Gregg wins points from local teachers
By Carole Carlson email@example.com | 648-3154 August 8, 2012 5:20PM
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:41PM
MERRILLVILLE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg shared his education policy views, including his opposition to vouchers, with local members of the Indiana State Teachers Association Wednesday.
Gregg took aim at Gov. Mitch Daniels’ education cuts, and education reform legislation adopted by the General Assembly in recent sessions.
“We’ve literally stripped school boards of the power to make any decisions, teachers can’t teach because of assessments and administrators struggle to keep the doors open. All the good jobs in the world don’t mean anything unless we have an educated workforce,” Gregg said.
Gregg, the former speaker of the state House of Representatives, is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and Libertarian Rupert Boneham in the Nov. 6 general election.
The luncheon drew teachers from the Valparaiso, Porter Township, Merrillville, Crown Point, Lake Central, Portage, Tri-Creek, Hanover Central, River Forest and Kankakee Valley school systems.
ISTA Uni-Serve Director David L. Smith said the union wanted to “start a conversation” between educators in Northwest Indiana and Gregg, who is supported by the ISTA.
“He’s saying all the things we want to hear,” said Smith after Gregg voiced support for fully funded all-day kindergarten programs.
Gregg said the voucher program — state money given to qualified parents for their children to attend private schools — hurts public education. “I’m not a fan. I don’t think it will work for all students,” Gregg said.
Teachers had plenty on their minds.
Smith said teachers are concerned about the impact state education cuts totaling $600 million have had on schools. The state ordered the second round of cuts after school budgets were set, forcing districts to trim costs quickly. Smith said it led to teachers and other workers losing their jobs and programs being scrapped.
Bob Gustas, a middle school teacher in the Lake Central School Corp., is concerned about state teacher licensing changes that he said diminish the profession by reducing their qualifications and the role of college teaching programs.
Retired teacher Terry Brendel, of Valparaiso, criticized the Department of Education for increasing standardized testing, while decreasing money for remediation.
“The money going to fund testing has gone up dramatically, while money for remediation has decreased.”