Public school teachers have seen it coming for many years. In my home state, Indiana, this is particularly true. There has been a veiled effort–often quite thinly veiled–to bring Christianity into public education.
The Hoosier state has been a focal point for controversial education reform for the past decade. Indiana is a leader in the volume of school choice vouchers issued, the vast majority of which are used to send students to religious schools. Vouchers have become an “end around” way for Christianity to get a foot in the door of public education. If you can’t force it into public schools–due to that pesky road block called the 1st Amendment–then allow public tax money to be funneled into private religious schools in the form of vouchers.
As Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence came to power in the wake of a historic election for the office of State Superintendent of Education in which a relatively unknown educator, named Glenda Ritz, rode a wave of teacher-led, grass roots support to pull off a stunning upset over the much better funded campaign of the incumbent, GOP insider, Tony Bennett. The campaign against Bennett was so successful that Glenda Ritz actually garnered more votes in her win for superintendent than Mike Pence received in his win in the governor’s race. It was an astounding example of democracy in action–until Governor Pence thumbed his nose at the will of the people and immediately set about stripping Glenda Ritz’s office of much of its power. Pence–the self-proclaimed champion of small government–created a second state education board and gave it much of the power instead of the traditional board overseen by Glenda Ritz. I wrote much more about this despicable series of events in an article last year called, Why Mike Pence Terrifies Me.
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