Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #296 – April 21, 2017

Dear Friends,

There is no joy in Mudville over the funding for public schools in the final budget.

The budget was posted for review in the wee hours this morning and will be voted on tonight.

If you want to see the budget and the school funding formula for yourself, it is posted on the General Assembly website on the House Republican page.

Here are my sad conclusions after a quick read. No doubt given more time there could be more concerns.

If you want to share your opinions with legislators, please feel free, although there is no doubt that the budget will pass tonight, perhaps after midnight.

1) Tax credits for private school scholarships run by Scholarship Granting Organizations hit a bonanza!
  • Current funding in 2016-17 was $9.5 million.
  • Funding for next year 2017-18 has been raised to $12.5 million, up 31%.
  • Funding for every year starting in 2018-19 will be $14 million, a 12% raise about $12.5 million.
  • This adds up to a $7.5 million increase in the two-year budget. This is a large increase to promote private school tuition when most public school categorical funding has been absolutely frozen. Summer School funding, for example, has been stuck on $18.3 million for years. The private school proponents showed their influence once again.
Let’s hope someone starts checking the SGO audits. These are largely unsupervised groups, and they are now getting more public money than Alternative Education ($6M) and the Senator Ford Technology Fund ($3M) combined. Under the law, the SGO can keep 10% for overhead and salaries. Do the math. They must be well paid.
2) The Senate budget’s excellent effort to put a line item in the budget for Choice Scholarships has disappeared from the final budget.

Money for private school vouchers will again be taken from the same Tuition Support budget line item used for all K-12 schools. Transparency in line items has been requested for years and is still not part of the budget.

There is a helpful statement of cost projections for Choice Scholarships on the last page of the School Funding formula. It projects $156 million (a 7.2% increase) for the first year and $167 million (a 6.9% increase) for the second year in funding Choice Scholarships based on an estimate that voucher enrollment would increase 5.8% the first year and would increase 5.5% in the second year.
3) The final budget funded K-12 schools with $345 million new dollars in the two-year budget, a total of $13 million less than the Senate budget. The hope that a $200 million gain in the April revenue forecast would give K-12 an extra boost turned out to be a mirage.
  • The House budget (Feb.) raised K-12 funding by $77 M in the 1st year and by $273 M over two years. (Percentage increases: 1.1% in the 1st year and 1.7% in the 2nd year)
  • The Senate budget (March) raised K-12 by $117 M in the 1st year and by $358 M over two years. (Percentage increases: 1.7% in the 1st year and 1.7% in the 2nd year)
  • The final budget (April 21) raised K-12 by $113 M in the 1st year and by $345 M over two years. (Percentage increases: 1.6% in the 1st year and 1.7% in the 2nd year)
It is extremely disappointing that the Senate budget increase of $358 million was not maintained in the final budget, especially given the new revenue forecast.

There was no time for a full analysis of how school districts fared in the final funding formula, but the Senate budget is an indicator of the stress to school districts that will come with this budget since the final budget is close to the Senate budget. The Senate budget gave 144 districts either a negative percentage increase or less than a 1% increase, which is well below inflation.

These low increases mean hard times ahead for the resources available to many K-12 students in approximately half of the school districts in Indiana.

It is sad that Indiana leaders could not do better for their K-12 students. While the 1.6% and 1.7% increases are better than the 1.0% in FY 2013 and FY 2015, they are well below recent increases given in FY 2014 (2.0%), in FY 2016 (2.3%) and in the current year FY 2017 (2.3%).

Keep talking with your legislators about how you feel they are doing for public schools.

Thank you for your strong 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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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blog Launch: Kind of a Big Dill

NEIFPE co-founder, Phyllis Bush has started her own Blog, Kind of a Big Dill. Her latest post is

Just when you thought you had read enough blogs...
...Today I had a PET scan. We went to the PET Scan office, and what seemed like a scene straight out of a Sci-Fi movie, a tech in a white lab coat came out and said, “Here is your drink, Phyllis.” While it wasn’t nearly as nasty as drinking Miralax laced with Gatorade for other lab preps, it took half an hour to drink. Then I was escorted into another room where I sat in a recliner with my arm hooked up to an IV filled with some radioactive stuff. I asked the tech if I would glow in the dark when I got home, and he assured me that I wouldn’t. However, I plan to test out my theory by going into the basement and turning out the lights just to make sure. After an hour of this, I got into the PET scan machine, which had an opening large enough that my borderline claustrophobia did not kick in. All in all, the whole process took about two and a half hours, and it gave me a lot of time to think...

