Let me start by apologizing for my lack of a blog post yesterday. I got back to Greencastle very late for the State of the State address and I fell into bed because I needed to be back in Indy very early this morning in order to start attending committee hearings. There is one on education and one on transportation, both that look interesting.
But, back to the State of the State address for a minute. It was… not what I expected. There was a lot of content about the economy, which I was expecting. I even expected the emphasis on education sine it seems that the marker for a “successful” budget this year will be if education spending can stay the same for FY2009 as it was in FY2008. The tangent about more discipline in schools absolutely threw me. I understand that it is important, at the same time is that really the best reason that Mitch Daniels can come up with for the low test scores in Indiana? Is there really no better explanation for it? For instance, could it be at all that students are tested so many times in Indiana that the teachers curriculums are almost completely dictated by making sure their students know how to test, not necessarily making sure that the student actually understand the content. What about the huge racial and socio-economic disparities between inner-city schools versus suburban and rural schools? Kids are bored because instead of learning about Hemmingway and Newton, they are learning the strategy for how to answer multiple choice questions and how to best right and ISTEP essay, and kids are frustrated because they see and hear constantly about what other students have and their “public” schools that these kids can’t even dream of. Why are their schools with astro-turf on their football fields while other students are still trying to use almost archaic computers in the classroom and are only have four or five AP classes offered at all. The boredom and the injustice wears on kids. While these can cause discipline problems, until these causes are addressed instead of kids just being told to “sit down and hush up”, there is going to be very little change in this area.
I was also somewhat surprised that Governor Daniels was so openly critical of states like Ohio, Illinois and California. If he is really making a run for the presidency in 2012 as it has been rumored, he will need to make friends out of these big swing states, But then again, that may rightly not be a big priority right now, which is just as acceptable. I was surprised to hear it in a State of the State though. It said a lot to me about what Mitch Daniels really thinks of Hoosiers that he put these comparisons in the State of the State. Putting down other states in order to make Hoosiers feel better about a financial crisis that Mitch’s own party got us into makes Hoosiers state wide seem very shallow. It is times like these that Americans should be coming together, not drawing even harsher state lines of separation.
Mitch, it is going to be an interesting year and you have a few months to help pass some of the most progressive environmental legislation that the U.S. has ever seen that will save tax payers huge amounts of money potentially and save the state tons of money. This is your opportunity… will you take it?