Dr. Brian Smith
Hamilton Southeastern Schools
August 4, 2009
Dear Dr. Smith:
I was informed yesterday by the fine folks at WTHR-13 (Motto: "#1 in Ratings, Top Five in Remedial Teleprompter Phonetics") of your decision to use some of those precious Dwindling Educational Resources you husband up there for Indiana's Fastest-Growing School District and Unscientific Living Laboratory of Caucasian Population Density Studies hiring a battery of attorneys (the collective noun is said to be "Eloquence", though I prefer "Whiff"; a crowd of officials, elected or appointed, is An Execution, and if there's one more fitting in the whole OED I'd like to see it) to fight the state's new Daniels Special Session education funding formula which, it turns out, unintentionally, I'm sure, is exceedingly unfair to popular, well-off, and chalky districts of which yours is the paragon.
Now, Doc, the Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend, and further, don't think I'll ever forget how you bucked the Unstintingly Republican supermajority up there and testified on behalf of the Democrat's plan to actually increase educational spending across the state. I remember how movingly you spoke of the hypothetical JV Lacrosse aspirant forced to practice in a shirt whose logo was transferred, not embossed (assuming you couldn't lay off enough teachers first), spiraling from there into a life of second-tier private college frat life, doctor shopping, and, finally, crashing one of his private planes in an attempt to fake his own death to avoid the petty, vindictive wrath of SEC examiners run amok, like so many other Hamilton County residents before him. Wasn't a dry eye in the house. Well, the Senate, anyway.
So I'm watching the piece yesterday, and 13 thoughtfully provided flying graphics to illustrate your main contention, about how unfairly the current system rewards the Lucky Ducky inner-city bastion of Indianapolis Public Schools ("$8,600 per student") and war-torn Gary ("$11,500", Comin' Right At Ya!) vs. your paltry $5760 per. And if I haven't been able to actually confirm those numbers yet, well, that didn't seem to stop 13, so let's run with it. First, sir, I applaud your courageous willingness to single out the largest, poorest, and, well, darkest districts in the state; a lot of overeducated mouthpieces wouldn't have the guts to remove the government teat ($160 Gs, plus perks, in your first year) from their own mouths long enough to do so, or might've scrupled at being seen in public hurling lightning bolts, and legal briefs, onto the heads of thousands of innocent victims of poverty and institutionalized racism from high atop Mt. Whitey. Bravo. Perhaps you should've encouraged them to get a few shots of the district's single, sadly overcrowded, competition-class Olympic-sized pool. Then again, it's still summer vacation, and all the kids are probably at the Lake, so I'll trust your decision.
Anyway, it went well, don't you think? And kudos for having the vision, and the courage, in just your first month on the job, to blame the Darkies for your having to float a Property Tax increase past A Subdivision of Teabaggers (or is it A Reception?). WTHR never even noticed. Not a single mention of the free/reduced price lunch program, when, frankly it would have been easy, since they could have taken the pie chart with your 10% and just reversed the labels for IPS*. Not a single mention of how your Special Education rate lags the state average by almost exactly the same 3% by which IPS exceeds it. Or how IPS, still twice your Rapidly-Expanding size, yet educates more than seven times as many limited-English speakers. None of which, of course, would begin to address the basic and historical inequalities in Free Education brought about by localized funding, multiple taxing entities, and outright fucking bigotry, which makes it just fine for wealthy districts to crow about their educational systems while complaining about receiving an insufficient share of everybody else's taxes. I guess "Land of Opportunity" means different things to different people, Dr. Smith, and may I say yours is admirably creative. Remind me to get a copy of your Rookie card.
And if I may, a personal note, Doc. Though we differ on some of the finer points, I've grown up with functional Republican majorities operating the country, so I understand. It's your job, and your job as a (de facto, at least) Republican functionary occasionally includes saying and doing things no sincere, educated, thoughtful, considerate Christian man would ever say except when required to pander to the conventional and surprisingly lucrative idea of what the Base wants. I realize that you, Sir, are no racist. And I just want you to know your secret's safe with me.
James B.S. Riley
* I admit it is sometimes difficult to reconcile my notion of humor, or "humor", with the needs of a surprising number of people who apparently come here seeking facts. Last (school) year HSE schools ponied up free lunches to 7% of its students, and reduced-price lunches to 4%. For IPS it was 75% free and 7% reduced. So, no, you couldn't just reverse the graphs, not unless you were trying to be as sneaky with the facts in the opposite direction as Dr. Smith is in his own. Ya got me.