By Shane Vander Hart
The debate continues. You may remember Matthew Ladner called anti-common core activists in Indiana a bunch of yahoos since they helped defeat incumbent Republican Tony Bennett in the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction race. Erin Tuttle, who for a “yahoo” writes quite well , wrote in the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette:
The Bennett fiasco brought an exceptionally nasty rebuke from Matthew Ladner, policy adviser to Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. Opponents of Common Core, Ladner wrote at a popular blog, “have revealed themselves to be unsophisticated ya-hoos (sic).” A little further on, Ladner repeats the thought if not his own spelling by referring to “right-wing Hoosier yayhoos (sic).” In explaining Bennett’s loss, Rick Hess at the American Enterprise Institute was more civil in his disdain for Indiana voters. He advocates for this “reform agenda” but recognizes the truth that it does “not appeal to middle-class and suburban voters.”
Elitists just don’t believe in the American Experiment. Ladner, like Bennett, doesn’t want to listen to the people because he has no faith in them. That skepticism makes them look elsewhere.
It’s no surprise that at the root of it all, Bennett, Hess and Bush are all funded, or otherwise connected to groups funded by, the same elitists who spawned Obama’s reform agenda. But on any one issue, you can’t have two masters. You can’t look to the federal government and the people of Indiana. That’s where federalism comes in.
Now the Indiana legislature and Gov.-elect Mike Pence have a choice to make. Will they look to the people or will they look to Washington and the special interests?
As for Ladner and his ilk, I note that long ago, the British disdainfully called the patriots “Yankee Doodles,” and they mocked George Washington as an ignoramus. So go ahead. Call me a yahoo. But if you paint my portrait, make sure you show me holding the Declaration of Independence in one hand and the Constitution in the other.
Matthew Ladner responded to her article:
Now the writer also makes her case against Tony along the way. “With the advent of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind in 2001, followed by President Obama’s Race to the Top, Common Core and NCLB waiver programs, we have been under constant pressure to surrender education decision-making to Washington and its trade association partners. Every aspect of voter disdain can be traced to the requirements imposed by federal programs such as the Race to the Top Fund Assessment Grant and the NCLB waiver.”
So the people of Indiana rose up in long-suffering anger regarding federal interference in schools and chose to take it out on Tony Bennett. This is plausible if we take “the people” to mean “the writer” but not so much otherwise.
Tony didn’t have anything to do with NCLB, and Indiana pulled out of the Race to the Top competition. I’d be willing to wager by left big-toe that if we administered a survey to the Indiana public and asked them to explain the elements of Indiana’s NCLB waiver that all but a small percentage would likely reply “what NCLB waiver?” or something similar. People are rational actors and the vast majority of them won’t make time in their lives to learn anything more about NCLB waivers than studying Mayan hieroglyphs absent some good reason to do so. I’m also willing to bet that the new Superintendent will lose her real or imagined federalist fervor and choose not to nullify the waiver so as to have almost every public school in Indiana facing NCLB sanctions.
A few points to make here in response to Matthew Ladner.
- Indiana is a Race to the Top grantee as a member of the PARCCS. asessment consortium which was awarded a RTTT Fund Assessment grant. You can read their MOU right here (pg. 284).
- Bennett’s request for a NCLB waiver while your average person may not have known about the waiver they certainly didn’t like the results.
- If Glenda Ritz abandons Federalism she can then be voted out as well. Also Laudner seems to forget that with Governor-Elect Pence in place and with Indiana having a Republican legislature it is unlikely that any reforms initiated will be undone, especially if it means more Federal regulations – not that the NCLB waiver didn’t come with Federal strings attached.
- Insiders recently polled have a different take on the meaning of Tony Bennett’s defeat than Matthew Ladner does.