Opinion: Determining local education policy

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Commentary by Donald Rainwater 

During the past few years in Indiana, our state’s government has taken several steps toward increasing its role in controlling the education of our children while significantly diminishing the parental role in education.

Within the past two years, the Indiana General Assembly has passed legislation to convert the Indiana Supt. of Public Instruction from an elected office, which it had been for more than 100 years, to an appointed office.  By doing so, the legislature revoked your right to vote for a duly elected official, implying that the governor is more qualified to determine who makes education policy in Indiana than voters are. Last year, the General Assembly dissolved the duly elected school boards in Gary and Muncie, giving control to government appointees.  Again, lawmakers disenfranchised voters in those cities. 

Yes, both of those school districts were having financial issues. However, I believe these issues were allowed to grow in severity because parents have been conditioned to defer to government to hold schools accountable. As a society, we have accepted the idea that government dictates education funding and policy and tells us how to educate and parent our children. 

Duly elected school boards and school district administrations should be determining local education policy, in conjunction with actively engaged parent-teacher organizations, not federal or state government. If all politics is local, then all education policy should be local, too. The legislation that converted the Indiana Supt. of Public Instruction to a political appointee should be repealed. The school boards in Gary and Muncie should be reinstated.

As Hoosiers, we should all be concerned about a state government which seems to be intent on growing more powerful and controlling our daily lives, especially as it relates to the education of our children. It isn’t government’s job to hold us accountable. It is our responsibility, as citizens and voters, to hold government accountable.

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