Tuesday, September 16, 2008


In preparing this essay I read hundreds of pages of material and conducted numerous searches on Google. I knew we had a problem in our educational system that included uncontrolled spending, poor results, and little or no accountability, but I was astounded by what I found.

I have been told by an impeccable source that two prominent elected Indiana state politicians hold high five figure positions within the Ivy Tech Educational System and are rarely seen in their offices. These same elected officials do not recluse themselves from funding votes impacting Ivy Tech revenues. I smell conflict of interest, and ghost employment big time.

In South Bend, IN the local School Board just relieved the Superintendent after only a little over one year and he had a multi-year contract that resulted in a substantial buy-out. This is from a School Board that is operating with limited funds, and now they want the public to contribute money toward a search for a new Superintendent. The Commander thinks we need a new School Board.

In an earlier essay I suggested that the voting public paid little or no attention to School Board elections and both the public and student get hurt in the end. This is a perfect example of an inept School Board with dysfunctional leadership.

The Indiana Department of Education reported that in 2007 only 76.5% of the high school students graduated within four years. Additionally,

90-100% graduation rate – 55 Schools (15.1%)
80-89.9% graduation rate – 135 Schools (37.2%)
70-79.9% graduation rate – 109 Schools (30.0%)
60-69.9% graduation rate – 32 Schools (8.8%)
50-59.9% graduation rate – 13 Schools (3.6%)
Less than 50% graduation rate – 19 Schools (5.2%)

Here are some startling facts from the National Center for Public Policy –

For every 100 Indiana 9th Graders Only 72 graduates from high school.

Only 44 of these enter college.
Only 33 are still enrolled as sophomores.
Only 22 graduate within six years.

The Education Trust (www.edtrust.org) report graduation rates are:

African American 53%
Latino 59%
White 78%
Asian 84%

The Indiana Department of Education also reports that 2004 enrollment in Indiana High Schools dropped 50% or more from 9th Grade to 12th Grade. Only the Evansville Central High School has a graduation rate above the state average, and the Gary and Indianapolis schools are the lowest.

Over 25 to 30 years, a dropout student can cost a community as much as $500,000 in public assistance, health care and incarceration costs. It is estimated that social benefits (social savings from reduced crime only) of a 1% increase in male U.S. high school graduation rates would amount to $1.4 billion. Completing high school raises average annual earnings by approximately $7,216. Wages over a 40 year period without a High School diploma are $852,000, and with a High School diploma $1,221,000.

According to a South Bend Tribune article published on January 3, 2007 South Bend High Schools graduated an estimated average of less than 60% for 2004-05. Private schools greatly out-performed the averages of public schools.

If you Google the question “What are the graduation rates in Indiana High Schools?” or any other state you’ll get the surprise of your life. The differences between urban, suburban and private schools are astounding and troubling.

I could go on and on with falling numbers, but space requires me to summarize my concerns. In Chicago they are now seriously considering awarding varying cash prizes for an A, a B, a C, and even a D. Does this not lead to dependency of state and federal financial support on a long-term basis? That does not represent accountability; it is like rewarding a pet with a treat for performing a trick. Just what we need…another layer of entitlement.

A Gov. Mitch Daniels re-election commercial currently airing, states that for every 100 employees in the Indiana School System only 46 are teachers, thus 64 are administrators or support staff. For every $100 applied to education only 61cents reaches the classroom. Where is the accountability?

Our political leaders have been claiming they are going to improve education year after year and the results only continue to slide backward. Teachers are afraid to discipline students, because they will be sued or punished by unsupportive administrations, and school boards. Paralyzing union contracts allow unproductive teachers even without tenure to remain in classrooms. Parental involvement has decreased within the schools and two-family households are becoming rarer.

The Heritage Foundation reports that the government spent $553 billion on public elementary and secondary education last year, which is 4.2% of GDP.
In the last ten years our government has increased educational spending by 23.5% (adjusted for inflation) and what have we received for our money?

We need hard nosed businessmen who know how to operate with a budget to bring some sense, direction and leadership to our educational woes. Political pandering and false promises must stop. Cut the waste and demand accountability in assuring academic results. A perfect example is the outstanding results being achieved in Chicago at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School as outlined in the Washington Post 9/14/08 George Will column. Parental involvement, financial participation, discipline and accountability equal results, without federal funds.

I have more to say on this vital subject, but it will be saved for a later work. America is destroying itself from within and we better do something before it is too late. It is cheaper to educate effectively than pay for welfare and incarceration, plus it leads to a significant improvement in the quality of one’s life experience.


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