Sunday, May 15, 2016

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

7. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”
Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.


It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3
25. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.
Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Testing madness needs to stop

The following op-ed by NEIFPE's Co-founder Phyllis Bush appeared in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on May 4, and the Fort Wayne News Sentinel on May 6.

May 4
'Testing madness needs to stop': Pressure on students warps learning experience

May 6
We must find an alternative to high-stakes testing

by Phyllis Bush

O, brave new world, that has such tests in it, that cause so much angst for children, teachers, families, and schools, and that is so quickly forgotten once the testing trauma is over. Haven’t we all grown weary of hearing about the latest ISTEP+ debacles?

In many respects, it is heartening news that five local education and business leaders have been appointed to the new statewide ISTEP+ review panel; however, doesn’t this beg the question of what is at the heart of the testing issue? Our education policymakers seem to believe that if we replace ISTEP+ with another test, all will be right in the world.

During the past week I have heard from area teachers that the problems in this year’s tests have been a nightmare thanks to technology glitches and because of the distress of children. Recognizing that there are serious problems is the first step that the ISTEP+ review panel should address, but perhaps the more pertinent issue that really needs to be examined is the very idea of high-stakes testing.

Since the state has handcuffed school districts, teachers and parents from opting out of the test, have our policymakers seriously considered the damaging effects on children that have been caused by the consequences of all of the technological failures when computer screens say fail?

Educators understand that there are only two instructionally sound reasons for testing: diagnostic and evaluative purposes. Here in Indiana, we are using these tests for neither of those reasons. Whether tests are standardized or teacher-generated, testing that is punitive in nature is both damaging and wrong. Is this what we want for our children? Do we want children to be learners and thinkers, or do we want them to be expert test takers?

Is it fair to punish schools with closings or less funding and teachers with poor evaluations for the consequence of test scores? Is it fair to punish a child because he is who he is or because he performed how he performed?

Besides the inherent damage to schools and children being caused by high-stakes testing for dubious accountability purposes, we need to consider the fiscal damage to our state. When the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education first began researching the cost of testing in 2012, we found that ISTEP+ testing in Indiana was costing taxpayers $48 million. Last fall, we were surprised to find that the total cost of testing is much more elusive. From all of our research, the estimates for testing in this state range wildly from $56 million to $130 million.

Ever since 2008, when $300 million was slashed from school funding and then followed up by tax caps, public schools have been struggling financially. Class sizes have ballooned, and resources, including transportation, have been cut. Setting aside the fiscal irresponsibility of our state legislature, couldn’t this money be better spent on providing resources to our schools?

We have been told that standards and accountability are what are important in making our schools better. Common sense tells us there are much better ways of holding schools accountable. By trusting our principals and administrators and allowing them to do their jobs as educational and building leaders, we might find that all of these spurious accountability measures would be unnecessary.

Maybe it is time to consider another method of accountability besides high-stakes testing. Tests like ISTEP+ or whatever its replacement may be have shown to be detrimental to children’s health, well-being and real academic progress and have been used as an excuse to divert much-needed resources from schools to hand over to for-profit companies – and to waste our tax dollars.

This testing madness needs to stop.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here?

by Phyllis Bush

(Originally published on Facebook)

Many politicians are beholden to their base in order to be re-elected. Because so few people have traditionally voted, especially in off years, unhappy voters are hugely influential in setting the political agenda for the rest of us. Since those unhappy folks are mad about nearly everything, they choose candidates and instruct them to cut taxes and to obstruct governance. Then when nothing gets done, we are all angry, and we blame it on everyone but ourselves, because those who voted, voted for obstructionists and hard liners, and the rest of us stayed home and complained about our votes not counting. We should hardly be shocked since this is what we get from our apathy.

Instead of looking for solutions to deal with the serious issues facing us, we get distracted by non-issue threats like transgender bathrooms rather than real issue threats like repairing our infrastructure or dealing with inadequate funding of our social services. This vicious cycle continues because rather than telling their constituents the truth about issues and about choices that need to be made to solve these issues, politicians appeal to our baser selves by sowing seeds of discontent and by concentrating on wedge issues rather than on the compromises needed for governance.

