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Jennifer McGowan, Guest Writer

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Letter to the Editor

I would like to have an opportunity to respond to the article regarding the legislature’s responses to education funding in yesterday’s newspaper March 12, 2019.  First let me say that I completely agree with the balanced budget amendment in our state’s constitution. Our goal should be to only spend the money that we have at hand.  However, I completely disagree with the insinuation in the article that public school systems are mishandling the money they are allocated. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the misuse of money is at the legislative level.

The state of Indiana claims to be the second largest spender on education in the nation, but public education does NOT receive all of those funds.  In fact, the state house allocated an additional 77 million dollars to charter schools, and an additional 19 million dollars to vouchers in spite of poor results on testing and less than 50 % graduation rates.  In addition, the State house spends over 66 million dollars on testing and only 16 million on safety. It seems as though the choice of funding is skewed. Is testing more important than the safety of our students?  The funding speaks volumes-the answer is ‘yes’ apparently.

In addition, there are bills on the state house floor that are asking for 5 million dollars for a data collection system that already exists at the DOE.  Talk about a waste of funding! In fact, the DOE informed the authors of the bill that a system was already in place, and the 5 million dollars would be waste – the DOE was ignored.  Furthermore, the DOE articulated to the people in charge of testing and explained that the third grade test IREAD and ISTEP were very similar. There could be some small changes to one of the tests that could cut funding for those tests in half.  The DOE was once again ignored. Our elected state superintendent, Jennifer McCormick, is the source of these statistics. The very person that the Republican party wanted in office and the people chose to elect. Indeed, yet another example of wasted funds.  I am sure we pay her a substantial salary, and the State House chooses to ignore her expertise. She will not run again for the Office of State Superintendent for all the reasons listed above.

Residents of towns like New Castle should be angry and frustrated, as we are.  The tax dollars collected from our families and community are divided amongst public schools and charter schools that are not present in our community.  New Castle schools have lost money – money that the taxpayers of this town have paid, and the funds are shifted to charter schools in other communities. McCormick stated that funding for public schools has decreased 6.2 % since 2012, and funding of charter schools has increased 52.3 % since 2012.  These numbers are outrageous! Not only are the public schools being short changed, the students themselves are losing money due to funding being shifted away from public education to charter schools.

I have grown tired of the blame being shifted to public institutions that achieve success, in spite of the obstacles placed in its path.  It is time for the Statehouse to take responsibility for its actions, save money where it can be saved, and invest money in the future of ALL students.  It is time to invest money in public education.

I appreciate your time,

Jennifer McGowan