Thursday, March 30, 2017

Letters: Demand public education support – and read to kids

NEIFPE member Susan Berry sent this letter to the editor. In it she supports a Journal-Gazette editorial in support of public education.

Demand public education support – and read to kids

Published: March 30, 2017

Karen Francisco’s well-researched editorial “An Educated Mess” on March 12 reminded us – once again – that private schools accepting voucher money from the state are not accountable to the government that will give them $146 million this school year – a total of close to a half billion dollars since 2011. Even more alarming is that students attending these “voucher schools” are scoring lower on reading, language and math tests than students in public schools.

Is there a fair way to help all children be successful in school? Research consistently tells us that test scores correlate with ZIP codes, meaning children in poverty don’t score as well as their richer classmates, no matter the school. Can we fix this poverty issue? We can begin by electing legislators truly committed to helping all families. For now, we can contact those who represent us and tell them firmly about our concerns. Legislators control the dollars and have the power to help those most in need.

We can also set up and reinforce programs that educate parents about how to help their children with school readiness. Reading daily to a child helps close that readiness and (eventually) achievement gap. Unfortunately, low-income parents are less likely to have heard this message. Jennifer Bryan, from “Read Aloud 15 Minutes,” states that “Reading to every child every day from birth won’t solve every health and education problem we face, but it will help level the brain development playing field.”

Reading to our babies, our preschoolers, and even our older kids is the place to start. We can break the poverty cycle by reading to our children. The bonus – besides having kids who love to read – is higher test scores and guaranteed success in any school.

Susan Berry

Fort Wayne

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #290 – March 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

Efforts in the General Assembly to give more and more public money for private school vouchers are relentless.

House Bill 1384, to be voted on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) at 1:30pm in the Senate Education Committee, would allow new private schools to get vouchers the first year without waiting a year to get accreditation as they do now.

In addition, it would give voucher schools making D’s and F’s two years in a row an appeal procedure to allow them to avoid current accountability rules and keep receiving new voucher students, a loophole that could help as many as nine low-rated voucher schools.

Ask Senators on the Senate Education Committee to oppose House Bill 1384 giving more public money for the fast-track expansion of voucher schools and for low-rated voucher schools.

The members of the Senate Education Committee to contact before Wednesday at 1:30 are:

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

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops
Privatization of Schools: From Stable Centers of Community Life to the “Wild, Wild West”

One great attribute of public schools that Indiana has experienced for over 160 years is their stability and their function as community centers that bring together people of all walks of life. Voucher advocates are trying to change that climate by marketing new private schools hyped with attractive advertising.

House Bill 1384 would allow new private schools to get vouchers in the first year of their existence. Under current law, private schools have to go through their first year in order to establish performance data for use in receiving accreditation, a prerequisite for receiving voucher dollars. HB 1384 would fast-track the process to allow new private schools accreditation and voucher money in the first year of operation.

Joel Hand, our lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, testified against the bill and was quoted on the front page of the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017): “One of our fears is by opening up our voucher program to schools that have not been in our state before, have not previously been accredited here, is we could be opening it up to the wild, wild west. We already have an issue with a number of private schools that accept vouchers that aren’t performing well. Now we’re talking about potentially bringing in schools from out of state that have no record here in Indiana giving them a free reign to vouchers right from the get go.”

Well said, Joel!

Lowering the Standards for D and F Voucher Schools

House Bill 1384 also allows voucher schools making D’s and F’s a pathway to more voucher money. Currently, if a voucher school receives a D or F for two years, they can’t enroll new voucher students although they can receive voucher money for current voucher students. This point of strong accountability was used to sell the voucher program to the General Assembly in the historic voucher debate in 2011. HB 1384 makes a waiver appeal available through the State Board of Education to get around the two-year rule.

Public school advocate Sally Sloan of the American Federation of Teachers – Indiana testified against this concept and was also quoted in the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017, page 8A) saying that the state has gone back on its word to ensure voucher schools provide top-tier education: “When vouchers first came into being, we were told it’s important that these private schools get the opportunity because they’re going to provide so much better education.”

Well said, Sally!

Contact the Senate Education Committee by Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 1:30pm

Contact the members of the Senate Education Committee listed above to let them know you have seen enough efforts to expand unaccountable voucher schools while public schools get little attention from the General Assembly.

Ask them to defeat House Bill 1384 and then give more support to public schools.

