Monday, January 9, 2017

NEIFPE: 2016 Year In Review

NEIFPE's Year in Review, 2016.








###

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #268 – January 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

At the first Senate Education Committee meeting of the 2017 Session on Wednesday January 4th, Senate Bill 30 was given a hearing. Senate Bill 30 deserves strong support.

It provides that the Indiana Department of Education give information to Indiana school districts about the name of the school that each voucher student in the district transfers to.

This bill providing greater information received widespread support in the hearing. ICPE lobbyist Joel Hand spoke in favor of the bill. The lobbyist for the Institute for Quality Education, the group that supports private school vouchers, testified in favor of the bill as well. Every group that testified favored the bill.

Senate Bill 30 will be voted on next Wednesday January 11th at the second meeting of the Senate Education Committee which begins at 1:30pm. Before that time, let the members of the committee know that you stand in strong support of Senate Bill 30.

Senate Bill 30

The sponsor of Senate Bill 30 is Senator Eric Koch, who previously served in the House of Representatives until he ran for the Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Senator Steele. Senate Bill 30 requires the Indiana Department of Education to provide two things to each public school district:
“(1) The name of each eligible school in which an eligible choice scholarship student who has legal settlement in the school corporation is enrolled; and (2) number of the eligible choice scholarship students who are enrolled in each eligible school for the current school year.
This information would be very helpful to school districts as they work to meet the needs of all students who have legal settlement in their district.

Contact Senate Education Committee Members

Let your own Senator know that you support Senate Bill 30, as well as the members of the Senate Education Committee who will vote on this bill on Wednesday, January 11th. Education Committee members this year are as follows:

Republican Senators Kruse (Chair), Raatz, Bassler, Crane, Freeman, Kenley, Leising, and Zay

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops

One easy way to email each Senator is to go to the Indiana General Assembly website and click on Committees and then on Senate Education Committee. You will then see small pictures of each committee member on the left. When you click on each picture, a link to send the Senator an email will come up for you to paste a brief note to each saying that you support Senate Bill 30.

Thank you for your dedicated support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!


ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is again representing ICPE in the new budget session which began on January 3, 2017. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!


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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

How to Reward Teachers

by Phyllis Bush

The topic of performance payouts has gotten a great deal of reaction in the past few days. While I would imagine that those who came up with the plan for rewarding teachers were well-intended, I have a lot of issues with merit or performance pay for teachers.

While I was still in the classroom, I thought of myself as a career teacher and as a professional—not as a trained monkey who would perform for a reward. The whole concept of rewards strikes me in much the same way as when students used to ask me if they could get extra credit for this or that. My stock answer was usually something like this: your reward should be the intrinsic value of learning and from the value of spending 55 minutes per day with me.

Most good teachers do not do the things that they do that are above and beyond their contract so that they can be rewarded. They do it because it is the right thing to do. That is not how most teachers are wired. When I paid for things out of my own pocket for my students or for my own classroom, I did it because it needed to be done...not because I was looking for a reward or a Bozo button.

If legislators or schools districts really want to reward teachers, perhaps the best way would be to afford them respect as professionals by providing positive working conditions, by making sure that class sizes are small, by providing salaries that are commensurate with their education and experience level, by providing adequate social services to help children, by funding districts equitably, and by listening to educators' concerns about developmentally and instructionally appropriate methods of teaching.

Merit pay and performance payouts pit teachers against one another. Whether the intent was to reward teachers in specific zip codes, I cannot say, but whatever the case, the result is yet another slap in the face to those who work in the "wrong" district.

[EDITOR: This article was published as a letter in the December 29 edition of the Fort Wayne, News Sentinel]

###

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From the Network for Public Education – The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos


The more we learn, the more we are certain that Betsy DeVos is bad for public schools and for kids.

When De Vos has to choose between quality schools and “the free market,” she chooses “the free market” of privatized choice every time. The best interests of children take a back seat.

And we know the DeVos endgame–shut down our neighborhood public schools, and replace them with a patchwork of charters, private schools and online learning.