The bottom line is that it is our own fault because we want easy answers to the complexities of life. We are willing to believe what we are told without questioning anyone who reinforces our pre-conceived notions. We are willing to rant and to complain and to blame. So, we sit at our keyboards and angrily click on the latest topic that annoys us, and we periodically rant about the latest slight that angers us--whether it is personal or political.

If anything is ever to change, we need to get off our asses to do the hard work of living in a democracy. We need to get informed, to get engaged, to get involved, to think, and to hold our elected officials to the same standard as we would hold our friends and families.

Rather than waiting for superman, we need to channel our own inner strength and roll up our sleeves to do what is necessary to change the world.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #33– May 2, 2016

Dear Friends,

Note: There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.
_____

In Indiana’s bicentennial year, will Hoosier voters elect candidates who will vote to dismantle public education in Indiana?

The architect of Indiana’s damaging shift to privatizing Indiana’s public schools has a challenger in tomorrow’s primary election.

Representative Behning has done more than any other member of the House to dismantle public education and send public tax money to private and religious schools.

Because of the law he sponsored in 2011, Indiana is now paying public money for religious education for the first time in 160 years. Public money paid to private and religious schools totaled over $134 million in 2015-16 according to state financial reports.

Now he is being challenged in House District 91 by Jim Grimes, a deputy in the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

All who believe Indiana education policy has gone in the wrong direction in the past five years should hold Representative Behning accountable and support Jim Grimes in District 91.
[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]
House District 91

House District 91 includes the southwest corner of Marion County and the southeast corner of Hendricks County, including portions of Plainfield.

Representative Behning’s Goal: Public Money to Pay for All Private and Religious Education and a Privatized Education System in Indiana

If you or people you know believe Indiana’s school reforms in the past five years have hurt our schools, no one is more responsible for the General Assembly’s education policies that have brought us to where we are than Representative Behning. Here is a brief list of misguided laws he has sponsored:
  • He sponsored the 2011 voucher law which, after an historic legislative battle including a 9-hour House hearing over 2 days, allowed public tuition money to go to private and religious schools for the first time in 160 years since the 1851 Constitution.
  • He sponsored the massive 2013 voucher expansion law which rewrote eligibility rules allowing thousands of students who had always been in private schools to get public voucher tuition. This created a new fiscal cost paying for private school students who had never before been in the public count, hidden at the time of passage, of $40 million dollars according to the most recent state financial reports for 2014-15.
  • He sponsored the 2011 charter expansion law that has allowed private colleges to authorize public charter schools using public money voted on in private trustee meetings, as Grace College and Seminary from northern Indiana has now done over the strong objections of Monroe County leaders in southern Indiana. A charter school turned down by the Indiana Charter Board went authorizer-shopping and found Grace College willing to approve a Monroe County school 160 miles away. That is not right!
  • He sponsored the 2013 partisan rewrite of Indiana’s landmark bipartisan 1999 accountability law, forcing the A-F letter grade system based on high stakes testing into law for the first time. He has thus led the creation of a system in which all students and all teachers now give first priority to the high stakes test, narrowing the curriculum to what is tested and thereby slowly dismantling the balanced curriculum of the arts, civics and foreign language that Indiana once had.
  • He has been the dominant force in making Indiana an experimental marketplace of school choice in which all schools, public and private, compete based on high stakes testing for the hearts and minds of parents. His policies have forced all schools to give a higher priority to marketing their school to build enrollment needed to survive than to building a strong and creative curriculum.
Jim Grimes, according to the Indianapolis Star (May 1, page 4A), is concerned about the impact of these policies and is worried these new policies “will leave children in public schools behind.”

Based on the long record of Representative Behning’s effort to diminish public education, it is clear that Jim Grimes deserves the support of all public school advocates over Representative Behning in this primary election, especially those in House District 91.

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year. Will public education survive the political attacks?

Contact your friends in House District 91 about supporting Jim Grimes in tomorrow’s primary election.

Thanks for standing up in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.