[...]
Click HERE to read the entire blog post. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email address in the "Follow My Blog by Email" box in the right-hand column of Phyllis's blog page.

✏️✏️✏️

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #295 – April 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

Thanks to all who came to Tuesday’s rally for better K-12 funding!

The letter delivery and contacts with legislators afterward brought excellent conversations such as mine with Senator Ruckelshaus. Joel Hand and Indiana PTA leader Deb Fox were both interviewed on Channel 59 to get the message out that we need to do better for our K-12 students in the budget.


House Bill 1004 - PreKindergarten

This afternoon (Wed., April 19) the Conference Committee Report on the prekindergarten bill (HB 1004) was released. The final bill will be voted on tomorrow.

The final version, while it narrowed the problem, did not break the link between getting a pre-K grant and getting a K-12 voucher. The final version thus creates a new eighth pathway to K-12 vouchers. Those who get a pre-K grant will be eligible for a K-12 voucher in many cases.

This is a provision that has nothing to do with the pre-K experience but will help private and religious schools build their voucher program.

The final version of the 1004 also reverses a ban on using pre-K grants funds to expand capital facilities. This reversal would allow private or public preschools to use the grant funds for facility expansion. This would of course be especially helpful to expand private facilities that serve K-12 voucher students.

If you oppose the K-12 voucher expansion in the pre-K bill, please contact your Senator or any Senator tonight or tomorrow morning to let them know you oppose the final version of HB 1004 and ask them to vote against it.
  • Remind them that the Senate version passed with no language to expand K-12 vouchers and that’s the way it should be. The path to universal vouchers should not go through the pre-K program.
  • Remind them that the pre-K pilot program has been running just fine with no provision to give pre-K students a lifetime K-12 voucher.
  • Remind them if pre-K students go to private schools that want them to stay for K-12 enrollment, they can get a School Scholarship from the vastly expanded tax credit program run by Scholarship Granting Organizations. The new budget is going to give $3 million additional dollars each year (a 31% increase) to the tax credit School Scholarship program, bringing the annual total available to $12.5 million. This should adequately cover any tuition need for pre-K students to enroll in private K-12 schools.
Thank you for any contacts you can make with Senators tonight or tomorrow and for your active 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, April 17, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #294 – April 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

Come to the Statehouse rally for K-12 funding on Tuesday afternoon, April 18th! Come to the rally at 3:30pm in the North Atrium. Carry a message to your legislator that Indiana can do better for our K-12 students!

If you can’t come but are concerned about funding for our K-12 students, send a friend or a family member who can be there Tuesday afternoon. Indiana’s K-12 students need your voices!

  • We need parents who are concerned about sufficient support for their child’s school in the budget and the potential need to close schools. Indiana PTA is co-sponsoring the rally.
  • We need educators and retired educators who are concerned about meager per student increases and the potential for budget cuts and higher class sizes.
  • We need community leaders and business leaders who know that strong public schools are the centerpiece of strong communities and that they need stable funding that at least keeps up with inflation.
Make a statement in support of public education funding in the crucial two-year budget!

There are excellent reasons for doing so:

Reason #1: To support the additional $85 million K-12 dollars in the Senate budget when compared with the House budget! $85 million!

The Senate budget gives a $358 million increase to K-12 over two years, while the House gives $273 million over two years, a difference of $85 million dollars for our K-12 students!

If negotiations between House and Senate split the difference, our K-12 students could lose over $40 million.

Make a statement on Tuesday to your legislators that our K-12 students need all of that $85 million or more!

Indiana is NOT still in the Great Recession and our K-12 students should not be treated as if we are. The 1.1% increase proposed by the House is what K-12 suffered through during the Great Recession!

The new revenue forecast issued April 12th said Indiana may receive an additional $200 million in revenue compared with the previous forecast. Funding our K-12 students should be a high priority for this money.

Special note: By Monday evening, you will find posted on the ICPE website messages customized for every Indiana public school district ready to be delivered and discussed with your legislators. Check out the website: www.icpe2011.com. These messages should help in your efforts to maximize funding for your local K-12 students.


Reason #2: To oppose raising private school tax credit scholarships by 31%!

