Thursday, June 16, 2016

Public School Dress Code - Beyond the Rumors

An article was printed this for Politicade, labled as a "left leaning media alternative", this week that called out a rural Indiana high school for supposed "discriminatory" disciplinary actions regarding school dress code violations.  The article, titled "Teacher Sent Home After Conducting Social Experiment On The Last Day Of School", accuses educators and administrators of singling out female dress code violations more seriously than their male counterparts.  The article states, 

"The goal of the social experiment was to prove the dress code is sexist and disproportionately exercised against girls."

Hoosier Voices conducted a brief investigation into the accusations made by the article's author and students who were quoted within.  It appears there are a few pieces of information that were left out of the article, either intentionally or without thorough investigation into the events leading up to the "experiment" and the supposed "violations" of the day.  The Indian Creek High School dress code can be found through the schools website under the "Resources" tab.  

Hoosier Voices decided to research this situation after contact from teachers, concerned parents, and alumni from the school.  Our Hoosier Voices founder is a graduate of Indian Creek and currently teaches in the corporation.  It became obvious, during the course of investigating the situation, that some misrepresentation may have gone into the writing of the original article and that there may have been ulterior motives for the basis of the "experiment"

Throughout our investigation it became obvious that the teacher "conducting the experiment" may have tendered a resignation prior to the final day to take a position in a new charter school in Monroe County.  It appears, though many felt he had grand teaching ideas and lessons and was well liked by students, he had a propensity for "bashing" Public schools and consistently took on a role of "rebel".  The "experiment" on the final day appears to have been "conducted" more as a swipe at administrators and less about the social injustices reported.

The article states,

"On a typical school day at Indian Creek High School, administrative staff and teachers monitor the halls between classes to flag girls who show too much skin. The Principal and Assistant Principal sit in the hallways between classes to enforce strict adherence to the dress code.

This is not true according to teachers interviewed for this article.  One teacher stated that,

"Teachers are in the hall before school, during passing periods, and after school as a safety measure."

Others indicate that Administrators patrol the hallways for the same safety measures.  One point the author tried to hammer is that this has been an "on going issue" at the school because girls are disciplined more than boys for dress code violations.  No one interviewed by Hoosier Voices indicated an intentional "plot" by administrators or teachers to single out girls over boys for their attire. They have stated that dress code violations were handled by simple mention to violators, male and female, to take care of the violation so no "punishment" would be handed out.  Some teachers may have gone an extra step to email other teachers of an apparent violation in case the student didn't take care of it after being asked.  It appears that, in extreme cases, students have in the past been asked to "cover up", seek a "change of apparel", or "remove a hat" to comply with the schools school board approved and published dress code.

After initiating this investigation of the supposed "discrimination" of teachers and administrators handling female violations differently than male violations it was noted that female violations tend to be more "severe" because they involve the wearing of more revealing clothing as opposed to simply being able to remove a hat.  It also came to light that the teacher conducting the "experiment" was also in violation of the dress code on the final day wearing a tank top to school.  

Hoosier Voices learned from another teacher source that the reason 
the teacher was asked to leave was two-fold.  

1. Apparently after putting on a shirt to cover the tank top, he went on to remove the cover-up and proceeded to wear his tank.

2. There was also a question of his actions, telling students to break dress code, might have lead to a bullying situation.  Apparently there was a picture taken and posted on social media of a girl's bare midriff (a blatant dress code violation) making fun of her for not wearing all of her clothes.  The girl from the picture told people she wore the "revealing shirt" because she was told (by the teacher) to "break dress code".

Indian Creek administrators have not been immediately available for comment or verification, but it appears the teacher may have been sent home for "insubordination and creating a bullying situation".

This "experiment" was supposedly conducted to prove a blatant attempt by school administrators to discipline female students more often for violations than males.  However, to our investigators, it appears to have fallen short pf proving anything other than being an attempt to rattle parents and community members to express concern over discrimination that does not exist.  It also appears that the teacher involved wanted to make a statement as a departing employee of Public education as he moves to a charter school.  His last "hurrah" may have been a parting shot at the rural school south of Indianapolis, its administrators, his colleagues, and even the students he leaves behind.  While he will not have to deal with any effects from his last lesson at Indian Creek, students will have to decide if the experiment really proved anything or if it was just a frustrated adult setting out to call attention to his soon to be "former employer".

*NOTE - Names were not mentioned in this article out of respect for those teachers and students who chose to participate in the rebuttal of an article that tried to shed a negative light on their school.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jennifer McCormick - Faux in Boots

Where are the kids?

As a teacher in Indiana, I’m very interested in who is elected to run the Department of Education. That person is, in essence, my boss.  I have been impressed with Glenda Ritz and her ability to fight for our students and our teachers through some pretty ridiculous circumstances.  Despite these circumstances she has produced visible results throughout the state and she is to be commended. 

In the interest of fairness (and a bit of curiosity), I decided to take a look at what Dr. Jennifer McCormack had to say.  I checked out her website and looked at her Facebook and Twitter feeds.  After doing that, I decided to write her a letter about what I found.  I posted it to her Facebook wall and I sent it to her campaign’s email address.  Here it is:

Dear Dr. McCormack,

I wanted to make myself more familiar with your platforms and your intentions if elected to become State Superintendent.  I am a music teacher in Central Indiana, so I’m very interested in getting to know a potential “boss.”  I looked at your Facebook page, your Twitter feed and you website.

Here’s the thing…In almost every picture I see you in and almost every post you make, you aren’t in the classroom. You aren’t even in a school.  You are not talking to teachers.  You are schlepping around the state of Indiana attending Lincoln Day dinners and begging GOP delegates to vote for you. 

I looked at your website so that I could find out more about why you think you would be a good superintendent. I didn't find anything other than incoherent whining and grammatical errors. Also, bad website formatting.