We can’t let that happen and we need your help. Present and future generations of children are depending on us to act now. We now know that some Senators have grave doubts. It is our job to make those doubts grow into active resistance to DeVos. Our senators are in district offices from 12/17 – 1/2.

Here are our three toolkits to help you do your part.

Toolkit 1. Call your senators’ offices. The toolkit with numbers and a phone script can be found here. It includes a link to phone numbers.

Toolkit 2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can find a model here.

Toolkit 3. Visit your senators’ offices. If you cannot get an appointment, hand deliver a letter. Our toolkit, which you can find here has a model to use, and directions to find local offices. If you cannot hand deliver it, send your letter in the mail.

When you go into the toolkits and commit to an action, we have a simple form that let’s us know what you did. As a thank you, you will receive a special badge for your Facebook page or Twitter account each time you complete an action, and you will be entered into our drawing for a copy of Reign of Error signed by Diane Ravitch.

The drawing will be held on January 5th, so please begin your actions today. Share this link on your Facebook page and Twitter account, or email it to a friend.

We thank you for all that you do. Sadly, our nation’s children need you to do more.

For more go to: The NPE Toolkit: Stop Betsy DeVos

###

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #267 – November 23, 2016

Dear Friends,

Death by a thousand cuts.

That is the likely future for public education unless public education advocates are willing to rally to defend it vigorously against two proposals in the weeks and months ahead.

The November 8th general election has left public education under severe threat from those who would diminish and dismantle it at both the state and federal level. The defense should begin now by talking with members of the General Assembly and with members of Congress.

At the state level, the expensive proposal called Education Savings Accounts which would give state funding for the first time to unregulated home schools and would give a financial incentive for parents to leave the public schools will go forward, most likely as a part of the budget and touted incorrectly as a way to save money. It was sponsored in the 2016 short session by Ways and Means Chair Dr. Tim Brown in the House and by Senator Jeff Raatz in the Senate.

At the federal level, Donald Trump’s proposal to shift $20 billion from current federal education funding, presumably from Title 1 reading programs for low income students, to pay for private school tuition will go forward. He detailed his proposal in a speech in Cleveland on September 8th. His choice today of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, well known as a critic of public education and as a wealthy promoter of private school vouchers, is aligned with his stated plan to give public money for private school tuition in all 50 states.

The concept of public education is now in direct jeopardy both in Indiana and at the federal level.

In Indiana’s bicentennial year, the privatizers won the election.

Will Public Education Survive in Indiana?


The irony that these attacks on public education in Indiana are continuing during Indiana’s bicentennial year is astounding. It is as if we are celebrating our past with no awareness of how much of our success as a state can be attributed to our hard won battles to bring a strong public education to all.

Progress in Indiana can be directly linked to public education efforts written into our first Constitution in 1816 and strengthened in our second 1851 Constitution after public education advocates led by Caleb Mills gained influence in the 1840’s. Caleb Mills was the founder of Wabash College in Crawfordsville which ironically is now represented in the House by Representative Brown, the sponsor of the program to dismantle public education called Education Savings Accounts. Caleb Mills believed that public education serving all children and paid for by taxpayers should be both non-sectarian, so as not to offend the taxpayers who would balk at funding schools that are teaching a faith they could not support, and non-partisan, so as not to offend the taxpayers who would balk at funding schools that are teaching political views they could not support. This fundamental tenet of Caleb Mills held sway until 2011, when the voucher bill gave state funds for students to attend sectarian religious schools which can teach partisan points of view on public issues in line with their religion.

Now Dr. Brown’s plan to establish Education Savings Accounts would have taxpayers pay for totally unregulated home schools or any unregulated private school. The requirements of the voucher program to take state tests and comply with state letter grade requirements would be not be applied to home schools, but they would still get state money with no obligations or accountability.

To pass this extreme proposal would be to say that even though teachers can’t be trusted to teach without having the state require student test scores and extensive criminal background checks to monitor them, home school parents can be trusted with no accountability checkups. It’s a recipe to further demean teachers in Indiana and worsen the teacher shortage.

