Campaign statement from Democratic 84th Indiana House District candidate Evan Smith:
District 84’s Evan Smith offers solutions to improve educational efficiency, support students and schools
In a gathering in front of R. Nelson Snider High School, Evan Smith, a social studies teacher at North Side High School and candidate for the Indiana State House of Representatives, District 84, unveiled his education reform plan.
Smith, whose candidacy has been endorsed by Indiana’s teachers, focused on creating conditions for students’ success and finding creative cost cutting measures that still provide teachers and schools with the resources they need.
“I don’t think I’m an idealist for believing that education is about more than teaching to a test or that its values transcend Democrat and Republican,” Smith said.
The full statement of the candidate follows:
Principles for Indiana Education Reform
Thomas Jefferson, one of the earliest supporters of public education in our country, said, “Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.” As Americans, this gives us necessary perspective of the crucial role of education. The lagging state of our student achievement relative to the rest of the world gives us the urgency of our current circumstances.
My wife Claire and I are both teachers, and we’ve seen firsthand both the promise of America’s students and the shortcomings of an educational system that owes them more. We’ve seen the tangled network of relationships â€” between governments, school districts, administrators, parents, teachers, unions and, most importantly, students â€” both helping and hindering academic achievement in our great State.
I don’t think I’m an idealist for believing that education is about more than teaching to a test or that its values transcend Democrat and Republican.
What I offer today is obviously not some cure-all or magic bullet, but rather a set of principles and ideas that will guide my decisions as State Representative and, if enacted, put Indiana on the path to academic improvement. These principles are: laying foundations for student success, providing support for teachers and schools, and finding avenues for creative cost cutting in our education budgets.
Foundations for Student Success. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum or education debate, you agree that students come first. For our students to succeed, we have to create the right conditions. In a culture where fewer and fewer students have stable home lives, teachers must be able to offer greater individualized instruction through smaller class sizes. Parents must also be involved in their children’s education. The State of Indiana can help by encouraging parent-teacher conferences, rolling back the destructive decision by the Daniels administration to exclude these sessions from counting toward the required days of the school year.
Support for Teachers and Schools. In decision after decision, the Daniels administration has tried to run Indiana’s schools like a business. In a business, it’s okay to cut things that don’t add to the bottom line, but in education, you’re saying a kids’ futures isn’t profitable enough to support. We’ve seen the same bad idea at work for a decade with No Child Left Behind, where support is taken away from the schools that need it most. All schools, whether thriving or struggling, must be properly funded. We ask a lot of our teachers, and the least we can do is give them the resources they need. It’s not something we like to hear, but we get what we pay for.
Creative Cost Cutting. In order to properly support our schools, we must spend wisely and find creative ways to do more with less. I propose that we explore itemized budget reduction, meaning when the state reduces education budgets, it should include regulations as to how those cuts are applied, for instance, by reducing administrative costs rather than laying off teachers. We can also make our schools operate more efficiently by purchasing supplies in bulk and implementing a pay-to-play approach to athletics. Treating athletics as we treat band and other extracurricular activities sends a message that athletics are not a bigger priority for us than learning, especially when education budgets are stretched so thin. I also suggest that we explore alternatives to the traditional 180-day school year, such as the four-day school week. By slightly expanding the school day, Indiana schools could have the same number of classroom hours a year while also saving on costs such as lunches, transportation, and utilities. In school districts across the country where this has been implemented, student attendance and test scores have risen (associatedcontent.com, 8/12/10). If we’re smart with the steps we take, we can help our schools perform more efficiently and successfully than before. It’s a worthwhile investment in the future of Indiana’s students.
This statement is available online at: