Governor Mitch Daniels would have us think he is in the pitiable position of not wanting to cut public education and fire teachers. But unfortunately, he just has to.
Nevermind that he is on record as wanting to push for vouchers to defund public education.
Nevermind that by his own estimates he needs to make $300 million in cuts over the next 18 months but instead, The Indianapolis Star reports in a piece entitled Daniels Speeds Up Timetable for K-12 Funding Cuts, he will demand that school corporations do all this cutting in 2010 alone.
At that time, Daniels said schools would have to trim at least $300 million over the next 18 months. The State Board of Education, in giving Daniels a list of recommendations on where cuts could be made without laying off teachers, asked that he instead give schools an exact amount that would be cut in 2010 alone.
In doing so Monday, Daniels said he had no choice.
As reported here previously this is all part of this Governor’s continued well-planned defunding of public education and firing of teachers under the cloak of a financial meltdown. He and his anti-public education cronies including, perhaps most disgracefully Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett, have long looked for the perfect storm under which they can decimate the public education system pushing their privatized hybrid plan.
As predicted he has danced to the constant drumbeat of,
“We reduced everything else first, and much more deeply, but K-12 education is half the entire budget, and it became unavoidable for it to become part of the solution,” he said.
He knew that from the first few months of the downturn. And yet he did nothing to prepare Hoosiers except to offer small dribs and drabs of how, “Gosh I hope we don’t have to cut education.”
He tells them that there are options for avoiding the firing of teachers but none realistically can make up the difference he is proposing and these excuses are only that. They are convenient cover for a long planned assault.
A “citizen’s checklist” compiled at Daniels’ request by the State Board of Education calls for schools to avoid layoffs by taking such actions as freezing salaries and hiring; outsourcing transportation and custodial services; consolidating some services, including with other districts; and cutting compensation for administrators and boards.
But Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, said districts have been cutting budgets already. Layoffs or increased class sizes may be inevitable in many districts, he said.
“A lot of the things the State Board of Education came up with for potential cuts,” he said, “they’ve already made those cuts.”
That includes some districts that already have begun laying off teachers.
Indiana House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Daniels is “using this unfortunate recession, which has hit Indiana very hard, as a means to an end: to attack public education.”
Bauer argued that Daniels is using $600 million of federal stimulus money that should be directed to schools to preserve the state’s $1 billion surplus.
Far be it for us to agree with the Speaker Bauer but, we have to agree with the Speaker.
Daniels’ political maneuvering is to be appreciated as much for its cunning and ruthlessness as for its patent dishonesty. Wait for a crisis. Tell everybody you’re doing fine and that it is inconceivable that education funding will come under the blade.
Tell everyone how much better they are doing in the crisis than everybody else is. Remind them that you really hope you don’t have to cut education.
Tell them you are gonna look for things to cut but that you know that cutting education is not an option.
Cut some state employees. Cut some colleges. Wait a beat. Then…
The Governor may not have lit the match on this Reichstag, but he will take advantage of the opportunity.