News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 21, 2011

FLASHPOINT: Fighting the status quo, with a purpose

TERRE HAUTE — As Republicans offered ideas and solutions to move our state forward and provide high-quality education this past legislative session, the singular focus of some Indiana Democrats was to maintain an ineffective status quo. Even as the dust has settled and Indiana’s elected leaders work to implement the meaningful and effective change voters called for, it’s apparent that one champion of the do-nothing, education status-quo caucus has continued his kicking and screaming all the way back home to Terre Haute.

State Sen. Tim Skinner is at it again; on the attack — trying to rewrite history — by distorting positive education reforms in Indiana and lobbing more incendiary comments and false assertions across the state in an article in this paper. His words are an especially hard pill to swallow this time around, considering the decisive action Indiana’s education leaders took to deliver a victory for all Hoosier children less than three months ago.

Sen. Skinner claimed to be “outraged” by the way State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett “spoke about educators and the field of education and the work that public school teachers do.” Unfortunately, his recollection of Bennett’s words does not match reality. Tony Bennett continuously praised educators and sought to reward effective teachers. In fact, a main component of the education improvement effort provides educators more opportunity and freedom to drive student achievement and be paid more.

What’s surprising is not Skinner’s criticism — or the criticism coming from most Indiana Democrats — but the continued disingenuous attacks, even in the face of overwhelming support for comprehensive reform. The people of Indiana demanded change for their children, and Republican leaders delivered. With courage and vision, Mitch Daniels, Tony Bennett and our Republican House and Senate caucuses presented Hoosiers with a plan of action and followed through. 

Those on the other side of the aisle have found it far easier to defend an establishment system that failed too many children. These are the same politicians who, when they were in the House majority, sat idle while education in Indiana continued to crumble. These are the same folks who made every effort to stifle positive efforts to reform the status quo and put students first. Now that change has come, Indiana Democrats like Sen. Skinner should retire the false, hyperbolic rhetoric that gets them headlines and get to work supporting the change Hoosier constituents expect.

In the months and years ahead, Tony Bennett’s job is to implement the meaningful reforms — some of the very changes President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan have called for — passed into law and give students and teachers more opportunity to succeed. And, unlike Sen. Skinner, Bennett will remain committed to fulfilling his duties for Indiana’s children rather than attempting to erase all the good work that has been achieved.

What’s clear is this: Indiana Democrats will try desperately to rewrite history for their own shortsighted political gain in the next campaign. Our Party of Purpose — the Indiana Republican Party — won’t let them get away with it. We will run not against change, but on ideas that will continue Indiana’s Comeback and make our state a better place not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.

By Eric Holcomb, chairman

Indiana Republican Party

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