Saturday, March 25, 2017

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Indiana voters defend their powers?


Possible Amendments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Senators to Keep the Power in the Hands of Voters

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

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

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

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

Democratic Senators Lanane, Breaux, Randolph and Tallian


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

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

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

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, March 24, 2017

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speak Up for Better K-12 Funding!

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

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

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

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

Indiana can do better than this.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Only 1.1% for 2017-2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #284 – March 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

House Bill 1004, the pre-kindergarten expansion bill, would create yet another pathway for students to receive a K-12 private school voucher. HB 1004 would be the biggest expansion of K-12 vouchers since 2013.

The hearing on HB 1004 was held last Wednesday March 8th, and the committee vote on the bill will be on Wednesday March 15th. Please contact members of the Senate Education Committee before March 15th to say you oppose HB 1004 unless the expansion K-12 vouchers is removed from the bill.

The members of the Senate Education Committee to contact are:

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

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops
From Seven Pathways to Eight: Yet Another Pathway for K-12 Vouchers Would Be Created by HB 1004

Indiana currently has seven pathways to K-12 vouchers, and HB 1004 would create number eight.

Under this bill and this new pathway, any student who gets a pre-K grant “at any time” will get a K-12 voucher as long as their family income meets a generous cap: $89,900 for a family of four.

This is a higher income cap than for any other pathway except for that of disabled students. Most pathways are capped at $67,400 for a family of four (150% of reduced lunch income).

Here are the other seven pathways and the number of vouchers they created in 2016-17, numbers found in the latest (Feb., 2017) report on vouchers recently released by the Indiana Department of Education:

Continuing Choice 25,020
Previous Choice 610
Previous SGO 2,330
Two-Semesters 2,828
Special Education 1,140
F School 178
Sibling 2,193

Total 34,299

The report says that the voucher total (34,299) has gone up by only 1600 since the previous year (32,686). This is the smallest increase in the voucher program’s 6-year history (since 2011). Yet the reported cost of the program went up by about $12 million, jumping from $134 million up to $146 million. Despite the added costs to taxpayers, the number of private school students in Indiana actually went down by 316 students this year (2016-17) compared to last year (2015-16).

One would think that if taxpayers paid an additional $12 million this year for vouchers that the total enrollment in private schools would go up, but it did not go up. Enrollment dropped by over 300 students.

How could this be? How could private school voucher numbers and costs go up when fewer students are attending private schools?

The answer is that more students who have always gone to private schools are finding ways in the rules to get a voucher. The new report provides data showing that 54.6% of all voucher students have never before attended a public school, up from 52.4% last year (2015-16).
It is not about making a new choice. It is about getting taxpayers to subsidize the private school tuition for a choice already made.

This is how our public education system in Indiana, a heritage of 180 years of work by those who came before us, is being privatized.

Now HB 1004 is trying to expand K-12 vouchers once again in a new way. Rep. Behning’s bill would add “Pre-K Grant” as the eighth pathway that students could use to claim a voucher without ever trying a public school. Governor Daniels when he established our voucher system said it should be set up to “try public schools first”, but Governor Pence threw his predecessor’s advice under the bus in 2013.

The eighth pathway would be an expensive addition to the pathways, perhaps as much as $10 million for new vouchers in the first year alone, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

Ask the Senators to save taxpayer money by deleting the K-12 voucher expansion in HB 1004.

The Committee Hearing on HB 1004 – March 8, 2017

Last Wednesday, of 25 speakers who testified on HB 1004 during the two and a half hour hearing:
  • 11 focused solely on the importance of expanding pre-K
  • 10 spoke against linking pre-K grants with an expansion of K-12 vouchers
  • 4 spoke in favor of linking pre-K grants with K-12 vouchers.
As you see, the position that we should break the link between pre-K grants and guaranteed K-12 vouchers was well represented. There was great testimony given by parents from the community on this point.

The testimony made it clear how the Senators could refocus the bill solely to expand pre-kindergarten programs:
  • amend HB 1004 to delete Sections 21 and 22 that guarantee voucher eligibility for any student who ever received a pre-K grant “at any time” up to an income of $89,900 for a family of four. These sections are only about K-12 voucher eligibility and are not needed to expand pre-K.
  • amend HB 1004 to undelete Section 18, language in current law that says: “The receipt of a grant under the pilot program does not qualify, nor have an effect on the qualification or eligibility, of a child for a Choice Scholarship.” Senator Kenley put this language in his 2014 bill that got pre-K started in Indiana. Senator Kenley is a member of this Senate Education Committee. His language should be preserved to focus HB 1004 on pre-K expansion rather than turning it into an argument about the privatization of our public schools.
Tell the Senators that with these changes, HB 1004 would become a good bill to expand pre-K. Without these changes, HB 1004 should be defeated and pre-K expansion should be handled through Senate Bill 276 which the Senate has already passed and carries no link between expanding pre-K and expanding K-12 vouchers.

I urge you to contact your Senator and the Senators on the Senate Education Committee listed above this weekend or at least before the committee votes on Wednesday March 15th at 1:30pm.

We must not entwine a highly controversial expansion of the K-12 private school voucher program with the much needed pre-K program.

We must not make this important step for pre-school part of the march to privatize public education in Indiana.
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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Monday, March 6, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #283 – March 6, 2017

Dear Friends,

A major expansion of K-12 vouchers is included in the pre-kindergarten expansion bill, House Bill 1004.

The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1004 in their next meeting on Wednesday, March 8 at 1:30pm in the Senate Chamber.