Thank you for your support of public education in Indiana!


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.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #289 – March 27, 2017

Dear Friends,

This morning, the Senate Rules Committee decided that even though the bill to appoint the State Superintendent was “decisively defeated” on February 20th, they could revive it this session by amending it. The amended bill passed the committee 8-4 on a party line vote.

Check out the confusing new amendment, which is quoted below.

Ask your Senator and all Senators to stop diminishing the voter’s role in our democracy by maintaining the powers of Hoosier voters to elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.


House Bill 1005: The Governor Wants to Appoint the State Superintendent

Let’s review the story of HB 1005:
  • After 166 years, Speaker Bosma and the Governor really want to end the power of the voters to elect the State Superintendent.
  • The Senate voted down the bill to do so 23-26 on February 20th.
  • Senate Rule 81E (as quoted in the IndyStar) says when a bill is defeated “that exact language or substantially similar language shall be considered decisively defeated and shall not be considered again during the session.”
  • All four Democrats on the Rules Committee today made comments objecting to the way Senate Rule 81E is being skirted.
  • Senator Lanane made an impassioned statement that the changes being offered to get around Senate Rule 81E were just “window dressing.” “The heart of the bill” he said is to appoint the State Superintendent. He said this action is “diminishing the rule!” He said “This should not have been considered.”
  • Senator Randolph said this move to get around the Senate rule would hurt the “Senate’s credibility in the public eye.”
  • Chairman Long ruled against all objections and called on Speaker Bosma to present the bill and on Senator Hershman to present the amendment to HB 1005 which would allow compliance with Rule 81E.
  • The amendment changes the starting date to 2025, rather than 2021.
  • Secondly, the amendment reinstates the residency requirement: “has resided in Indiana for at least two (2) years before the appointment.”
  • Thirdly, the amendment sets qualifications. This needs to be quoted in its entirety for you to see the confusion that is possible when you take the power out of the voter’s hands:
“(2) has demonstrated personal and professional leadership success, preferably in the administration of public education;” (Editorial note: “preferably”???)

“(3) possesses an earned advanced degree, preferably in education or educational administration, awarded from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university; and” (Editorial note: “preferably” again???)

“(4) either:
(A) at the time of taking office is licensed or otherwise employed as a teacher, principal, or superintendent;

(B) has held a license as a teacher, superintendent, or principal, or any combination of these licenses, for at least five (5) years at any time before taking office; or

(C) has a total of at least five (5) years of work experience as any of the following, or any combination of the following, before taking office:
(i) Teacher.
(ii) Superintendent.
(iii) Principal.
(iv) Executive in the field of education.
I had to quote the exact language of the amended bill for you to understand my question: Is this confusing list what we have come to after 166 years of letting the voters sort it all out in the process of our democracy?

Can’t we instead trust the voters to select a qualified State Superintendent? Isn’t that what our democracy is all about?

Concerns about the New Amendment

This amendment is not ready for prime time!

The word “preferably” has no meaning under the law. It can obviously be ignored. It is surprising that such a word is used in the bill. Using “preferably” means that it is not necessary to appoint an educator to be State Superintendent. Similarly it is not necessary to appoint someone with a degree in education or educational administration.

My impression is that the amendment was written so that an MBA from the business world could fill the position after being employed as a superintendent. Superintendents are no longer required to have a superintendent’s license in Indiana.

Another concern is whether it was written for a higher education official to be appointed. No reference to K-12 experience or degrees is included in the amendment.

Let your Senators know how you feel about the new amendment. Let them know how you feel about taking the power to select the State Superintendent away from voters and giving it to the Governor.

If all 26 Senators maintain their no vote, the power of voters will not be diminished. They need to hear from voters loudly and clearly on this issue, and soon. The leadership is likely to seek action on the floor of the Senate this week.

