Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Government Reform Scare Tactics

The Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform stated that Indiana should consolidate school districts to achieve a minimum student population of 2000. At the time, I wrote that this idea was probably DOA considering people would fight like hell to keep their district as is. An op-ed piece in yesterday's JG by the superintendent of Hamilton Community Schools confirms my suspicion, but it goes a step too far by employing scare tactics and half-truths about what the Commission is actually proposing to consolidate:
A large percentage of the commerce in Hamilton is done during the time that people are either going to or coming from school. If the school goes away, business will go away as well. Metz is a small community that fell victim to the last round of consolidation. After the school was removed, development in the town dried up.

These issues cannot always be measured by dollars and cents. The school provides a focal point for small communities, the source of entertainment and recreation.

Ok, let's just stop right there as citizens need to recognize this half-truth when they see it. The writer would have you believe that the Commission is recommending consolidation of schools but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Commission specifically says (p28) that only school districts, and not schools, should be consolidated:
Indiana has too many school districts and administrators, but Indiana does not have too many schools. We recommend retaining geographically dispersed schools to allow districts to maintain optimal class sizes and serve local populations and needs.

So what we appear to have is a superintendent using scare tactics to try and protect his turf. What he doesn't tell you is that Indiana has more administrators than the national average but fewer instructional staff than the national average (p27). He tries to continue his justification of this by employing his next scare tactic that actually borderlines on parody as he invokes the dirty word of "Socialism":
The government reform commission wants to do away with many units of government and those who are elected to oversee these units. This is being done under the guise that local politicians are out of control and spending money for things that they should not be spending it on. It appears that there are those who may use this to centralize power for their own purposes.

We need to resist this creeping socialism, as it brings about images of Big Brother. A process is already in place to hold elected officials accountable: the election process. If we are truly a government of, by and for the people, we need to be mindful of the effect that the elimination of locally elected officials will have, as we will have to answer to appointed bureaucrats who are not directly accountable to citizen review.

That statement is just ridiculous. First off, how can eliminating government be considered socialist or an expansion of Big Brother? Second, the commission has only recommended non-legislative government positions be changed to appointed positions. Do you want the best auditor for the job or a political crony? Day to day operations run by department heads do not need to be elected. If this author is so big on elections then why not call for himself to be elected as the superintendent? Of course we elect a school board which then hires a superintendent - that is the exact process the Commission has recommended. Lastly, I have news for this author, our state constitution requires every child be given a free education - that is socialism and I think most people tend to think it's a good thing in this case.

There might be substantive reasons not to follow specific recommendations of the Commission but we shouldn't let fear mongers like this dictate the debate...

5 comments:

scott spaulding said...

Good post.

ROACH said...

ditto.
so lets see.
consolidation is good. unless its public schools.
privatization is good. unless its public schools.
segregation is bad . unless its allen county, where we have 2 lilly white 98% white schools, one 90% white school, and one that is largely minority, and growing everyday.
Separate but equal is bad. allen county is not only separate, but unequal. compare the quality of education in NACS, and SWACS, with EACS, and FWCS.
So why is Ian rolland, NAACP, PQUEI, etc. all strangely silent when it comes to talk about consolidating all 4 county school systems , with 4 administrations, 4 busing systems, 4 purchasing systems, and lots of redundancy, and inequality?
we should bring our county into the 21st century, and consolidate all 4 county school systems immediately. end local de facto segregation, and separate, but unqauality today.
the students of today need to be able to interact with all races, genders, socioeconomic demographics to propser in the global economy of tomorrow, which is rapidly approaching.
nahh. never happen. rich white racist allen county a-holes dont care about the poor, especially non-white poor.

bobett said...

Roach,

What is your point? It's in there,
but i'm confused.

Andrew Kaduk said...

I think Jeff deserves a standing ovation.

Rachel said...

Obviously the ones most outspoken against the Kernan-Sheppard recommendations are the ones that might be downsized or eliminated. And since they are the ones with the power and the microphones of the media, they will probably the loudest voices heard.

I can only hope our citizen legislators can think of the rest of us who would like to see our governmental systems streamlined for the benefit of the group, instead of preserving antiquated systems for the few.