In the current year of 2016-17, $9.5 million of your tax dollars has been given to pay for tax credits for donations to private school scholarships, called School Scholarships, under a law passed in 2009.

These School Scholarships, which should not be confused with vouchers called Choice Scholarships, are given out to any private school students whose family makes under $89,900, hardly a low income.

They are the secret sauce in getting many students who have always been in private schools on the taxpayer’s tab because a loophole was written into the voucher law saying that if a student has received a School Scholarship during one year, they are eligible for a voucher the next year. That’s how we have ended up with 54% of all vouchers being given to students who have always gone to private schools.

Now both House and Senate budgets call for a raise from $9.5 million to $12.5 million each year in the two-year budget, a 31% raise that gives $6 million more dollars that could be repurposed for public school support.

In addition, the budget enables automatic increases each year above the $12.5 level if the donations reach the total available. Automatic increases for private school scholarships? Public school programs never get automatic increases! This is just wrong!

Make a statement on Tuesday to your legislators that a 31% increase for private school tax credit scholarships and automatic increases are wrong!


Reason #3: To support transparency in the Senate budget showing a line item for private school vouchers for the first time!

The Senate budget for the first time shows a separate line item for private school vouchers. This allows all to see how much the voucher program is projected to cost each year. From the current 2016-17 figure of $146 million, the Senate budget projects $156 million for 2017-18 and $167 million for 2018-19. The open transparency of having a separate line item to debate is an important step forward, and it is strongly opposed by leaders of the House of Representatives.

Make a statement on Tuesday to your legislators that we must have the transparency of a line item for vouchers to enable an informed budget debate.
Everyone is encouraged to come to the Statehouse rally!
When: Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 3:30 pm

Where: Indiana Statehouse North Atrium

Theme: “K-12 Public School Funding: Indiana Can Do Better”

Co-sponsored by: Indiana Coalition for Public Education & Indiana PTA

Rally partners: (known by me to date; more may be coming)
Indiana AFT
Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association
Indiana Urban Schools Association
Stand up for public education! Let legislators know you care about K-12 funding in the two-year budget.

The members of the General Assembly need to hear from you the parents, the taxpayers and the educators of Indiana about supporting better K-12 funding.


Will you join us? Will you bring friends and family?

Download this printable flyer, or click the image below, to share with friends, family and colleagues.Please pass the word!

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.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6mEXsmcLXeCdTNJQmVoWUMzZEU

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #293 – April 11, 2017

Dear Friends,

Attention all who support public education:

You are invited to a rally in support of better funding for K-12 education. We need you!

When: Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 3:30 pm

Where: Indiana Statehouse North Atrium

Sponsored by: Indiana Coalition for Public Education & Indiana PTA

Everyone is encouraged to join us!
Stand up for public education! Let legislators know you care about K-12 funding in the two-year budget.

Raise the Priority in Support of K-12 Funding

We need your presence to raise the priority on better funding for our K-12 students in the new budget.

Here’s the picture: The Governor and the House both recommended unacceptably low increases for K-12 next year, $70 million (1%) by the Governor and $77 million (1.1%) in the House budget passed Feb. 27th. Funding for K-12 seemed to be an afterthought, with no urgency.

These low 1% increases were like the low K-12 budgets during the Great Recession. Indiana is not still in the Great Recession and our K-12 students should not be treated as if we are!

Then the Senate passed a better budget on April 6th: an increase of $117 million (1.7%) for next year and a two-year increase of $358 million. This two-year amount is $85 million more than the House budget!

This $85 million or more must be included in the final budget.

There is no guarantee that the final budget will include this $85 million. The House and Senate have to negotiate their differences. If they split the difference, our K-12 students will lose half of this $85 million for K-12 programs.

We need you on April 18th to help send a message: Our K-12 students need this $85 million or more!

The members of the General Assembly need to hear from you the parents, the taxpayers and the educators of Indiana about supporting better K-12 funding.

Participate in support of the rally theme:

“K-12 Public School Funding: Indiana Can Do Better”

Will you join us? Will you bring friends and family?

The rally will not be as long as the February 20th rally. After key speakers share inspiration and information, all present will be invited to bring messages to their legislators about how the proposed budgets will impact local schools. Sharing these messages is a vital step in getting a fair budget for our K-12 students. In the next few days, ICPE will have messages customized for every Indiana public school district available on the ICPE website to assist in this process. Stay tuned!

