It’s been an interesting week in Indiana politics and it’s only Wednesday. Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg came out and offered a plan to “reform” the Department of Child Services and ISTEP test scores came out. Why are these two related? Grab a seat and just follow me on this one.
Gregg, a very good guy and fellow attorney and former radio talk show host, says he would restore money cut from DCS and use it, in part, to hire more workers to prevent child deaths. DCS endured about a $116 million budget cut in the last couple budget cycles, because this state like, like every other one in the Union, was going through a tough financial crisis. Gregg, and his running mate, Vi Simpson, have both implied that these budget cuts are possibly responsible for child deaths that have taken place under the agency’s watch.
Well, here’s the question, if these cuts have been so devastating to DCS then obviously that should be reflected in the data. Well, here’s the data…
- There were 25 fatalities due to abuse or neglect in 2010. That number was 54 in 2005.
- DCS reviewed nearly 95,000 abuse and neglect cases in 2011. That number nearly 47,000 in 2004
- 96% of families got at least one monthly visit from a case manager in 2011. That number was 23% in 2007.
- DCS completed 1,787 adoptions in 2011. That number was 1,045 in 2004.
So if DCS has is being devastated by budget cuts, shouldn’t that be reflected in the data? Now let’s turn our attention to ISTEP.
My Democratic friends and their teacher union playmates have bemoaned the fact that education funding lost $300 million in 2010 under the Daniels administration. Never mind the fact the state was going through the worst economy since the Great Depression as they like to tell us. But if schools had suffered under this $300 million cut then that should be reflected in test scores, right? Nope.
As Dr. Tony Bennett mentioned Tuesday, test scores are up for the third year in a row. Not only are test scores up, but the state made record gains in the sense that for the first time more than 80% of students demonstrated proficiency on at least one of the subjects tested. If these budget cuts to education were so horrible and teachers had to fired and universal Armageddon unleashed, shouldn’t that be reflected in the test scores?
Maybe things aren’t as bad as some would like you to believe? Or for that matter, maybe money isn’t the answer to every problem and governments, at least on some level, are starting to learn to do what responsible families do across Indiana every day, live within their means while still getting the job done.
Just a thought.