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Alone With J

April 25, 2011

    Despite rumors to the contrary, a piece of legislation approved this week by the Indiana General Assembly and currently awaiting Gov. Mitch Daniels’ signature does not signal a death knell for teachers’ unions across the state.
    Yes, the bill limiting collective bargaining rights for Indiana teachers is a little confusing — in that it seems to take away the very same type of local control about which its Republican sponsors so often wax poetically and patriotically. And, yes, it is almost certainly the first of many shots the GOP intend to fire in the direction of organized labor, which has long thrown its support to Democrats.
    Teachers are understandably upset about the new legislation. But now it’s time for them to act like the responsible adults we believe them to be and get over it. In and of itself, the bill will almost certainly have no negative affect on day-to-day operations at any of the three school districts in Adams County.
  Regrettably, the same cannot be said of other pieces of Daniels’ education agenda that are being ramrodded through the statehouse.
  The expansion of charter schools and a dangerous — and we believe unconstitutional — voucher program which diverts taxpayer money to private schools are much more onerous than was the collective bargaining bill.
   There seems little question, should the voucher bill be approved, that tax dollars will find their way in one form or another to private, faith-based schools, despite an Indiana state constitution which implicitly prohibits taxpayer money from supporting religious instruction. Republicans, including our own State Sen. Travis Holdman, have simply dismissed with a wave of the hand that possibility, claiming that GOP lawyers have assured them the law would pass constitutional muster. If that indeed is the case, the state constitution as a whole would be rendered to being worth less than the paper on which it is printed.
    And, while giddy over their newfound majority status in the statehouse and a seemingly obsessed with bringing K-12 education to its collective knees, Republican lawmakers regrettably have ignored state and local government reforms contained in the now-dusty Kernan-Shepard report of a few years back.
    If teachers’ unions have abused their powers over the years, as was one of the arguments in favor of the stricter collective bargaining law, so too have many township officials. Yet the elimination of the township layer of government, which would seem to fit with the GOP vision of smaller and more efficient government and, we believe, would have no negative effect on taxpayers’ day-to-day lives, unfortunately has once again been pushed aside.
    Instead, Republicans have forged ahead with a heavy emphasis on gun owner protections, partisan redistricting efforts and various anti-abortion bills. But while there is little to from the current session of the General Assembly, all one can do is chalk it up to partisan politics at its finest. To the victors go the spoils.
    Now the onus falls upon Democrats, who obviously are not enjoying their time in the minority, to invigorate their grass root supporters. With the heavy-handedness displayed by the GOP during this session, it could prove easier than once thought.

    The writer is the opinion page editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.
        Despite rumors to the contrary, a piece of legislation approved this week by the Indiana General Assembly and currently awaiting Gov. Mitch Daniels’ signature does not signal a death knell for teachers’ unions across the state.
    Yes, the bill limiting collective bargaining rights for Indiana teachers is a little confusing — in that it seems to take away the very same type of local control about which its Republican sponsors so often wax poetically and patriotically. And, yes, it is almost certainly the first of many shots the GOP intend to fire in the direction of organized labor, which has long thrown its support to Democrats.
    Teachers are understandably upset about the new legislation. But now it’s time for them to act like the responsible adults we believe them to be and get over it. In and of itself, the bill will almost certainly have no negative affect on day-to-day operations at any of the three school districts in Adams County.
  Regrettably, the same cannot be said of other pieces of Daniels’ education agenda that are being ramrodded through the statehouse.
  The expansion of charter schools and a dangerous — and we believe unconstitutional — voucher program which diverts taxpayer money to private schools are much more onerous than was the collective bargaining bill.
   There seems little question, should the voucher bill be approved, that tax dollars will find their way in one form or another to private, faith-based schools, despite an Indiana state constitution which implicitly prohibits taxpayer money from supporting religious instruction. Republicans, including our own State Sen. Travis Holdman, have simply dismissed with a wave of the hand that possibility, claiming that GOP lawyers have assured them the law would pass constitutional muster. If that indeed is the case, the state constitution as a whole would be rendered to being worth less than the paper on which it is printed.
    And, while giddy over their newfound majority status in the statehouse and a seemingly obsessed with bringing K-12 education to its collective knees, Republican lawmakers regrettably have ignored state and local government reforms contained in the now-dusty Kernan-Shepard report of a few years back.
    If teachers’ unions have abused their powers over the years, as was one of the arguments in favor of the stricter collective bargaining law, so too have many township officials. Yet the elimination of the township layer of government, which would seem to fit with the GOP vision of smaller and more efficient government and, we believe, would have no negative effect on taxpayers’ day-to-day lives, unfortunately has once again been pushed aside.
    Instead, Republicans have forged ahead with a heavy emphasis on gun owner protections, partisan redistricting efforts and various anti-abortion bills. But while there is little to from the current session of the General Assembly, all one can do is chalk it up to partisan politics at its finest. To the victors go the spoils.
    Now the onus falls upon Democrats, who obviously are not enjoying their time in the minority, to invigorate their grass root supporters. With the heavy-handedness displayed by the GOP during this session, it could prove easier than once thought.

    The writer is the opinion page editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.
  

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