Make plans now to join us next Tuesday April 18th to support our K-12 students.

Click here for a printable flyer for you to share with friends, family and colleagues. Please pass the word!

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.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6mEXsmcLXeCQzVISkU4RERod1k

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nobody’s Gonna Break My Stride

by Phyllis Bush

There is a cancer in the body politic. Our lawmakers seem more intent on playing to the voters they choose rather than on serving all of their constituents. We have grown to expect that the Super Majorities will be more concerned with consolidating and maintaining power and control than with with governance. At this point, I see very little chance for a cure of this cancer.

There is also a cancer in the body of Phyllis Bush. On Friday I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Even though what lies before me feels like a kick in the teeth, I have chosen to be annoyed rather than bummed; in fact, this diagnosis has allowed me to give new meaning to the word pissment. I usually share my middle school mean girl thoughts and potty mouth only with my friends; however, when I was in recovery after my surgery and my doctor gave me the word, all I could think to say was the F word.

I know that my doctors will provide me with a course of treatment options, and together we will decide on a course of action that will provide a cure. Unlike politicians, they are in the business of doing no harm.

Having said that, I know that my family and friends will love me, support me, and make me laugh.

There are way too many injustices that I need to rectify.

There are way too many politicians who need my advice and counsel--and my nipping at their heels like a rat terrier.

There are two grandchildren that I need to see grow up.

Along with thoughts and prayers, here are some other things you can do:

1. Prepare yourself with facts and go talk with a legislator. Leave a one page fact sheet with his or her legislative aide, explaining the issue and how it will benefit him or her.

2. Write a letter to someone you love--to your mom or dad, your grandfather or your grandmother, your grandson or your granddaughter asking them how they are and telling them who you are.

3. Never lose your sense of humor or your sense of wonder.

4. Adopt a rescue dog or cat.

5. Take a kid to the zoo and/or to Zesto.

Years ago when I was in the midst of a difficult time, I used to pop a cassette in the car, turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and sing “Nobody’s gonna break my stride; nobody’s gonna slow me down” at the top of my lungs.

...and that is what I intend to do.

In the following days and weeks, as I learn my course of treatment, you are welcome to follow along (if you wish) as I begin this new adventure.

Phyllis Bush, a retired English teacher from Fort Wayne, IN, is a co-founder of NEIFPE. She posted this on her Facebook page.

📚📖✏️📙

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #292 – April 6, 2017

Dear Friends,

In Tuesday’s (Apr. 4th) historic vote that received less media attention than a controversy over cold beer, the Senate voted to reverse its February 20th decisive defeat of the bill to end 166 years of electing our State Superintendent and allow appointment by the Governor.

Five Senators switched from “no” on February 20th to “yes” on April 4th:

Senator Crider
Senator Doriot
Senator Ford
Senator Mishler
Senator Niemeyer
With these five additional yes votes, the Senate tally moved from a 23-26 defeat on Feb. 20th to a 28-20 victory on April 4th.

After 166 years, the rights of voters to guide our democracy at the ballot box have been diminished by the General Assembly and upstaged by cold beer. There was a major article in yesterday’s Indianapolis Star about the cold beer problem, but not one word about the vote on electing the State Superintendent.

It is a sad sign for the power of voters and for our democracy in Indiana.

Changing from a State Superintendent of Public Instruction elected by the voting public to a secretary of education appointed by the Governor is one more step in the deconstruction of public education in Indiana.

The bill has more hurdles before final passage, with at minimum one more vote in the House. If you as a voter are offended by this bill and want to continue to speak up to your legislators on this issue, read “Next Steps” below to see the path ahead.


Three Reasons to Oppose HB 1005

There were three strong reasons for the Senators to oppose House Bill 1005:
1) Respect for and faith in democracy

Democracy is based on the belief that voters should be given the power to guide our government through free elections. If people believe that the wrong person has been elected, the voters can correct the problem at the next election. Taking away the power of voters and giving that power to the executive branch for appointments are steps leading away from democracy. The power of voters is diminished.

In the floor debate on Tuesday, the importance and respect for voters was emphasized by Senator Melton (D), Senator Leising (R), and Senator Randolph (D) as they spoke against the bill.

