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ISTA-Retired leader asks legislators and Governor, Where's the mandate?

We wanted to share with you a letter Dennis Keithley, President of ISTA-Retired Lake County Chapter, sent to his local members. We believe Dennis speaks for most teachers who have reached their limit of attacks on the profession of teaching over the past several years.

Where is the mandate to increase the funds siphoned from public schools to private and charter schools? Where is the mandate to keep your proverbial thumb on public school teachers? Where does our governor get the mandate to undermine the Indiana Department of Public Instruction?

It seems to me there was a different mandate, a 1.3 million (100,000 more than Governor Pence) vote to oust former superintendent Tony Bennett and to install in office Glenda Ritz as state school superintendent.

Legislators, I hope you are reading recent editorial columns throughout the state’s newspapers, and media comments about what actions the governor is taking to undermine Superintendent Ritz’s authority to lead the state board of education. Look at the headlines, pundit quotes, Fort Wayne school board president, and retired public school superintendent Lux’s bylines: “Governor’s olive branch to state education chief is poisoned”, "Pence’s power grab is threat to children”, “Gov. Pence is paying a lot to undermine Dem Ritz”, “Republicans continue to target state teachers”, “Making the Grade”, “Can schools panel, Ritz mend rift?", "Reign of political error or of political terror?”, “Opinion: Ignoring the will of the voters”.

As a retired teacher of 34 years, and now an independent business contractor, I am disgusted by the lack of respect given to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by the board itself (Bennett loyalists), my governor who created a mini-education board at great expense to undermine Ritz, and the continued legislative push to siphon more and more of my tax dollars away from public schools to the benefit of private and charter schools. Indeed, my governor several weeks ago was keynote speaker at an organization that lobbies for privatization of public schools as Indiana was singled out as a state with the largest number of vouchers funded by public money.

Where is this mandate coming from? Not me; not you; not your neighbor—from whom?

Please continue to read the information as it develops and contact your legislators letting them know of your support for public schools. Stop the attacks on Superintendent Glenda Ritz and let’s move forward to improve the public school education of Indiana’s students.

 - Dennis Keithley, ISTA Retired, Lake County Chapter