Education Savings Accounts

The Education Savings Account proposal being pushed by Chairman Brown is a radical proposal. It would:
  • give approximately $6000 on a debit card to any parent who signs a state agreement. This money would go directly to parents and would no longer go to school districts.
  • narrow and weaken the curriculum and remove students from Indiana’s new standards. Parents getting the money only have to agree to provide an education in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.” No music! No art! No physical education! No foreign language! No health! No vocational subjects! Who would think this bill would provide a good education? Yet the current broken high stakes testing program in Indiana’s schools would give incentives to parents to take the money and get their kids away from oppressive tests. Perhaps setting up an overbearing testing program was part of a plan all along to unravel the entire public school system.
  • end accountability for many students. Parents could take their child out of any school and pay “a participating entity”, which may be an individual, a tutoring agency, a distance learning program, or a licensed occupational therapist approved by the Indiana Treasurer. No requirement to take the state test is included unless students are enrolled in a voucher school.
  • expand vouchers to more students. The ESA bill would give public money to families earning up to $97,000 for a family of four. Families earning $97,000 would get a 70% voucher, far more than the 50% voucher now given to families earning $65,000 or less. Family income limits would disappear completely for special education students, giving even high income families taxpayer money for private schools. Currently for special education students, eligibility for taxpayer vouchers is capped at incomes of $85,000 for a family of four. Indiana’s voucher program was passed in 2011 as a program for low income families, but that rationale has now disappeared.
  • pay textbook fees for private schools while public school parents get no help with textbooks. The ESA bill makes textbooks for private programs a taxpayer expense.
  • allow parents to divert money intended for K-12 education to their 529 college fund. Parents who can afford to pay for their current private school have an incentive to enroll in the program, take the money intended for K-12 education and put it in a 529 college account instead.
  • give money to parents directly without strong fraud protection. The ESA bill has a weak section of fraud consequences for a “participating entity”, but no mention is made of parents who neglect their duties or commit fraud with their child’s money.
  • omit criminal background checks for parents taking K-12 money. Background checks are being expanded for public school teachers but this bill would give public money to parents without comparable background checks. Can all parents be trusted without background checks?
The Education Savings Account proposal brings to life Milton Friedman’s plan to end public education and give tax money directly to parents to educate their children. The scheme has gaping holes which must be brought to the attention of Indiana legislators as soon as possible.

One of the holes is the extra fiscal cost to the state when home school students who do not currently get any state payments are included in the state budget. If the estimate of 20,000 home school students is accurate and parents get on average $5000 on a debit card for each student, the program would cost Indiana taxpayers $100 million dollars per year, far more than current costs for pre-school ($10 million), summer school ($18 million) or even for state testing ($45 million). While those who take the incentive to leave the public schools would reduce the $100 million price tag by some amount based on the difference between the current amount per student given to the school district and the somewhat smaller amount given to parents on the debit card, the huge new cost of paying for home school students is clear.

Fortunately, State Superintendent-Elect Jennifer McCormick told the ICPE members meeting in Indianapolis on August 27th that she opposes the Education Savings Account proposal because it would take money from public schools. Based on this, she should be an ally in your efforts to defeat this proposal, even though the main sponsor of this proposal is the Institute for Quality Education which was Jennifer McCormick’s main financial backer in the election. We will soon see where she stands.

Will Public Education Survive in the United States?

Donald Trump’s plan to mandate private school vouchers to students in all 50 states would be the biggest federal intrusion into state education policy in US history. In a September 8th speech in Cleveland, Donald Trump said he would use the power of the Presidency to have all 50 states use public tax money to pay for private and religious school tuition. He said it would cost $20 billion in federal dollars and $110 billion in state dollars.

At this point, 20 states have completely resisted entwining church and state and completely avoided using public dollars for private and religious schools. They have very good reasons to resist. Of the other 30 states, some have very limited programs for special education students.

Under Article 10 of the US Constitution, education matters should be left to the states. Now Donald Trump wants to ignore Article 10 and push a federal mandate for private school vouchers in the name of school choice.

Does America want Donald Trump to dismantle public education in the United States?

