On Election night I stood in a line at least 50 people deep with at least 50-60 people behind me. We all just got done working. Some dressed in their business best and some dirty and covered in the muck. But we all waited there for over an hour. We talked and giggled. We politicked and shared stories of why. I was tired of standing my feet. I am quite sure the guy by me was hungry. And the lady there was proud to announce that they had over a 70% turn out. This all is so very rare. Normally, every election I go in and maybe I see one or two. The little old election ladies would oooo and ahhh over my chicks. I would vote, they would get a sticker and we would go home. But this time it was different. Maybe I even changed a few minds around. I wore my badge that I wear for school. It says quite large on it “Teacher”. Those around me asked about it and then eventually led up to asking about who I was voting for as a teacher.
I made it no secret that I voted mostly democratic. I don’t usually do that. Although, I am never usually a straight ticket person anyway but normally I am fall to the right. But not this time. Not because I support the lack of job or the growing deficit. But because I support education. The education of my children and the education that pays our bills. Again repeating myself.
The “talk” around the water cooler the last month was Glenda Ritz could never win in our state. It is too red. It just wouldn’t happen. And one person would always say…”But if all the teachers just voted.” And I came home after a long hour or so of waiting in line and say to my guy, “I stayed there in that line not for the president. But for our superintendent and to for the very first time cast my vote for my elected school board. The one I fought for. The one I went around hugely pregnant in the snow and gathered signatures for. It was super exciting being a part of that awesome political process. I knew my vote would count for something and it did.
Because an hour later we were waiting the election coverage and I see and wonder, “Is it really possible that Glenda Ritz could win?” In a state that typically is red and typically votes straight party lines?” An hour or so later it happened. Glenda upset Tony Bennett. The mean part of me pictured him crying at home like a little school boy and hoped he and the republican party would take that as a note of too much. The national coverage said, “Indiana has had enough….it was too much and too right.” And wow, more people voted for her than they did for our new governor. I felt renewed and heard as a teacher.
But then yesterday this article shows up and the headline I expected but the response in the article I did not.
“The two [Daniels and Pence] began to outline strategies to keep Ritz from reversing policies she campaigned against, including the state’s private school vouchers, tightened controls on teachers’ collective bargaining rights and a merit pay system that is tied to students’ test scores.
Neither would rule out the possibility of abolishing the state superintendent of public instruction’s position as an elected official and instead having the governor select the head of the Indiana Department of Education.”
What the what? Huh? Say what? You don’t like what the voters did so you move that spot to appointed? And the way to far to the right policies of these two men and Bennett will stick regardless of Ritz. Damn someone is pushing our state blue. For me this seems so much more about political gain than actually caring about the students being educated. All three of these people if they stick to these policies are shooting for actual improvements in schools.
They are instead trying to shove the most progressive and ideological shit down our throats and call it education reform. And I think it has more to do with money in their pockets and having the ability to say, “Oh look what I did. We made a change.” But who says those changes need to happen? I am not against change. But this change? All it does it make all of us play a game. A game where the kids and the education are a pawn and the tests, they will never stand in for a true and accurate representation of what is going on in a classroom.
Now I realize it could seem as if I am anti-testing. I am not. I am actually anti making our kids all test at the same level, at the same age, at the same time. It is freaking impossible. Our world and society is very much like an eco-system. We need to have all kinds at all levels. Not all students will go to college and not all students will come out of every grade having learned exactly the same things. What they want…is impossible. Which means it falls back on administrators and teachers to play the game. I am afraid we are going to lose far too many because they aren’t willing to play it. Both teachers and students.
So yea…these things better NOT happen. If they do I have lobbied for political change and I will do it again. I have a loud and persistent voice.
Moral of the story….way to vote Indiana. Now let’s keep an eye on that governor.