STATE WIDE–When thousands of teachers dressed in red and covered the courtyard of the Indiana State House, one of their priorities was getting a raise. Democratic candidate for governor Dr. Woody Myers believes it can happen, even with a budget seriously tightened because of coronavirus.
“It’s gonna be challenging, isn’t it?” said Myers, Tuesday, after releasing he and running mate Linda Lawson’s plan for K-12 education. “We’re gonna have to look at that budget very carefully. We’re gonna have to look at every dollar that’s being allocated today and decide…is that something we can wait on?”
LISTEN: Dr. Woody Myers talks about his plan
Myers’ plan stresses accountability, both in the fiscal sense and in how the state manages academics and testing.
“We have to put more fiscal oversight in place,” said Myers in a Tuesday interview, “such as we do not have the kind of debacles that have occurred under the Holcomb administration, such as Indiana virtual schools where about $70 million vanished into thin air.”
Myers was referring to an investigation into about $68 million that was found to be missing from two virtual schools run by the state.
Accountability under the Myers plan includes locking the education budget so that it can’t be touched once it is in place. Myers admits that would be tough, and said it could only be accomplished if the state elected new lawmakers.
“Certainly the folks that are there now have not shown much interest in solving those problems,” he said. He did not offer his own solution as to where money for raises might come from, or a contingency plan, were he not able to exert enough influence to convince the Hoosier electorate to change the political orientation of the legislature.
The plan calls for a different approach to testing, which Myers said is necessary because of failures of ISTEP and ILEARN standardized state testing.
“Many millions of dollars were invested in that and it was found that you couldn’t use that information for the purposes that it was intended,” said Myers, referring specifically to ISTEP, but also criticizing ILEARN for its problems. “I want our teachers teaching the material that they know the kids need to have.”
He also proposes a pause on any new charter school.
“What we want is equal accountability of the charters,” he said. “If we’re gonna invest public dollars in these entities, then there’s gonna have to be the right accountability.”
Myers’ plan also calls for implicit bias training for teachers, pausing vouchers (which he says will put money back into public schools), and requiring kindergarten.