I think not.

Donald Trump’s voucher program was nearly ignored during the campaign and certainly the voters did not give him a mandate to end public education based on one overlooked speech.

From its roots in the 1830’s, public education has brought the United States to a position of world power with its system of non-sectarian, non-partisan, publicly funded schools supervised by school boards elected following the rules of democracy and pledged to transparent public access and accountability in their records.

Now Donald Trump wants to spend billions in federal dollars to pay for tuition at sectarian and potentially partisan schools that are not run by elected officials and do not have to offer public access to records. In Betsy DeVos, he has chosen a well known advocate for private school vouchers to lead his side of this coming fight. The battle lines are drawn.

Tell members of Congress that you oppose Donald Trump’s plan and that you strongly oppose public money from any source paying for private and religious school vouchers.

What Can Public Education Advocates Do?

Many areas have meetings with members of the General Assembly and with members of Congress about upcoming legislative sessions. Start talking with elected leaders now about your opposition to Education Savings Accounts and to the federal intrusion of mandated vouchers.

This is a radical set of proposals. Let legislators know how they would damage the heart of our communities—our public schools.

Then join the Indiana Coalition for Public Education to support ICPE lobbyist Joel Hand as he works in support of public education in the Indiana General Assembly and against all proposals that would damage public education such as Education Savings Accounts. ICPE needs your support!

Thank you for your dedicated support of public education!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith


“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!


ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand will represent ICPE in the new budget session which begins January 4, 2017. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!


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.

###

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No Group is Ever Made Stronger by Division

The following guest post is from NEIFPE member Stu Bloom's blog.

No Group is Ever Made Stronger by Division

America's teachers showed up to school on Wednesday morning just like they do every school day. They did their best to help their students make sense of the events of the previous evening.

In many classrooms teachers had to ease the worry of children who feared the backlash against tolerance, acceptance and understanding, and for misogyny, bigotry, and xenophobia. They used the election, as teachers have used elections for decades, as a teaching moment...to explain how our nation's version of democracy works...to focus on the obligations of citizenship...and to highlight the diversity that strengthens, and divides, the nation.

Like many others, history teacher Jim Cullen approached his Wednesday classes thinking about his response.
...necessity requires me to put aside my own unease and confusion as I try to help adolescents process an event that is necessarily unprecedented for them...

My role is to help them feel better as a matter of trying to alleviate despair, anxiety or indignation, but also to feel better in the sense of thinking more clearly, to bring their hearts and their heads into greater alignment...
Bringing hearts and heads into alignment is an often unconscious goal for many teachers. Below is an exchange between a retired teacher friend of mine and a former student (now adult) about the election. In her response, the teacher uses yet another former student's letter about the election. Both students express in their own way, how they have, as they have grown, aligned their hearts and heads. Both students have learned what every teacher hopes to instill in their students: Life is a series of learning experiences.

[Note: I have edited all three letters for brevity and clarity, and to remove identifying information.]
STUDENT ONE

...I have thought a lot about you this election season. Believe it or not, the unit we did on the election between Dukakis and Bush nearly 30 years ago taught me much and I wanted to thank you so very, very much. If not for you, I may have continued basing political views on just abortion. I'll never forget the day that you turned to me and said, "He's not FOR abortion. No one is FOR abortion!" I finally thought to myself, "she's right! Baby murderers wouldn't be wandering around the countryside. What the heck is this really about?" My parents had gone through such a bad spot when my sister had died 2 years before, abortion and euthanasia was all they ever discussed as far as politics during that time in my life. Thanks to you, my eyes were opened. Trade deals, global warming, social security, etc. – I had no idea those things even existed. I have made it my goal in life to learn as much as possible about issues and never accept the easy and emotional answers.

My family eventually healed and after we moved north...I started meeting friends from all over the world and expanding my views...