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Vic’s Election Notes on Education #32– May 1, 2016

Dear Friends,

Note: There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.
_____

In Indiana’s bicentennial year, will Hoosier voters elect candidates who will vote to dismantle public education in Indiana?

In House District 17, an open seat after the retirement of Representative Tim Harman, two candidates are running in the Republican primary election in a district that is normally a safe Republican seat.

The two candidates are Jesse Bohannon and Jack Jordan.

Of the two candidates, Jack Jordan deserves the support of public school advocates in the House District 17 race in the May 3rd primary election.
[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

House District 17

House District 17 includes all of Marshall County and a large portion of Fulton County, including Bremen, Bourbon, La Paz, Plymouth, Argos and Rochester.

Key Points for Supporting Public Education

My recommendation to support Jack Jordan in District 17 is based on these key points:
  • Jesse Bohannon has long been an advocate for more private school vouchers. He ran for a House seat in 2014 in a different district (House District 48), losing narrowly in the primary to Douglas Miller. At the time he was a teacher at a private alternative school called the Crossing, and he ran for the seat in 2014 saying he would make voucher expansion a priority. “Bohannon identified school vouchers as the big issue for him. He favors expanding the program for the K-12 school system, allowing more state funding earmarked for education to follow students, whether they attend public or private schools or are home-schooled.” (posted April 22, 2014 by Tim Vandenack of the Elkhart Truth)
  • Paying taxpayer-funded tuition for home-schooling would be a huge new expensive expansion. The concept was introduced in 2016 in the General Assembly in bills establishing “Education Savings Accounts”, a proposal that I call “Reduced Learning No Accountability Accounts” that I have described in previous notes. The bills filed to implement this concept have not advanced, but if more voucher advocates like Jesse Bohannon favoring voucher expansion are elected, these damaging bills may advance. Any move to enact this voucher expansion would further decimate funding for public schools.
  • Jack Jordan has been a leader in public education in his local community. He was elected and served for eight years on the Bremen School Board. During that span he served as Bremen School Board President. His background gives him strong experience to understand the needs and issues of public schools.

Based on these differences, it is clear that Jack Jordan deserves the support of all public school advocates over Jesse Bohannon, especially those in House District 17.

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year. Will public education survive the political attacks?

Contact your friends in House District 17 about supporting Jack Jordan.

Thanks for standing up in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #31– April 29, 2016

Dear Friends,

Note: There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.
_____

In Indiana’s bicentennial year, will Hoosier voters elect candidates who will vote to dismantle public education in Indiana?

School voucher leaders and voucher supporting groups want more and more public money to go to private school vouchers. They are now trying to oust Senator Kenley in Senate District 20 by bankrolling his challenger Scott Willis.

Their latest scheme to expand vouchers to all parents including home schools would give parents approximately $7000 on a debit card, the amount that now goes to the school district, to fund their own child’s schooling at a private school or by paying an “individual, a tutoring agency, a distance learning program, or licensed occupational therapist, “ in the words of a bill filed in the 2016 session. It’s a wild and radical concept called Education Savings Accounts, which their lobbyist in the 2016 session called “the future of school choice in Indiana.”

This would be enormously expensive and a genuine budget buster. They no doubt would face opposition on the extra costs involved from Indiana’s guardian of the budget, Senator Kenley of Noblesville.

So they have deftly orchestrated a campaign against Senator Kenley in favor of his primary election opponent Scott Willis, who will not question their plans for more and more vouchers, despite their expense and despite the fact that Education Savings Accounts will dismantle our long heritage of public education.

The wealthy donors behind the voucher organizations have dominated the education agenda of Governor Pence for four years, but Senator Kenley has been an independent force controlling the integrity of the Indiana budget. Now they want to get Senator Kenley out of their way.

Public education advocates and all who support public schools in Senate District 20 in Noblesville and Hamilton County should not be fooled. They should see through this ploy and support Senator Kenley in any way they can in Tuesday’s May 3rd primary election.
[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]
Senate District 20

Senate District 20 is made up of the northern portions of Hamilton County around Noblesville and Westfield. Senator Kenley has served the district for 24 years and through enormous work on budgetary matters has risen to the powerful chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, a position in which he oversees the two-year state budget for the Senate.