Once again, the 26 Senators who voted no on February 20th are as follows:

Senator Becker Senator Glick Senator Leising Senator Stoops
Senator Bohacek Senator Grooms Senator Melton Senator Tallian
Senator Breaux Senator Head Senator Mishler Senator Taylor
Senator Crane Senator Kenley Senator Mrvan Senator Tomes
Senator Crider Senator Koch Senator Niemeyer Senator Young
Senator Doriot Senator Kruse Senator Niezgodski
Senator Ford Senator Lanane Senator Randolph

The 23 Senators who voted yes on February 20th but now should be asked to take a principled stand on Senate Rule 81E to call this bill “decisively defeated” are as follows:

Senator Alting Senator Charbonneau Senator Houchin Senator Ruckelshaus
Senator Bassler Senator Delph Senator Long Senator Sandlin
Senator Boots Senator Eckerty Senator Merritt Senator Smith
Senator Bray Senator Freeman Senator Messmer Senator Walker
Senator Brown Senator Hershman Senator Perfect Senator Zay
Senator Buck Senator Holdman Senator Raatz

One Senator who was excused and did not vote on the bill was Senator Zakas, who should also be contacted on these points.

Contact Senators to Keep the Power in the Hands of Voters

If you want to maintain your power as a voter in our democracy, it’s time to go to work. Contact any and all Senators to:
  • Tell them how you feel about keeping or losing the power to elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Tell them how you feel about the wording of the new amendment cited above. 
  • Tell them how you feel about Senate Rule 81E and the Senators’ rationale to pass a “decisively defeated” bill.
Will Indiana voters defend their powers? It’s up in the air. Voters are about to lose a big one if they are not heard loudly and clearly in the next few days.

I was one of four speakers who spoke against the bill this morning, while three spoke for the bill. The Senators need to hear from the voters.


In this era of activism, the voters of Indiana who don’t want to lose their powers in our democracy need to go to work!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

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.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #288 – March 25, 2017

Dear Friends,

Attention all Indiana voters: Your powers to elect a State Superintendent of Public Instruction are in jeopardy. Voters can defend the powers they have had for 166 years at a hearing this Monday, March 27 at 10am in the Senate Chamber.

Come to speak if you can or send messages to your Senators opposing House Bill 1005.

Is our democracy in Indiana fading? How much do voters want to keep their powers?

The leaders of the Senate have decided that when 26 Senators voted no on Senate Bill 179, nearly identical to House Bill 1005, it was not “decisively defeated.” They want to bring it back to life.

The Senate has a rule regarding a defeated bill that says “that exact language or substantially similar language shall be considered decisively defeated and shall not be considered again during the session.”

The Senate is apparently ready to interpret that rule to help the Governor and allow another vote on a similar bill with a few changes.

The Rules Committee will consider the bill and amendments to the bill at 10am on Monday, March 27th in the Senate Chamber.

Will Indiana voters defend their powers?


Possible Amendments

House Bill 1005 passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate after Senate leaders decided how to negate their own rule on “decisively defeated” bills. House Bill 1005 ends the use of the name “State Superintendent of Public Education” and would have the Governor appoint a “secretary of education.” House Bill 1005 also removes the two-year Indiana residency requirement and requires no experience or licensing in education, stating only that the appointee would serve at the pleasure of the Governor for a salary determined by the Governor.

No amendments to HB 1005 have been posted, but speculation about changes includes three topics:
1) The effective date could be changed from 2021 to 2025, allowing for another four year term of office for the current State Superintendent.

2) The two-year Indiana residency requirement could be reinstated.

3) A requirement of Indiana experience and licensing as a teacher or administrator could be added.
Power Leaves the People and Goes to the Governor

None of these possible amendments would change the basic question: Do Hoosier voters agree that they should give up the power to select the Indiana state school superintendent, a power they have had for 166 years, and to hand that power over to the Governor?

I say no. I say that voters should elect an independent voice to be the executive of the education system in Indiana, just as the framers of our Constitution intended.

No doubt the Governor would love to have the power to select the State Superintendent, but that would remove the power of voters to name an independent leader who knows Indiana education. Keeping this power in the hands of the people is what democracy is all about. We should maintain this power that voters have had for 166 years.

Are we about to diminish our democracy after 166 years? Are we about to diminish public education in Indiana by removing the public from the selection of the State Superintendent?

Is this just one more step in the death spiral of public education in Indiana envisioned by Milton Friedman and his followers?

Contact Senators to Keep the Power in the Hands of Voters

Individual voters need to step up to the plate if they want to keep their powers at the ballot box. Voters are about to lose a big one if they are not heard loudly and clearly in the next few days.

Besides emails and messages to Senators, I hope some voters will show up to testify that our democracy should not be diminished and voters should not lose their powers to the Governor.