Today was painful for me, like many Americans. One of my best friends is Syrian and her family is stuck back there. She is terrified that even though she is an ICU doctor at a major university, she is going to be deported. Today I comforted a mother who was terrified that if Obamacare is repealed, her 4-year old son with leukemia will never qualify for insurance again. One of my students asked for permission to leave early so that she could go marry her girlfriend because she is afraid she will lose that right. I'm lucky - I'm an upper, middle class white woman with a doctorate. [The results of this election] will not have much impact to my life. But thanks to the seed that you planted nearly 30 years ago, I can see how devastating this was for others...thanks for teaching me a big part of what has made me who I am!


TEACHER

...Thank you so much for writing.

I tried to keep my own political views to myself when I was teaching, especially the election units. It seemed important to present things and let you students do your own thinking. But it pleases me no end to see that you took what we did and became a person with not just a strong mind but also with a big and good and loving heart.

I am trying not to panic or to prophesy. I have lived through many disappointing elections and this feeling, while deeper this time, is familiar. People talk trash during a campaign and while it sets a tone, their promises aren't easy to keep. I do believe in the power of our Constitution and its checks and balances. I do believe that there are plenty of good people in Congress who will not just sit there and let everything fall apart. He (can't say his name yet) passed the first test with his victory speech. That wasn't at all like the ugly campaign talk. It was rather...Presidential.

My heart goes out to the people you talk about in your last paragraph...the Syrian doctor, parents of sick kids and also kids with disabilities, gay people. I am hoping and praying that these fears stay only that – fears but nothing more.

[Another former student] wrote something yesterday that helped me. Here is what she said...

STUDENT TWO

I have mulled over my thoughts and feelings all day, and while I feel political posts are kind of just white noise at this point, I feel I must say my piece (perhaps if only for a little bit of peace for myself.) No group is ever made stronger by division and there are lessons to be learned in every situation. Yes, I voted for Hillary, this is no big surprise, but I am coming to terms with the Presidential race outcome and starting to open my heart and mind to what can be learned. I think that what we can learn is that we have a long way to go as a country. I think if HRC had won, it would have eased our "liberal minds" to think that change is upon us, but now, the tolerance of intolerance that America feels has light shed fully upon it.

When I think about those who voted for Trump, I have been digging deep to understand how so many people that I know and love, work alongside, and get along with, could look the other way at such a blatant display of negativity towards women, both in action and words, minorities, poor people, the LGBT community, immigrants, and on and on... and it is hard not to take it personally. You have to get to the core of WHY a compassionate, caring person could look the other way and choose someone like Trump as a representative for them, for their country. And the core issue that I have heard time and again is something I can whole-heartedly agree with – change in the political arena...desperate times call for desperate measures. Those that chose to vote for Trump are just so disenchanted with the way politics are run in this country, they were willing to overlook the other issues with him as a candidate.

And I get it, in a big way, I get it...I understand the desire for some change, some big change. And I am going to try to keep an open mind, as HRC and President Obama have encouraged. I am looking for silver linings and I am going to revel in the opportunity to talk about changing what we are tolerant of, to think about what ugliness has surfaced and to have respectful discussions with people about this topic. I am not naive enough to think that there weren't some people who did in fact vote for Trump BECAUSE of his racism and misogyny. And it's time we deal with this elephant in the room, bring it to the surface, because that is the only way we will ever weed it out for good.

...So, while the outcome was not what I wanted, perhaps it was actually what we needed as a country to grow and learn. Don't threaten to move away from the country if the outcome isn't what you wanted...threaten to stay and make a change. For now, I will try to continue to spread love, and compassion, and a thirst to understand my fellow man without judgment. I think we are all a lot closer the middle ground than we think we are and it is time we stop letting the media divide us with fear and finger pointing, and portray all politics as "us vs. them". It is time that we engage in more civil discourse to try to compromise and learn. I love people for their differences as well as their similarities. Life would be boring if we all held the same beliefs, so I want to embrace differences while working towards kindness. Always working towards more kindness...


TEACHER

With former students like you two, didn't I have the best job in the world? You are such a dear. We can do this. Thank you.


###

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #44– November 6, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

---

This election is so close in Indiana that public education advocates could swing the election.