For a lady who wants to take the politics out of education, you sure are spending a lot of time hanging out with adults who have nothing to do with teaching. That's curious to me. Maybe slightly hypocritical, too.

I also noticed that the people you surround yourself with used to hang out with Tony Bennett. A word of advice: that's a bad idea in this state. You should know that too, since the school system you currently work for was screwed by Bennett's policies just as badly as most of the rest of us were.

I will give you one compliment: I like those boots you wear with most of your outfits. Classy, yet sassy. Bravo.


Ben Yoder

I don’t know if she’ll read the letter or not and I really don’t expect her to return any correspondence to me.  She’s probably too busy sucking up every dime that’s not nailed down and rubbing elbows with the GOP trying to mount an attack on Glenda Ritz.  I get that.  After seeing what Dr. McCormick is selling though, I’m not buying.  But I do like her boots.
"But I do like her boots."

About our contributing blogger: Ben Yoder is a middle school music teacher in Central Indiana.  He is a proud Indiana State Teachers Association member and is committed to furthering the cause of public education for students all across the state of Indiana and beyond.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mike Pence And The Big Fumble

Mike Pence had a chance, as Governor, to make a big difference in some young lives.  Unfortunately, after Superintendent of PUBLIC Instruction Glenda Ritz's Department Of Education spent over 600 hours working on federal Pre-K grant application, Pence decided (probably after realizing it wouldn't benefit his tea party buddies) not to submit the application.  This fumble cost Indiana children an $80M shot at Pre-K education.

Mike Pence has fumbled the ball many times during his term as Indiana Governor when it comes to PUBLIC education.  He has allowed his GOP cronies to write and pass legislation drastically reducing powers of the ELECTED Superintendent, Glenda Ritz.  He continues to support vouchers to take money from PUBLIC Schools, He touts charter schools even though they score far below traditional PUBLIC schools statewide, and he has released a campaign add featuring his educator wife that contains many false statements and myths. 

ISTA came out with a strong statement showing the Truth versus Myth of Mike Pence's Education record.  Here is the link to their article, "Truth versus Myth" - Mike Pence's education record.

One of the strongest comments regarding Mike Pence's record and his very misleading campaign ad was from an Indiana Educator named Ben Yoder.  Ben share the Pence Campaign ad along with his statement regarding the false and misleading information contained within.  Here is what Mr. Yoder had to say. . .

"The fact that Mike Pence would even dare to talk about what he has "done" for education in the state of Indiana is insulting to teachers, administrators and ESP...ECIALLY the students in this state. Let me pull this ad apart (which is easy to do), piece-by-piece:

1. Mike Pence was a part of starting the first Pre-K program in the state...that's true. But what he fails to mention is that he turned down a federal government grant for $80 million in additional funds to expand Pre-K all across the state. TURNED IT DOWN. The research into the advantages that kids receive from Pre-K education is pretty much indisputable. Mike Pence doesn't care about research. Mike Pence doesn't care about facts. Mike Pence simply doesn't want to be a GOP governor who takes money from the federal government for ANY REASON because he is an ideologue and a very poor executive branch leader.

2. Mike Pence has recommended an increase in public education funding. Yes. But, when you look at where that money is ACTUALLY going, you will see that the majority of that money goes towards expanding our already too-large school voucher program and charter schools. I'm not going to get into the politics of vouchers (I am against them) and charters (I am not against them when they function well) but his statement is extremely misleading.

3. "Our test scores are up." MIKE PENCE HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. This is a testament to our educators and our students.

4. "Our graduation rates are up." MIKE PENCE HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. This is another testament to our educators and our students.

5. "Our students are really beginning to excel." Beginning to excel? Indiana student success really doesn't have anything to do with Mike Pence (or Karen Pence, for that matter).

6. "When you invest in education, you see results." We are seeing results, but they aren't in response to anything Mike Pence has done. Our educators all across this state are continuing to do their jobs despite the many, MANY obstacles that Mike Pence has placed in our way. Despite the fact that he called teachers idiots and then told us "not to take it personally" when the ISTEP results came out last year. Despite the fact that he cut a publicly elected official off at the knees who was charged with running our educational system in this state and put into office by a grassroots campaign comprised largely of teachers. Despite the fact that he has worked tirelessly to funnel money away from traditional public schools and into vouchers and charters that aren't working for our kids. Despite the fact that he has made the teaching profession in this state so undesirable that bright young minds are choosing NOT to be teachers simply because they don't want to put up with the bull$hit that comes along with it. The list goes on and on.

7. "Mike wants to keep doing what he can to make education the number one priority in Indiana." ......... Governor Pence, I don't want you to "take this personally" but the best thing you can do for education in the state of Indiana is to leave office.
Oh, and by the way...SHAME on Karen Pence too for appearing in this ad. As a former teacher, I'd think she'd know better.

Rant over."

After Mr. Yoder's "rant" made the rounds on Facebook. and ISTA posted their argument, and countless others questioned Pence's education agenda once again, Mike Pence announced this past week that he is NOW interested in seeking federal grant money for Pre-K funding.  NOW?  When there are NO grants available for application?  Surely, as Glenda Ritz points out in her recent statement, "Mike Pence must think that Hoosiers have the memory of a goldfish".

Hoosiers have a duty this election cycle.  It is our duty to VOTE in November and see to it that the GOP destruction of our PUBLIC education system does not continue.  There are many strong candidates out there this cycle who will challenge the GOP establishment to turn things around and put our PUBLIC schools back in a positive light.  Watch Hoosier Voices in the coming weeks as we begin to list our endorsements for State Representatives, State Senate, Governor, Superintendent, and more to reverse the destruction and return our schools to our children, parents, and educators.