The Indiana Teachers Association (ISTA) has caricatured our education plan as a declaration of war against public education. Our plan to transform education is not a declaration of war. We support public education, and we want to make sure that it succeeds. Creating educational choice for all Hoosier families can only benefit our Hoosier students.
The debate really centers around two bills: HB 1002 and HB 1003. HB 1002 deals with charter schools. Despite claims to the contrary, charter schools are, in fact, public schools, and as such, they must meet the same standards as regular public schools. For some students, these schools are a better fit than regular public schools. That is the purpose for other highly contentious bill, HB 1003.
HB 1003, the "School Choice" bill, deals with vouchers. This bill provides money for parents who wish to take their students out of one school and put them into another school - public, charter, or private. Parents may seek this money for a number of reasons. It could be that their child is struggling to succeed at their current public school, but they would have a better opportunity for achievement at another school.
As the term "School Choice" suggests, we are trying to give families the most choice possible. We believe that every student in Indiana should be able to attend a school that provides the best fit to their child's specific needs. There is a misconception that supporting charter schools will create some sort of mass exodus from the public school system. The fact is most students and their families are happy with their current school situation. The objective of HB 1002 and more specifically HB 1003 is to assist the parents who are trying to provide a better educational environment for their children.
Let me reiterate that the governor's transformative agenda is not a declaration of war against public education. We are trying to benefit both schools and families. Our plan will not fix every single problem with education, and we are not going to pretend that it will. We are certain, however, that it is a strong step in the right direction towards providing Hoosier children with every opportunity to succeed.
Ralph M. Foley