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WCP Responds to Full-Page Attack Ad on Jim Banks

This Letter to the Editor is being submitted to local newspapers in response to the full-page attack ad on Jim Banks, published March 29, 2011 in the Post and Mail.

To:  Editor

From:  Whitley County Patriots

Dear Editor:

A March 9 article in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel by State Senator Jim Banks, District 17, entitled “Breaking teachers unions does not mean unfair teacher evaluations” prompted what amounts to a March 29 attack ad in the Columbia City Post & Mail.  “State Senator Banks, Stop Listening to the Wrong People!” was “Paid for by Whitley County Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  Sponsored by Whitley County Democrat Central Committee, Marty Shipman, Treasurer.”

There are issues that should be clarified within this ad.  Rational and intelligent discourse from numerous schools of thought expands understanding and raises awareness.  Senator Banks was addressing concerns about education and labor expressed in thousands of letters and messages received by Indiana legislators from teachers, principals and superintendents.  Education is one of the few mandated services required by the Indiana State Constitution.  Based upon the length of the senator’s column and the many thoughts he penned, his concerns and support regarding educators and education should be obvious.

Boldface notations are inserted in the side margins of the WCDCC ad.  One mentions Dr. Morgan Reynolds, former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor.  His discussion referred to by Jim Banks was written in the 1980s.

Another notation cites The Reason Foundation which is based upon the principles of liberty and freedom for all.  Ideas and concepts are precursors to change, sometimes feared, but which often can result in improvement.  How else to get there other than by listening to speakers from various schools of thought?  Schools.  Thought.  Words to keep in mind when discussing improvement to our children’s education.

Third note:  Dr. Charles E. Rice, Professor Emeritus of Law at Notre Dame, was co-founder of Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was “fired” when he would not agree with moving the school to Florida.

The final boldface marginal note highlights “Rasmussen Reports” and concerns across America about public schools having become worse over the past decade.  If a poll indicates a possible trend, should that not be a wake-up call?  Shouldn’t the truth be sought rather than letting emotions rule over reason?  The WCDCC ad focuses on negatives, not upon the future or solutions to the union issues and their costs.

Recent figures indicate 98.2% of Indiana teachers are unionized although joining now is optional.  Most educators work hard with dedication and commitment to shaping future generations.  Unions should not, however, protect those who would abuse the system — any system.  The “rubber rooms” in New York where hundreds of incompetent teachers spend their days “not fired” while drawing full pay is an example of the absurd.  No one disputes rewarding exemplary teachers, but many question the reason for involvement of unaccountable financially interested private operations, i.e. unions.

Visualize the swing of a pendulum, if you will.  There was a point when it was far to the left, with inadequate wages and dismal, unsafe working conditions.  Unions with proper goals for the people did help swing the pendulum back to the center.  With increasing power and politicizing of unions over the last few decades, the pendulum has swung too far the other way where excessive wages, benefits and lower production levels are demanded.  Businesses are forced to raise the cost of products, and in many cases move or outsource jobs to foreign countries in order to compete.  Our nation is hurt economically and we find ourselves in a predicament where changes must be made to bring the pendulum back to center.

WCDCC infers that Senator Banks wrote that teachers had failed.  His reference is actually to “a dynamic” that attracts “the mediocre and the misplaced” as he discussed concerns expressed in “letters on my desk” about Indiana’s educational system, union involvement and expense.  His intention to empower individual schools and local leadership, and seek reform for the betterment of education in Indiana is honorable. As he said, “We have only begun to summon the courage to dip so much as a toe in the waters of reform.”  Well said by
the conservative Constitutionally aware freshman senator from Whitley County.

Whitley County Patriots, Inc.
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