2) Respect for the rules of the Senate

Minority Leader Senator Lanane raised an objection that considering the bill would break Rule 81E. The rule says that 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.”

Lt. Governor Crouch overruled the objection. Senator Lanane appealed the ruling of the chair. At that point, the chair stepped down for the debate on the appeal and Senator Long assumed the role of chair.

Senator Lanane in speaking on his appeal stated his case that under Senate rules HB 1005 should not have even been considered by the Rules Committee or by the Senate because the bill with the exact language of House Bill 1005 had been defeated with “26 nay votes on that matter.” He said “HB 1005 was the exact language.” He said that rules “should be viewed strictly. Rules mean what they say. It shall not be considered this session.” He said following the rule “lends to our credibility, to our sense of fairness. We don’t do do-overs.”

Before other Democratic Senators whose hands were up were called on to support Senator Lanane’s appeal, Senator Long recognized Senator Hershman who moved the previous question. Senator Long said that a vote on Senator Hershman’s motion would be a vote to end debate on the appeal. Senator Lanane started to ask a question but was cut off by Senator Long who said he didn’t recognize Senator Lanane. The roll call vote was 39-9 to sustain the chair. Thus, the appeal on the meaning of Senate Rule 81E was quickly over.

In the floor debate on the bill itself, Senator Taylor (D) and Senator Randolph (D) emphasized the issue of not following Senate rules.

My conclusion is that the Senate’s actions have made a mockery of Senate Rule 81E. Long after the debate over House Bill 1005 is resolved, Senators will always remember that this episode has gutted any meaning in the Senate rule about “decisively defeated” bills. The overwhelming desire of Senate leaders to take the selection of the State Superintendent out of the hands of voters this year, ending a feature of our democracy that has lasted 166 years, has left a legacy of damage to the respect for Senate rules that will linger for generations.

3) Allowing appointment of a K-12 State Superintendent with no K-12 experience

The word “preferably” in the qualifications section of HB 1005 means that the State Superintendent is not required to have experience in the “administration of public education” and is not required to have a degree in “education or educational administration.” It is optional. Senator Breaux made a strong attempt to make sure it was not optional, but her second reading amendments were voted down.

Read the qualifications for yourself:

“(2) has demonstrated personal and professional leadership success, preferably in the administration of public education;”

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

Then in qualification (4), the words “Executive in the field of education” were clarified by bill sponsor Senator Buck on the floor of the Senate to mean that higher education leaders or other executives such as Mitch Daniels could serve as the K-12 State Superintendent.

It is offensive to those who have dedicated their lives and their careers to K-12 education to hear that they can be supervised at the state level by someone who has no K-12 experience. This shows no respect for the complex history and issues of K-12 education and the detailed knowledge required by anyone who would successfully lead Indiana K-12 education.

Thus, we are left with a serious flaw in the bill to appoint the State Superintendent. Not only does it take power away from citizens who vote, but it also leaves open the door to appoint a person with no K-12 experience and no degrees in education.
Next Steps

The Senate version of HB 1005 differs from the House version, so the sponsor of the House bill, Speaker Bosma, now will decide whether to accept the Senate version or whether to take the bill to a Conference Committee to change the bill to be more like the House version.

If he decides to accept the Senate version, then the House will vote on whether to concur with the Senate version. Voters who don’t want to give up the power to elect the State Superintendent can try to get their representative in the House to vote against the concurrence.

If he decides to take the bill to a Conference Committee to change any of the provisions of the bill, then the changes in the final Conference Committee report have to go back to both the House and the Senate for a final vote of approval. Unhappy voters can then share your feelings and opposition with members of both chambers before the final votes on the Conference Committee report. Stay tuned!

Let your legislators know that you have read the fine print and House Bill 1005 would allow a State Superintendent with no K-12 experience. This is startling and unacceptable.

This is flawed legislation.

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, April 1, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #291 – March 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

Now we know! House Bill 1005 would allow appointing a K-12 State Superintendent with no K-12 experience!

Now we know! Bill sponsor Senator Buck has made House Bill 1005 the “Mitch Daniels Could Be State Superintendent” bill. (See quotes below)

Now we know! The Senate bill does not require that the Governor appoint a K-12 educator to be State Superintendent. Nothing in the new amendment defining qualifications says “K-12”.

Now we know why the Senate leadership was willing to damage the entire Senate’s reputation as a body that stays true to its own rules.