The first Senators to contact are on the Rules Committee which will vote on House Bill 1005 Monday morning, March 27th in the 10 am meeting. The members of the Rules Committee to be contacted are:

Republican Senators Long, Holdman, Bray, Charbonneau, Eckerty, Hershman, Kruse and Merritt

Democratic Senators Lanane, Breaux, Randolph and Tallian


Then contact your own Senator or any Senator about this bill. They will all vote again on this proposal as they did on February 20th when 26 Senators voted no. You can thank all 26 in the list below and ask them to maintain their opposition:

Senator Becker Senator Glick Senator Leising Senator Stoops
Senator Bohacek Senator Grooms Senator Melton Senator Tallian
Senator Breaux Senator Head Senator Mishler Senator Taylor
Senator Crane Senator Kenley Senator Mrvan Senator Tomes
Senator Crider Senator Koch Senator Niemeyer Senator Young
Senator Doriot Senator Kruse Senator Niezgodski
Senator Ford Senator Lanane Senator Randolph

In this era of activism and resistance, the voters of Indiana who don’t want to lose their powers in our democracy need to go to work right away to oppose House Bill 1005!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

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.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #287 – March 23, 2017

Dear Friends,

In all the high profile news on other topics, funding for K-12 is being overlooked!

In the House budget, funding for our K-12 students for next year was given a low priority, abnormally low.

Only an outcry from public school parents, educators and community members can fix this.

Here’s the problem: K-12 tuition support, the largest single item in the education budget, was given a meager 1.1% increase by the House.

That’s low. A 1.1% increase is what they gave to K-12 during the Great Recession!

Are they trying to say our public school students are still in the Great Recession?

The Senate needs to do better for our 1 million plus K-12 students. The Senate is now reviewing the House proposals and writing their own version of the budget.

If the House budget becomes the final budget, programs for public school students across the state would be in jeopardy.


Compare the House Budget: 1.1% increase in 2017-18 and 1.7% increase in 2018-19

When the school funding formulas are passed every two years, legislators see the bottom line percentage increases for “Total Funding” on a summary page. I have personally observed and collected figures that have appeared on these summary pages for the past twenty years.

Look at how 1.1% compares with the increases in the last ten budgets (since the state took over paying for the K-12 General Fund without property taxes):
Year.................Total K-12 Funding Increase

2007-08...............4.1%

2008-09...............3.6%

2009-10...............1.1%.....(Great Recession)

2010-11...............0.3%.....(Great Recession)

2011-12...............-4.5%.....(Great Recession)

2012-13...............1.0%.....(Great Recession)

2013-14...............2.0%

2014-15...............1.0%

2015-16...............2.3%

2016-17...............2.3%
You have to ask: Why are K-12 schools being funded this year like we’re back in the Great Recession? Is it because the General Assembly has given a priority this year to funding roads? It is not right to lower the funding for our students just because we need better roads.

Speak Up for Better K-12 Funding!

As the Senate works on a budget that corrects this picture, it is time to speak up!

Ask the Senators to do better for our public school students! It is imperative that they do.

Much depends on the revenue forecast that comes out in April. However, legislators need to hear now from parents, from educators and from community members about the damaging House budget.

In the House debate, opponents of the House budget for K-12 pointed out that 201 of the 292 public school corporations will either lose money in 2017-18 or will receive less than 1%.

Indiana can do better than this.

Contact Senators About Doing Better than 1.1% for our K-12 Students!

The Senate Subcommittee on School Funding is preparing the education budget for the Senate. They are the point persons to contact for you to say: Our students deserve better than 1.1%!

Of course, let your own Senator know how you feel as well as the subcommittee members.

Senators on the Subcommittee are:
Republican Senators Mishler, Bassler, Charbonneau and Eckerty

Democratic Senators Tallian and Greg Taylor
I urge you to send these Senators messages in support of better funding for our K-12 students!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

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.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #286 – March 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

Your advocacy to separate pre-kindergarten expansion from K-12 voucher expansion paid dividends today!

The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed Amendment 20 to House Bill 1004, an amendment that restores the bill to read like Senate Bill 276 with only a few changes. Senate Bill 276 was the Senate’s version of expanding pre-kindergarten which did not link pre-K grants to K-12 vouchers in any way.

Then the committee passed the amended bill by a vote of 8-1, with Senator Crane the lone no vote. HB 1004 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senators in the committee today by a vote of 9-0 endorsed the concept that pre-kindergarten expansion should go forward without being entwined with a major expansion of K-12 voucher eligibility.

