There he goes again

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gives an inspirational speech, and you almost want to believe him when he says his call for school reform is rooted in “a love for the children whose very lives and futures depend on the quality of the learning they either do or do not acquire while in our schools.”

The changes he is proposing – performance-based evaluation of teachers, restrictions on the power of teachers’ unions, even vouchers for parents who can’t afford private school tuition – are worth an honest debate. But it doesn’t help when the governor keeps repeating myths and half-truths, as he did in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Once again he made this claim: “Teacher quality has been found to be 20 times more important than any other factor, including poverty, in determining which kids succeed.” As School Matters reported last week, the statement simply isn’t true.

And again he said the following: “Only one in three of our children can pass the national math or reading exam.” The truth is that about one in three Hoosier eighth-graders score “proficient” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A proficient score, according to former NAEP advisory board member Diane Ravitch, is “equivalent to an A or a very strong B,” not a minimal passing grade.

We’ll let others fact-check the governor’s claims about taxes and job creation. But when it comes to education, he keeps bending the truth.

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One thought on “There he goes again

  1. Well put. While I support trying some new things to improve student achievement, especially in historically low-achieving schools, I am tired of politicians bending the numbers to create a false “crisis” scenario around our education system. The Indiana education institutions systematically fail certain portions of our population, but serve other portions very well. I desire greatly to see change for the “failing” student populations. I want to work to create a more equitable system. I think, however, that these goals are more attainable if stakeholders stop using education as rallying ground for political divisions, and start approaching reforms with level heads and meaningful input. I know this is asking a lot.

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