Tag Archives: Fady Qaddoura

Education And The GOP

Yesterday, I posted about the continued effort by self-described  Hoosier”conservatives” to expand the state’s already massive school voucher program–a program that has failed to deliver the educational benefits that justified it in the first place, while deepening the divides between Americans of different races and religions.

A few days ago, I had coffee with one of Indiana’s most conscientious and effective state senators–Fady Qaddoura (who also happens to be a former, excellent student of mine)– who has introduced a bill to fully fund pre-kindergarden in the state. We discussed that proposal and several other education measures that have been or are likely to be introduced during the legislative session that just began.

In addition to the coffee with Senator Qaddoura, I’ve scheduled meetings with several other people who are knowledgable about both education policy and the Indiana General Assembly.  (My retirement allows me to dabble in matters that interest or infuriate me, and–with some prodding from my youngest son–I’ve decided to follow education bills in this session.)

In the course of our discussion, Senator Qaddoura pointed to a very interesting–and very revealing–aspect of voucher legislation that had not previously occurred to me.

The GOP’s voucher program classifies families that earn up to $145,000 per year as “poor” enough to qualify; so the state pays for their kids to attend private schools. When it comes to qualification for state-funded childcare and/or pre-kindergarden, however, families bringing home a mere $27,500 are “too rich” for their children to qualify.

This makes perfect sense–if the actual goal of the voucher program is to encourage an exodus from the state’s public schools, a goal that furthers other obvious goals of Indiana’s GOP: destroying the teacher’s union, and finding a “work-around” of the First Amendment’s prohibition against funneling tax dollars to religious organizations.

The difference in those definitions certainly sends a message about which Hoosiers our Republican legislators are there to serve.

The session has just started, but thus far, a proposall being referred to as the house’s “High School Redesign” bill has been introduced and given a low number (H.B. 1002), suggesting that it is is a GOP priority.  As another friend described it,

Basically, it is a new voucher-like program for high schoolers who would get some of their education through an employer/a company.  Student support dollars would follow the child to pay for this experience.

I haven’t yet read the bill, but if my friend’s description is correct, it looks like yet another effort to divert dollars from public school classrooms–at a time when Indiana ranks 41st among the states in teacher pay and the state’s public schools  have a massive teacher shortage.

Then, of course, there’s the culture war. Education lobbyists fully expect that an anti-CRT bill will be filed, and probably a “Don’t Say Gay” Florida rip-off.

One “culture war” effort that previously failed has already been refiled. It is back again in both the House and Senate (HB 1130 and SB 12). The bill’s synopsis reads:

Synopsis:Material harmful to minors. Removes schools and certainpublic libraries from the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors. Adds colleges and universities to the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors.

I assume that the identification of “harmful” material includes any reference to the existence of LGBTQ Hoosiers, and that the inclusion of “performance” is aimed at those “grooming” Drag Queen Story Hours. (Can’t have someone in a costume reading Green Eggs and Ham…)

Also on the culture war front, there are a few bills that would turn Indiana’s currently non-partisan school board elections into partisan contests. (Wouldn’t want a Democrat sneaking onto one of those school boards…)

There is some good news. In addition to Senator Qaddoura’s bills (one of which includes tightening oversight of charter schools) there is evidently a possibility that Indiana will finally join the great majority of states that pay for textbooks.

I realize that many if not most of the people who follow this blog don’t live in Indiana–and may be uninterested in details about our regressive legislature.  That said, these efforts are hardly confined to Indiana. ALEC provides the templates for many of these bills to numerous states, and observers fully expect our General Assembly to “borrow” from states like Florida, where Governor “what Constitution?” DeSantis and his obedient minions in that state’s legislature continue to wage war on gays, “woke” corporations and academic freedom.

Unlike Vegas, what happens in The Backward States does not stay in The Backward States.Unfortunately.