At 1:30pm today, Rep. Behning posted plans to have hearings at 8:30am tomorrow morning on House Bill 1003 (School Scholarships), the most damaging bill to public education that has been considered since this session of the General Assembly began in January. The hearing tomorrow morning will be held in the House Chamber and will include consideration of four other bills. Every public school advocate is invited to come to the hearing or to contact members of the committee to express opposition to HB 1003.
House Bill 1003 – How will it damage public education?
Let me count the ways:
- It expands the number of students eligible for a voucher who have not attended a public school first, ending the “vouchers save money” rationale and requiring new state expenditures which will benefit private school parents. It allows all special education students, all children of veterans with an honorable discharge, all siblings of current voucher students (the subject of SB 184) and all foster students who are now in private schools to get a voucher. It removes the requirement that students attend a public school for two semesters before getting a voucher and simply says they must have been enrolled in a public school.
- It raises the tax deduction for home school and private school expenditures from $1000 to $3000 per student. The fiscal estimate provided by the Legislative Services Agency says this will cost at least an additional $5.4 million. Public school parents still get no tax deductions for textbook fees, but private school parents do, and this bill will give them even more.
- It establishes the first state expenditure ($5 million) for preschool education in Indiana not in pilot programs in public schools as some have advocated but by investing the state money in tax credit scholarships administered by Preschool Scholarship Granting Organizations, similar to the current tax credit scholarships for K-12 students. Students from families making as much as $85,000 (family of 4) can get vouchers to go to preschools.
- It drops the requirement that students must enroll in a public school for the year preceding enrolling in a private school with a tax credit scholarship from a Scholarship Granting Organization. This requirement established a savings to the state because tax credit scholarships went to students moving from public schools to private schools. Now this savings rationale is gone, and all private school students can get a tax credit scholarship. Families making up to $85,000 are eligible for these scholarships, a higher income level than for vouchers. Any student with a tax credit scholarship is eligible for a voucher in future years. ICPE strongly opposed and helped defeat a bill in the 2012 session to make every 8th grader eligible for a tax credit scholarship. HB 1003 swings this door wide open to all students and through it is a pathway for near every student to get a voucher after one year with a tax credit scholarship.
Contact House Education Committee Members
It is time to act, preferably before tomorrow morning’s hearing. Please contact members of the House Education Committee:
Chairman: Representative Behning
Republican Members: Representatives Rhoads, Arnold, Burton, Clere, DeVon, Huston, Lucas, and Thompson
Democrat Members: Representatives Vernon Smith, Battles, Errington and VanDenburgh
Then contact your own Representative to express your outrage at the damage this bill will do to public schools. This is the most serious attack on public schools since the voucher bill itself in 2011, which ironically was also labeled House Bill 1003. Please join the battle in any way you can. The grassroots must be heard!
Thanks for your efforts on behalf of public education!
ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose privatization of schools in the Statehouse. We are well represented by our lobbyist Joel Hand, but to keep him in place we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education.
Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information.
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.