Letter: Separate system for private schools nonsense

To the editor:

I encourage Sen. Brent Steele, Rep. Jim Lucas and the entire General Assembly to re-evaluate Senate Bill 470.

I encourage our legislature to evaluate Senate Bill 470. This particular bill would allow private schools receiving vouchers to ignore ISTEP and to take instead “another nationally recognized and norm referenced assessment” of their own choice. This bill instructs the state board to develop an A-F system just for the voucher schools taking alternate assessments.

This proposal is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to improving our overall education for our Hoosier students. I don’t understand why this bill cannot apply to all public schools in the state of Indiana. I am all for ridding our schools of the excessive testing and the costly, failed attempts of administering ISTEP. What I do not understand is why there is a disparity between the test requirements for public schools and our private/parochial schools which accept vouchers.

An additional question for our legislators is, “Why are our legislators focused on voucher schools?”

After some investigation, one would say SB470 would give voucher schools a direct competitive advantage in the marketplace of school choice because they could attract parents who dislike excessive testing. I know for a fact our public schools would also like to reduce the excessive testing that our state has mandated, but this bill clearly is designed for offering this sought-after advantage for only voucher schools.

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, said this bill frees up private schools that accept publicly funded tuition vouchers for poor children from having to adjust curriculum or programming because of demands from ISTEP.

Is he completely out-of-touch with who our public school educators work with each and every day? Again, why would this bill not apply to our public schools, as well? One would easily question what the ulterior motive is behind this bill and behind the closed doors of our legislature.

Not only am I a public school trustee, but I am a teacher in a school which receives vouchers. In no way do I find SB470 fair for education across the board. I would be embarrassed and ashamed if our legislature gave my voucher school preferential consideration over our public schools who are also giving their best to provide quality education for our Hoosier children.

Nancy Franke