News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 4, 2012

FLASHPOINT: Republicans can’t run from votes against public schools

Sen. Tim Skinner
38th District, Democrat, Indiana Senate

---- — I recently read the letter and article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and Lafayette Journal and Courier regarding state Rep. Randy Truitt. I have also had many friends from around the state send me copies of this article. Most are happy that Rep. Truitt had the courage to speak out against the Indiana Department of Education and the Bennett-Daniels radical education reform. I would like to voice my opinion on this matter.

Where was Rep. Truitt’s voice when this radical education reform was introduced in the House Committee on Education? He was not outraged then. Where was his voice when this legislation was hotly debated on the floor of the House? He was not outraged then either. If Rep. Truitt had concerns about these bills, the prudent response would have been to vote against it. He clearly, by his own admission, voted in favor of all of it.

If Rep. Truitt claims that he was unaware of the dangerous consequences this legislation would have for our public school children, our public schools, and our public school teachers, then he wasn’t listening. There was a parade of House Democrats who stepped to the microphone to inform the Republicans of the consequences of this legislation. Rep. Truitt voted for it anyway, as did most of his Republican House colleagues.

Rep. Truitt must have also missed the debates on the Senate bills which were discussed at length on the House floor, because he voted in favor of them as well.

I would love to believe in my heart that Rep. Truitt is sincere. One has to ask though why he voted time and again against the wishes of his local educators. Why is he hearing them now and did not hear them before he agreed to support the Bennett agenda? Is his buyer’s remorse due to the anger from his constituents? Can he hear them now?

Even in his letter he defends his belief in the need for this reform. He even states that he thinks this reform will move education in Indiana forward. I believe Rep. Truitt knew exactly what his vote for this legislation would do to public schools. What he may not have known at the time is that the price he might have to pay in November could be greater than the pressure from Republican leaders to support Bennett.

The cynical side of me believes Rep. Truitt might be running for cover because of the looming November election.

Rep. Truitt acknowledges that he voted for all of Bennett’s radical public education reforms. He claims to be having second thoughts now, claiming his local educators are upset. What is wrong with this picture? Had he been listening, he would known that they were just as concerned before he voted for it. Why are educators’ objections just now important to him?

I do not feel sorry for Rep. Truitt. I do not sympathize with his cries of remorse. I hope the voters in November don’t feel sorry for him either. Rep. Truitt needs to be held accountable for his support of the Tony Bennett anti-public school agenda, period.

State Sen. Tim Skinner of Terre Haute represents Senate District 38, including Vigo County and portions of Clay County. He is a member of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee and a retired educator.