For the sake of the future of public education in Indiana, making a final effort to get friends and family to support the strongest public education candidates such as John Gregg, Glenda Ritz, Evan Bayh and pro-public education legislative candidates such as Coach Phil Webster (Senate District 35) is extremely important.

The full list of letter grades on public education for incumbent legislators was included in the previous #43 edition of “Vic’s Election Notes on Education.” The ICPE letter grades can also be seen at www.icpe2011.com.

I urge you to make a few more calls or email contacts in these final hours. A few votes could make all the difference!
[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.]
John Gregg

I have detailed John Gregg’s support of public education in editions #27, #34, #38 and #42 of “Vic’s Election Notes on Education.” John Gregg said on September 26th at the ISBA Conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center: “When my running mate and I win, that is the moment the war against public education ends.” (Indianapolis Star, 9-27-16, p.6A)

These are game-changing words. John Gregg deserves your active support!

Glenda Ritz

I have detailed Glenda Ritz’s support of public education in editions #35, #36, #37, #41 and #42 of “Vic’s Election Notes on Education.” Glenda Ritz has always been a strong supporter of public education and has refused to accept contributions from the biggest pro-voucher group called Hoosiers for Quality Education.

Follow the money. Jennifer McCormick, running against Glenda Ritz, received $30,000 from HQE last summer and another $60,000 in October, as reported in Secretary of State records, enabling her to fund last minute television ads. There is no question that Hoosiers for Quality Education, the prime advocate for supporting home schools with tax money via a proposal called Education Savings Accounts, would have strong influence if Jennifer McCormick is elected.

Evan Bayh

I have not previously written about the Bayh-Young Senate race. I seldom write about federal elections because the focus of Indiana public education policies is in the Statehouse, a fact which Evan Bayh has helped to maintain by his contributions to federal policy, a story explained below.

I was moved to reflect on the pro-public education record of Evan Bayh after seeing a startling fact in the headlines of the Indianapolis Star last week. Groups outside of Indiana have spent $14 million for pro-Evan Bayh ads and $24 million for pro-Todd Young ads. That’s $38 million in outside money for ads, and not one addressed positions on public education!

So here, at no charge, is your update on the historic Bayh-Young contest in relation to public education.

Todd Young strongly supports private school vouchers. His voting record is clear. That is all that needs to be said.

Evan Bayh has a long history of supporting public education going back to his years as Governor. Private school vouchers were first proposed in the 1995 General Assembly when the House turned Republican, but the proposal did not pass while Bayh was Governor.

Then Senator Bayh had a key role in late December 2000 when President-Elect Bush “invited about twenty members of Congress to meet with him” on the education issue in Austin. (Andrew Rudalevige, 2002). Evan Bayh played a key role in getting George W. Bush to agree to exclude private school vouchers from the education plan that was taking shape which later became No Child Left Behind. This crucial contribution should be recognized and valued as the Donald Trump plan to divert $20 billion in Title 1 money from student reading programs to pay for private school tuition is under debate. We need Evan Bayh in the U.S. Senate to fight any such plan!

On November 5th, the Indianapolis Star ran a front page story about a staff member of Americans for Prosperity going door to door in Carmel to talk voters out of voting for Evan Bayh. Public school advocates should know that Americans for Prosperity is a wealthy group funded by the Koch brothers that opposes public education and strongly promotes private school vouchers. When pro-voucher groups held rallies in the Statehouse in recent years with hundreds of private school students bussed in on a school day, Americans for Prosperity was the financial sponsor and paid for the T-shirts. When Republican Senator Waterman in Senate District 39 voted to support public education and against the 2011 and 2013 voucher bills, Americans for Prosperity generously funded a candidate in the Republican primary who defeated Senator Waterman 51% to 49%.

Americans for Prosperity, with their vast financial resources, is out there working against Evan Bayh in large part because he supports public education. For the sake of public education, I hope you will support Evan Bayh and then speak up for Evan Bayh among your family and friends in these final hours before the November 8th election. Every vote to help public education makes a difference in a tight election!

I urge you to keep working Monday and Tuesday to protect public education at the ballot box!

Thanks for your strong support for public education throughout this election campaign!

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.

###