We wanted to share a recent news release we sent out about the Indiana State Teachers Association’s (ISTA) baffling endorsement of Republican State Senator Brent Waltz. ISTA’s decision undermines their credibility and goes against their traditional policy stance on key issues like full-day kindergarten, public funding, school safety and more. It simply doesn’t make sense to us why ISTA would align itself with Waltz. given his history and voting record.
Read on and tell us what you think about ISTA’s decision.
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Contact: Justin Ohlemiller, 317-926-1727
Dems for Education Reform: ISTA has turned their backs on teachers, public education with spiteful endorsement of Waltz
INDIANAPOLIS – Democrats for Education Reform – Indiana (DFER-IN) today blasted the Indiana State Teachers Association’s endorsement of radical Republican State Senator Brent Waltz, saying the move calls into question the credibility of the organization that claims to stand up for teachers across the state.
DFER-IN executive director Larry Grau pointed to Waltz’s record in the state legislature, where he made votes that range from cutting public education funding to striking down provisions that protect teacher safety in schools.
“The fact that ISTA would support Brent Waltz, who has a record of opposing nearly every principle they claim to uphold, strikes at the heart of the organization’s credibility,” said Grau. “Waltz, vote after vote, has attacked public education in our state and pushed extreme positions that would harm teachers and their ability to succeed in the classroom.”
Grau noted where Waltz’s record stands in contrast to that of traditional ISTA policy stances, including his:
- Votes against full-day kindergarten;
- Opposition to a bill that made possession of a knife on school property a misdemeanor crime;
- Support for cutting public school funding, especially to the state’s most needy inner city schools;
- Votes to increase public tax dollars going to support private schools; and
- Opposition to scholarships for children of wounded military veterans.
“Looking at the Waltz portfolio, you have to come away with one of two conclusions: either ISTA has radically changed its policy positions or it acted out of short-sighted spite,” Grau said.
Grau believes the latter, saying the move was motivated by their disagreements with Waltz’s opponent Mary Ann Sullivan, who has gotten crossways with ISTA for supporting policies like increasing teacher accountability. But Grau pointed out that Sullivan has sided with the teacher’s union on all of the aforementioned issues, as well as opposing private school vouchers and supporting increases in public education funding throughout her legislative tenure.
“This move by ISTA is spiteful, plain and simple” Grau said, comparing the endorsement to an angry high schooler enacting revenge on their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend by showing up in public with another date.
“Like a scorned teen, ISTA has shown up at the dance on the arm of someone who can help them get revenge. It just so happens that their date also wants to dismantle public education as we know it – something I doubt their membership is in favor of.”
Grau said, “Our state and nation are at a crossroads—especially when it comes to education. These are serious issues, with the future of our children hanging in the balance.”
And, while he would have welcomed ISTA being supportive of education reform policies, Grau stated he believed this latest move smacks of something disingenuous.
“Rather than joining in the discussions occurring on how to improve our schools, ISTA has chosen to endorse someone who has shown he is more prone to gut public education funding and attack inner-city schools than to improve the system” Grau said. “I don’t believe you could find many teachers who would condone such radical efforts, which could greatly widen the achievement gap and hurt public education across Indiana. It begs the question: what teachers are being represented by ISTA with this endorsement of Waltz?
“This is not an intellectually honest move by ISTA, and I think their membership will take notice,” Grau said.