It is time to thank the Senators on the Education Committee for their vote today to separate pre-K and K-12 vouchers. The members are:

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

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops

The Process is Just Beginning: Stay in Touch with Senators and House Members

While the vote today was encouraging, the debate about linking pre-K and K-12 vouchers is far from over. When Senate Bill 276 gets to the House Education Committee, it is quite possible that the tables will be turned and that the language of House Bill 1004 will be inserted into SB 276.

If both bills pass their respective houses with opposite positions on expanding K-12 vouchers, then both bills will go to conference committees in the last two week of April. Stay alert!

Keep writing Senators to maintain their position that pre-K should not be a road to K-12 voucher expansion.

Then write members of the House asking them to take the Senate’s position to debate pre-kindergarten on its own merits with no link to K-12 voucher eligibility.

Your enthusiasm to support public education in this debate is making a difference. Keep up the good work!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


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.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #285 – March 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

On Monday March 13th, Senator Mishler who chairs the Senate School Funding Subcommittee has invited testimony on three topics: 1) K-12 School Funding, 2) Teacher Performance Grants and 3) English Language Learner (ELL) Issues. The testimony will be heard by the subcommittee “Upon Adjournment of the Senate” in the Senate Chamber Monday afternoon.

Senators on the Subcommittee are:
Republican Senators Mishler, Bassler, Charbonneau and Eckerty

Democratic Senators Tallian and Greg Taylor
I urge you to include two points as you share your budget testimony, your emails or your phone calls with these six budget leaders this week:
1) The House budget for K-12 funding next year is absolutely grim. Pushback is in order. The House has taken our K-12 students back to Great Recession funding: only 1.1% for 2017-18. This will damage student programs. The Senate must do better than 1.1%.

2) In the midst of this damaging budget for many school districts, the House budget would increase funding for private school tax credits by $6 million, up 31% over current funding. This is outrageous when public schools are being told that there is only 1.1% for tuition support. The Senate should shift this $6 million for private school scholarship tax credits to shore up the meager budget for K-12 tuition support.

Only 1.1% for 2017-2018

A 1.1% increase matches the 2009-10 budget written in January 2009 in the deepest part of the Great Recession. Also in the Great Recession, the 2012-13 increase for K-12 was only 1.0%.

Now the House has told our K-12 students that 2017-18 gets 1.1% again, no better than the Great Recession.

In the House debate, both Representatives Greg Porter and Vernon Smith pointed out that under the House budget, 201 of the 292 public school corporations will either lose money in 2017-18 or will receive less than 1%.
  • Tell the Senators that our K-12 students should not be given a low priority in the budget just because Indiana’s roads are bad.
  • Tell the Senators that the House added only $77 (1.1%) million in new funding for K-12 tuition support when the budget for the current year (2016-17) written in 2015 added $160 million (2.3%). This cut is unbelievable given all the rosy economic stories we heard during the campaign.
  • Tell the Senators over one million K-12 students are counting on them to do better than the House did.
Stop Increasing Funding for Private School Scholarship Tax Credits

School Scholarships are given out to private school students for private school tuition by Scholarship Granting Organizations who get their money by taking donations and then authorizing donors to take 50% of the donation as a credit off of their Indiana income tax.

In 2009-10, the first budget for the program was $2.5 million. Private school advocates have pushed the budget to $9.5 million in 2016-17. Now the new House budget would increase the budget to $12.5 million in both years, a 31% increase!

Their priorities here must be questioned: In the same House budget, crucial funding for textbooks for low income students, for summer school and for technology were all frozen with no increase!
  • Tell the Senators they should stop expanding private school support with public tax dollars.
  • Tell the Senators they can put $6 million back into the K-12 budget by freezing the School Scholarship Tax Credits for private school tuition.
  • Better yet, the Senators can put $25 million back into the K-12 budget by canceling the School Scholarship tax credit program altogether, a program that duplicates what private school vouchers do already, that is, giving scholarships to attend private schools.
I urge you to contact your Senator and the Senators on the Senate Subcommittee on School Funding listed above with these two points.

Let them know how you feel about a meager 1.1% increase for K-12 next year and about a 31% increase for private school tax credit scholarships. The Senate can do better than the House on these points.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


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.

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