Conservative Groups Oppose Mike Pence’s Education Reform Agenda

Photo credit: Steve Baker (CC-By-ND 2.0)
Photo credit: Steve Baker (CC-By-ND 2.0)

Yesterday over 30 conservative reform groups publicly released an agenda for education reform, which they are submitting to Indiana legislators. The coalition’s “Platform for Educational Empowerment” urges legislators to make the following issues a priority during the 2015 session: reducing regulations on voucher-accepting schools;  freedom in testing and choice of non-Common Core-aligned/rebranded standards; forgoing a renewal of Indiana’s federal No Child Left Behind waiver; greater protection of student data; empowering parents, as opposed to government-funded institutions, when it comes to the care of children too young for kindergarten; equalizing basic per-pupil student funding for school; and taking a stand against the College Board’s new and controversial AP U.S. History framework.

Heather Crossin, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, told Truth in American Education that they were prompted to release this platform because of repeated media reports about calls that Indiana Governor Mike Pence has made to expand Indiana’s voucher programs which the media has believed would curry him favor with grassroots conservatives.

“As organizations representing the base voting bloc of Indiana’s Republican supermajority, we thought it important to set the record straight.  We cannot support a voucher expansion, unless the legislature and Governor are willing to cut the Common Core strings that bind it.  Indiana’s voucher program was recently rated as being the second worst in the country when it comes to protecting private school autonomy.  Expanding this program, without addressing this fact, is unacceptable and further erodes the very concept of school choice,” Crossin stated.

Dave Read of The Central Coalition, which represents 20 central Indiana Tea Parties, said, “This is a comprehensive document that sets a path for obtaining academic excellence in our schools, by empowering and liberating those closest to the students – local districts, schools, teachers, and parents.  It is the antithesis of the failed policies of the last several decades, all of which have been geared toward centralizing government control over Indiana schools.  It makes the case for unshackling schools, rather than tightening the government vice-grip.”

Heather Crossin added in a released statement, “As conservatives and activists who have been at the forefront of the education debates in IN the past two years, the groups represented here reject recent media accounts citing the expansion of vouchers as a major priority for grassroots conservatives. School choice needs freedom to thrive; therefore our first priority is to free voucher schools from the stifling regulations which bind them.”

Erin Tuttle, also a co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, stated, “Education policy should be driven by parents informed by academia and business, not lobbyists and government agencies informed by their own interests.”

“The rebrand of Common Core standards in Indiana shows the system is broken. We will continue to advocate for the liberation of schools from the Common Core-aligned system that still controls them from Washington, DC,” said Micah Clark, President of American Family Association of Indiana.

“We won’t produce better, brighter students by creating more government programs and expanding the role of government,” said Dan Thiele, a conservative activist from northern Indiana.

You can read the platform here or below: