Problem runs deeper than just Bennett
The recent articles regarding the tenure and actions of state schools superintendent Dr. Tony Bennett clearly provide the basis from which one can understand the animus and distrust of educators across Indiana and beyond. But, my guess is that Tony Bennett didn’t dream up the changes he advanced for Indiana schools. Several brain trusts across the country write legislative proposals for legislators, programs for governors and action plans for state education leaders. And, special interests fund both the organizations and the political campaigns of those who advocate their thinking.
Spend time in the Indiana Secretary of State’s Indiana Election Division reviewing the campaign finance reports of Dr. Bennett, Gov. Daniels and numerous legislative leaders and you will soon learn why Dr. Bennett was so passionate about moving charter schools forward. Contributions of such large amounts to anyone’s campaign have to bring pressure and expectations of access to the elected official and action from that official when desired.
The financial demands to win an election are huge. Dr. Bennett spent $1,866,743.43 in his campaign during 2012. And he lost. Contributions of $65,000 from Ms. DeHahn, $55,150 from Hoosiers for Economic Growth (which also donated large amounts to legislators positioned to impact educational legislation; and was itself the recipient of large amounts of money from an organization in Washington, D.C.), and $49,965 from the American Federation for Children Action Fund were necessary for the $1.8 million 2012 campaign. Large contributions can twist and conflict their recipients. And, they would twist and conflict most of us.
So, with Dr. Bennett gone, is the special treatment for charter schools over? Hardly. Not known to most Hoosiers is the fact that the 2013 Indiana Legislature, with the governor’s signature, enacted into law the HB 1001 budget bill including a provision added in the Senate that forgave all Common School Fund debts owed by charter schools in Indiana.
Based upon a printout dated Jan. 2, 2013, that provision forgave charter schools $81,828,253.30. Some reports have placed the value at $93 million. With the passage of this legislation, the forgiven debt and the assets purchased by the borrowed funds became the assets of the individuals and/or corporations that sponsor the charter schools. An $80 million gift to charter school sponsors.
Public school districts with low assessed valuation borrow from the Common Schools Fund, which assists them by providing low interest loans for capital expenditures such as facilities and equipment. A report of Jan. 2, 2013, shows $85,508,760.18 owed by Indiana public school districts. Their debt was not forgiven. The full amount remains due and payable over an agreed term, with payment coming directly from local taxpayers. No special treatment or gifts for taxpayer-supported traditional public schools.
In addition, due to recent legislation, if a taxpayer-built and
-funded school facility becomes excess property for a school district, a charter school can lay claim at no cost. They just get the property. Notwithstanding that the district might have been able to sell the property and use those funds to meet other needs in the district and thus avoid the need to collect more taxes from its public.
My concern is that, while Dr. Bennett is gone, the real problem remains. Those millions of campaign dollars remain available to elect candidates who will further the charter school cause with special rules and considerations. I hope that Dr. Bennett understands that some contributions came at a high cost to him and to us.
Other elected officials should remind themselves of that as well.
— Roger Thornton
Race, hate and double standards
A double standard is one of several root causes of prejudice and bigotry.
The black youth charged with shooting an Australian baseball player in the back while he was running “just for the fun of it” is not going to be charged with a hate crime. This is taking place even though the black youth has tweeted several racist rants against whites.
There is no doubt that if a white person were to shoot a black person “just for the fun of it” and had a history of making racist comments against blacks, then a hate crime charge would be first and foremost in the indictment.
Justice is supposed to blind — but in this case, she should open her eyes.
— Douglas Elia
Problem runs deeper than just Bennett
FLASHPOINT: Energy bill a no-brainer target for Pence’s veto pen
Indiana has, for many years, wrestled with the question of what policy, if any, to pursue to advance new, alternative visions of how we deal with waste, move around and grow our food. Fortunately, we’ve seen some tangible signs of progress in the Indiana General Assembly with respect to recycling, mass transit and local food systems.
READERS' FORUM: March 16, 2014
• Time for change in assessor office
• Are Indiana’s chemical storage tanks safe?
