your kids detriment. But apparently extreme ignorance is your preferred milieu. Don’t get old. Besides, why should I complain? My daughter received such a good public high school education that she was able to test out of 24 hours of her 30 hours of core classes on the college level. She will get a good shot at a job your boo-boo cult ejimcated kids can only drool over. Why should I try to set you straight? That just means more job opportunities for her–looks like 30,000 and counting.

  33. @girl cousin: drop the vitriol and I’ll bother responding. Until then, I say good day to you, sir.

  34. Kilroy; you better read my comments again. Nowhere did I say the rich DESERVE better because they are rich, they can buy more because they are rich. That does not mean they DESERVE all that they have; like the $70,000 tax deduction Romney received for his wife’s dancing horse. The point of the vouchers at this time is that they are being given to students who never attended public schools and the income level of $62,000 is certainly not poverty level – nor is it rich but it is above the level of those who deserve vouchers. And the issue of public education tax dollars going into private, 80% religious based schools, is still ignoring separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution. Yes, Kilroy, I recognize your name and also remember you commenting on this blog before…all I do remember is your name, not your comments or your views on anything.

  35. Kilroy, if private mail systems are superior, why do they use USPS when your address is 99999 w. 399th street?

    You have no idea of what the Mail happens to be and what it does. Your critics are correct: assumptions.

  36. Enough feeding Kilroy. What can we do to vote out Pence and co before they decide to try their hand in medecine, etc?

  37. Kilroy–Drop the idiocy and I’ll respond–in the meantime go back under your bridge.

  38. Kilroy is not Gopper, daleb. For your own health of mind, admit that there are millions who hold opinions very contrary to yours.

    The L-ft loves public education because it uses education as indoctrination, giving the educating part third billing, or worse.

    The L-ft also loves education, as so many l-fties derive a sinecure from the public education edifice.

    As I said earlier, you don’t need public schools to provide a public education, so the nonsense of “stealing tax dollars from public schools” is risible. That’s code for “stealing tax dollars from my public pension account.”

    Public schools were actually instituted to make obedient citizens, not to make smart kids. American schools are built on the invidious and despised Prussian model, and the faster we hasten the departure of those schools, the better.



  39. Kilroy is not Gopper, daleb. For your own mental health, admit that there are millions who hold opinions very contrary to yours.

    The Left loves public education because it uses education as indoctrination, giving the educating part third billing, or worse.

    The Left also loves education, as so many lefties derive a sinecure from the public education edifice.

  40. As I said earlier, you don’t need public schools to provide a public education, so the nonsense of “stealing tax dollars from public schools” is risible. That’s code for “stealing tax dollars from my public pension account.”

  41. Public schools were actually instituted to make obedient citizens, not to make smart kids. American schools are built on the invidious and despised Prussian model, and the faster we hasten the departure of those schools, the better.

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