Now we know why the Senate leadership has put its credibility with voters on the line to authorize a second vote on a bill that was decisively defeated, what some have called a violation of Rule 81E, to end 166 years of power for the voters to elect the State Superintendent, the latest downgrade of our democracy in Indiana.

Now we know. The reason for ignoring Senate Rule 81E and pushing the bill through the Senate was to write a formula into law whereby Mitch Daniels or someone like him could be appointed State Superintendent.

In the words of Senator Breaux, it is still a “bad idea”. It allows a person with no K-12 experience to be appointed to lead K-12 education in Indiana.

Yipes! That’s not right.

This bill is flawed! The Senate should vote HB 1005 down – again!

Contact your Senator or all Senators before the final vote this Monday, April 3rd, in the session beginning at 1:30pm. Let them know the new amendment is unacceptable. The State Superintendent must always have K-12 experience. Let them know you oppose taking the power to choose the State Superintendent away from voters and handing that power to the Governor.

Here is What Happened During Second Reading Amendments on House Bill 1005


Updating the path of House Bill 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.”
  • The Senate Rules Committee passed the bill 8-4 on March 27th, saying the amendment made it substantially different language.
  • Debate over amendments on March 30th turned out to show that the new amendment was not substantially different. The Senate version voted down on Feb. 20th allowed the Governor to appoint a person with no experience in K-12. Now the new amendment turns out to allow appointment of a person with no experience in K-12. There is no difference. Here is how this played out on Second Reading:
Senator Breaux’s Amendments

On Thursday (March 30) on the floor of the Senate, Senator Breaux proposed an amendment to strike the line “Executive in the field of education” in the list of four work experiences making a person eligible to be appointed by the Governor, calling it a vague description of eligibility that no one can define. She said the other three listed (“Teacher, Superintendent, Principal”) are sufficient in terms of background for eligibility.

Listen to bill sponsor Senator Buck’s response to the amendment: “I rise in opposition to the amendment. While we are trying to consider the availability to the Governor of somebody that would be the administrator of our department of ed, I hope we realize that someone with the depth of experience of executive leadership and in higher ed such as former Governor Mitch Daniels would be excluded from that category. I think it gives the Governor a great deal of latitude in looking to somebody that has executive experience in the field of education.”

Sen. Breaux responded:

“OK that brings a little bit more clarification to me. We’re making it possible for folks like Gov. Daniels to return as secretary of education. I still think that’s a bad idea and ask for your support of my amendment.“

The amendment failed on a voice vote.

Earlier, Senator Breaux had proposed an amendment to delete the word “preferably” from the two following descriptors of who the Governor can appoint:
“(2) has demonstrated personal and professional leadership success, preferably in the administration of public education;”

“(3) possesses an earned advanced degree , preferably in education or educational administration, awarded from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university; and”
The word “preferably” means that the State Superintendent is not required to have experience in the “administration of public education” and is not required to have a degree in “education or educational administration.” It is optional. Senator Breaux made a strong attempt to make sure it was not optional, but her amendment was voted down 9-40.

The Fatal Flaw of the New Senate Amendment: It Doesn’t Require K-12 Experience or Degrees

We are left with a fatal flaw in the bill to appoint the State Superintendent. Not only does it take power away from citizens who vote, but it also leaves open the door to appoint a person with no K-12 experience and no degrees in education.

Tell your Senator you have read the fine print and House Bill 1005 would allow a State Superintendent with no K-12 experience. This must not stand!

This is flawed legislation and deserves to be defeated a second time when the Senate votes on Monday.

Contact Senators This Weekend Before Monday’s Vote

If all 26 Senators who opposed the bill the first time maintain their no vote, the power of voters will not be diminished. They need to hear from voters loudly and clearly.

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” and to stop a bill that clearly allows for appointment of a State Superintendent with no K-12 experience and no degrees in education, 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.

  • Tell them how you feel about losing the power to elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Tell them how you feel about the wording of the new amendment which would allow a State Superintendent with no K-12 experience.
  • Tell them how you feel about Senate Rule 81E and the Senators’ decision to pass a previously “decisively defeated” bill when the new bill is equally as wide open as the first bill on qualifications. Tell them Senators should follow their own rules.
Will Indiana voters defend their powers? It’s up in the air.

The Senators need to hear from voters like you!

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 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.

###

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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