• Voters of Indiana Thinking carefully about health care
• Put an end to costly primaries
• Founders understood representation rights
• What about bridge?
• Young people don’t know rules
• So many words, so little space
READERS' FORUM: March 14, 2014
• ISU officers should stay on campus
• Good reasons why guns are needed
• Salute to Jake
READERS' FORUM: March 13, 2014
• Celebrating the Girl Scouts
• Challenging the politicians
- READERS' FORUM: March 12, 2014
READERS' FORUM: March 11, 2014
• Meat-free path to the fountain of youth
• Faulty point?
READERS' FORUM: March 10, 2014
• Our government’s heart and soul
• A plea for more give and take
Readers’ Forum: March 9, 2014
Mardi Gras great event for Swope
EPA regs will cause energy bills to soar
Please pray for Ukraine innocents
Sinful thinking on road to hell
Liberty — or licentiousness
People will not always agree
Botched chance at leadership
- Readers’ Forum: March 7, 2014
Readers’ Forum: March 6, 2014
Utilities do need tighter regulation
Great work by TV sports staff
- Readers’ Forum: March 5, 2014
Readers’ Forum: March 4, 2014
Lunatic ravings of the far right
Let IRS take the bullying pledge
Readers’ Forum: March 3, 2014
Social workers honor profession
Readers’ Forum: March 2, 2014
Candle still burns at St. Ann’s Clinic
Thanks to all at Sarah Scott
How should we define marriage?
An argument of science and law
Chance to expand your knowledge
Excellent service from paper carrier
Central time zone makes more sense
Summer adult baseball league for all ages
Recognizing that all people matter
More selfish opposition to Common Core
- Readers’ Forum: Feb. 28, 2014
READERS' FORUM: Feb. 27, 2014
• Unfair criticism of electric utility
- Readers' Forum: Feb. 26, 2014
Readers’ Forum: Feb. 25, 2014
Group to rival The Beatles?
HJR-3 opponents afraid of the truth
Readers’ Forum: Feb. 24, 2014
Declaration of specific gender should never occur
Say no to alcohol at the State Fair
Protect yourself against bad food
Warm appreciation for support staff
Merit in approach
READERS' FORUM: Feb. 23, 2014
• A specimen of bad policy
• And up it goes
• It is past time to talk about rape, sex assault
• Religion is best spread peacefully
• Fugitive thoughts on a winter day
• America taking steps backward
• Being respectful, not anonymous
• Kind help on a cold morning
• Let us throw another stone on the pile
FLASHPOINT: Local control over the business personal property tax good option
I have a tremendous respect for Indiana’s local leaders.
FLASHPOINT: Did legislators place bad bet on Common Core?
A comedian once observed that the reason they call it “horse sense” is because horses don’t bet on people.
- Readers' Forum: Feb. 21, 2014
READERS' FORUM: Feb. 20, 2014
• Take another look at Terre Haute
• The state that adapts, adopts
- READERS' FORUM: Feb. 19, 2014
Readers’ Forum: Feb. 18, 2014
Founders were indeed ‘devout’
Firm definition is what we need
All handouts equal
Readers’ Forum: Feb. 17, 2014
Utility billing process unfair
Voters must demand court information
FLASHPOINT: Manufactured statistics, exaggerated claims make meth battle more difficult
Indiana has many societal problems. One of the most serious is the use of methamphetamine. Meth destroys families, ruins lives and costs taxpayers millions of dollars in law enforcement and meth cleanup efforts.
READERS FORUM: Feb. 16, 2014
• Wrong direction on income issues
• Vet, staff at Brown gave caring service
• Worried about governor’s words
• Drying up stream of public support
• We have passed the tipping point
• Making sure the poor get poorer
• It’s all relative
• Support needed for Catholic school
• Great response from center
- READERS' FORUM: Feb. 14, 2014
- More Letters Headlines
- FLASHPOINT: Energy bill a no-brainer target for Pence’s veto pen