With all the misstatements, lies and sophomoric shenanigans that have become standard fare in many political campaigns, it may be increasingly difficult for educators to take politics seriously, much less personally. But in an open letter to her governor, an Indiana teacher spelled out exactly why she takes politics personally, and Texas educators would be wise to hear her out.
With only a few modifications, her letter, linked below, could be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott and many state legislators because the Texas and Indiana political records on supporting public education are similarly lackluster.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence recently angered educators in his state by reportedly telling teachers that they shouldn’t take it personally if their students’ grades dropped on new, more difficult standardized tests, even if their evaluations — and professional futures — were linked to the test scores. (Pence is supporting legislation to unlink teacher evaluations for a year because the tests are new, but the legislation hasn’t passed yet.)
You may say this isn’t relevant to me because my school district doesn’t link test scores to teacher evaluations and compensation. Some Texas districts, however, do tie evaluations to test scores, and depending on who gets elected to the Legislature next year, every district could be required to do so by the 2017-18 school year.
In any event, Donna Roof, a veteran Indiana teacher and public education advocate, felt inspired to point out why she took the governor’s remarks and policies personally – over excessive testing, crowded classrooms, inadequate funding, disrespect for teachers’ expertise and other issues that the governor and other politicians have foisted upon Indiana educators and students.
Sounding more familiar now, I bet. Her list could have been written by Texas teachers – and, with a few changes, should be.
Gov. Abbott claims to be a champion of education but so far, except to promote a limited pre-kindegarten program, hasn’t done a lot to prove it. He still resists calls for adequate and equitable school funding and, during last spring’s legislative session, demonstrated a preference for tax cuts and highways over schools.
Tell our governor you take it personally when he and other state leaders continue to neglect public schools in favor of over-testing, privatization and lip service. The first link is to an online message form for Gov. Abbott’s office. The second link is to Donna Roof’s letter to her governor.