The First Irony

There are two ironies in this effort by wealthy heavy hitters in the school choice movement trying to oust the powerful Appropriations Committee Chairman Senator Kenley.

The first irony is that Senator Kenley has never voted against vouchers in the key votes in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. The voucher crowd still wasn’t happy. They wanted him to endorse all of their expansion plans without question, but Senator Kenley, as he has done on all issues, tried to protect the integrity of the budget by reigning in the costs of some of the voucher expansion proposals. He sought changes in committee to reduce the fiscal impact of some proposals.

The voucher leaders have apparently never forgiven him.

The Second Irony

The second irony is that Scott Willis is not talking about voucher issues supported by his financial backers but instead has focused on the need for greater funding for public schools in Hamilton County, as if a first year Senator can impact the funding formula in any way. After 24 years of hard work in the Senate, Senator Kenley now has the power to change the funding formula and indeed did change the funding formula in the 2015 budget to boost funding for suburban school districts like Noblesville by shifting $250 million away from complexity funding, to the disappointment of schools in urban and rural areas serving low-income students. He has the power to do more of that, but a first term Senator will not.

If the voters remove Senator Kenley from his powerhouse budget position, they will be throwing away their power to influence the funding formula.

The financial backers of Scott Willis from the voucher organizations really don’t care about the funding formula. They just want to show that anyone, even those in powerful positions, who questions and trims their plans to dismantle and privatize public education will be defeated in the next election.

They did it to Senator Waterman in District 39 in the 2014 primary. Now they are trying to do it to Senator Kenley in District 20.

A Clear Choice for Primary Voters

In a largely Republican area, the winner of the May 3rd primary election will be the clear favorite in the general election this fall.

In the tradition of democracy, the primary voters will help determine the future of public education in Indiana on May 3rd. I respect the voters. Democracy works best when all participate. Be sure to vote!

No one should be fooled in this match up. Luke Kenley deserves the support of all public school advocates over Scott Willis, especially those in Senate District 20.

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year.

Contact your friends in Senate District 20.

Thanks for standing up in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #30– April 28, 2016

Dear Friends,

Note: There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.
_____

Every advocate for public education should know that Senator Vaneta Becker has been a true friend of public education for a long time.

Now she is running for reelection in Indiana Senate District 50 in the May 3rd primary. Jeremy Heath is challenging her in the Republican primary.

The choice is clear. Senator Becker deserves the strong support of all who support public education in Senate District 50 and across Indiana in her race for reelection on May 3rd.
[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]
Senate District 50

Senate District 50 includes portions of Vanderburgh County and adjoining portions of Warrick County bordering the Ohio River. Senator Becker has served District 50 with distinction since 2005.

Senator Vaneta Becker

Senator Becker was a strong voice for public education in the House for 24 years starting in 1981 before moving to the Senate in 2005.

She knows public education well. Her husband, now retired, served the students of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in a long career as a teacher and school administrator.

In the twenty years that I have been observing the General Assembly, I watched Senator Becker stand up strongly for public education in the battle against private school vouchers in 2005 when the proposal failed, and again in 2011 when the proposal unfortunately passed. She knows deeply the issues involved in protecting public education from attacks and providing resources needed for our public school students. She is not afraid to speak her mind. She has earned the respect of every public education advocate who has worked with her.

Her opponent Jeremy Heath ran unsuccessfully for the General Assembly in 2014 against Representative Gail Riecken. He has not made education issues a major part of his campaign against Senator Becker. It is not clear from his campaign statements available online whether he supports or opposes private school vouchers.

A Clear Choice for Primary Voters

In a largely Republican area, the winner of the May 3rd primary election will be the clear favorite in the general election this fall.

The difference is clear. Vaneta Becker deserves the support of all public school advocates, especially those in Senate District 50. Be sure to vote!

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year.

Contact your friends in Senate District 50.

Thanks for standing up in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.

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