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Inherent bias invalidates A-F grading of schools

Now that the stench from the recent Tony Bennett A-F grade-fixing scandal has dissipated, we can turn our attention to the bigger issue at hand, whether an A-F grading system for K-12 education makes any sense.

The system they came up with wasn’t necessarily defective at all. In their view, its problem was that it didn’t accommodate and support a set of preconceived notions about what constitutes a successful school.

A grading system that was truly intended to be fair, transparent and intellectually honest would ensure that the playing field for comparison is level among all participating schools, and to achieve that would take into consideration many factors, too many to enumerate here, that affect school performance. And that would likely require a very complex evaluation process, one that would take years to analyze and refine by a centralized government education bureaucracy in Indianapolis.

And there’s the real rub. It is the apogee of hypocrisy for conservative politicians to be advocates for a centralized government program to influence parents with a grading system that incorporates a hidden agenda and has little to do with school accountability.

Evaluating which school your child should attend belongs at the most local unit of government, the family home. Parents should exert great effort to avail themselves of every source of information to determine the right fit for their child.

But Indiana’s A-F grading system is not one of them, because of its inherent bias in favor of charter and private schools. It should be scrapped for good.


Pence’s new department should enrage tea party

So Gov. Mike Pence dumped on Glenda Ritz, the popularly elected state superintendent of public instruction. No surprise there. The governor demonstrates an arrogant disregard for Indiana citizens that precedes him for too many years.

But the irony lies in this new agency he is creating. The idea may have merit, but it flies in the face of Republican mantra – big government is the bogeyman and it is the Democrats who are destroying America with “big government.”

But here is a future star of the Republican Party adding another agency to state government. Where are the howls from the tea partyers?


Privatization invites abuse – as always

This nonsense that privatization is the panacea for all our ills is just that, nonsense. As a longtime Republican, I realize I have just committed blasphemy in the eyes of the idealogues, but so be it.

In the ’80s, I was one of about 106 Indiana state-approved Medicaid transportation providers. We were all summoned to a meeting by Jim Verdier, point man for Gov. Evan Bayh at the Family and Social Services Administration.

Verdier informed us that they were tweaking the billing process to expedite our being paid more quickly. They were allowing us to provide the trip without acquiring prior approval. We old-timers saw a huge problem. Simply, new transportation companies would be formed and all types of non-authorized trips would be billed. And some existing companies would take advantage as well.

Sure enough, what we feared came true and severely affected the transportation budget. Verdier went back to the old procedure.

There are around 10 percent (higher if you include Wall Street and the financial world) of businesses that make it difficult for the 90 percent that do things right. And without government to oversee the rascals, or unwilling, the taxpayer is the one who picks up the tab.

If you think Tony Bennett is the exception, you’re wrong; but it does show us that Republicans are just as bad as we portray the Democrats. When government is complicit or sloppy in overseeing a program like this, kids, public schools and the taxpayers are the big losers.