If you can’t come to testify against the bill, I urge you to contact members of the committee before the Wednesday afternoon meeting to ask them to:

  • break the link between pre-K grants and K-12 vouchers, just as the Senators did in their own pre-K bill, Senate Bill 276.
  • amend HB 1004 to delete Sections 21 and 22 that guarantee lifetime voucher eligibility for any student who ever received a pre-K grant “at any time”. These sections are not needed to expand pre-K.
  • amend HB 1004 to undelete Section 18, language in current law that says: “The receipt of a grant under the pilot program does not qualify, nor have an effect on the qualification or eligibility, of a child for a Choice Scholarship.” Senator Kenley put this language in his 2014 bill that got pre-K started in Indiana. There is no reason this language should be repealed to plunge the debate into an argument about the privatization of our public schools.
The members of the Senate Education Committee to contact are:

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

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops
We must not entwine a highly controversial expansion of the K-12 private school voucher program with the much needed pre-K program.

Expanding K-12 Vouchers is Nearly as Expensive to Taxpayers as the Pre-K Expansion

House Bill 1004 makes every student that gets a pre-kindergarten grant eligible for a K-12 voucher for the rest of their 13 years of K-12 schooling. Some 2300 pre-K students would become eligible now based on the pre-K grants they have already received.

Eventually as the pre-K program grows to nearly universal levels, the expense of a K-12 voucher for nearly all students would fall on taxpayers as well.

The latest Legislative Services Agency fiscal note (Feb. 7) lists scenarios where pre-K students use a voucher to go on to kindergarten when they would “not attend public school otherwise” as costing the state between $5.9 million and $10.5 million, depending on whether family income would give them a 50% voucher or a 90% voucher. If all pre-K students “would have attended public school otherwise” but took a voucher instead, LSA says the state could save up to $4 million.

If the projected cost to taxpayers of $10 million turns out to be accurate, that means that the cost in HB 1004 for expanding K-12 vouchers is as high as the additional $10 million for pre-K expansion in the House budget.

Adding a K-12 voucher component to the pre-K bill doesn’t make sense in the budget.

I opposed HB 1004 in the House hearing because of this expensive and inappropriate link between pre-K and K-12 vouchers. This link does not currently exist in the pre-K pilot program, and it should not start now.

Continuity Is Not Mentioned in the Bill Language

Representative Behning, the bill sponsor, claimed that the reason for giving lifetime voucher eligibility to all students receiving pre-K grants is to allow continuity from private and religious pre-school programs to the private and religious kindergarten programs in the same school.

His language in the bill, however, says nothing about continuity. It says a voucher will go to any student who has received a pre-K grant “at any time” if they meet the family income guideline ($89,900). Thus, students attending public pre-K programs would also be eligible for a taxpayer-funded voucher. This provision, as cited above, could cost millions.

That is far more than a continuity rule. That is a pipeline to universal K-12 vouchers.

This bill would lock in eligibility for every child who receives a pre-school grant either from state funds or from private matching grant funds to receive a private school voucher for the next 13 years through high school.

Expanding to Higher Income Families

House Bill 1004 not only provides a lifetime private school voucher to every student receiving a pre-school grant, but it provides the voucher to wealthier families. HB 1004 expands eligibility for a school voucher to a family of four making $89,900, far more generous than the $67,432 income limit applied to most current applicants for a K-12 voucher. Only disabled students are currently allowed a voucher with the expanded $89,900 income cap.

All this makes HB 1004 the biggest K-12 voucher expansion since the 2013 session!

We must not make this important step for pre-school part of the march to privatize public education in Indiana.


I urge you to contact members of the Senate Education Committee before Wednesday (March 8) at 1:30pm to ask them to amend House Bill 1004 to delete Sections 21 and 22 and to restore Section 18 which is our current law quoted above separating pre-K grants and K-12 vouchers.

Ask them to amend House Bill 1004 to read like the Senate’s bill (SB 276) in expanding preschool without expanding K-12 private school vouchers.

We need to expand pre-K programs but it should not be done with a major increase in the K-12 voucher program.

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 2, 2017

Vouchers, ISTEP & Other Rabbit Holes

Vouchers, ISTEP and Other Rabbit Holes
By NEIFPE co-founder, Phyllis Bush

NEIFPE members recently created a spread sheet which details how much vouchers have cost Indiana taxpayers since their inception during the Daniels/Bennett years. Even though I assumed that a great deal of money was involved, I am still trying to wrap my head around the $330,548,810.86 that has been spent on vouchers since 2011.

Even though vouchers in Indiana are a done deal, nonetheless, vouchers are a dubious investment with dubious results. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the business model is really important to Indiana legislators. Given that, perhaps we need to consider this:
1. Nearly 90% of all Indiana children (1,010,811) attend public schools.

2. The number of Indiana students using vouchers has jumped from 4,000 students in 2011-12 to 32,686 students last school year.
This ($330, 548,810.86) does not seem to be a very good return on our investment. [Note: The 2016-17 voucher report was just released and shows an additional $146 million for the total voucher cost of $476,548,810.86]

During a recent conversation that I had with a state legislator, I was told that East Allen Community Schools got a pretty big bump in the budget while Fort Wayne Community Schools did not. Apparently, this loss of revenue was based on the FWCS loss of school population. Anecdotally, my observation is that at least some of the losses are because many families are taking advantage of vouchers to flee from public schools. Many are leaving because they are getting a free voucher ticket to attend a private school. Many are leaving because of the negative narrative about failing public schools.

Most of us know that school choice has all sorts of unintended consequences; for example, Nebraska Elementary School in FWCS was located in a high poverty area; however, this neighborhood school was doing all of the things that the reformers have said that “choice” schools should do. Unfortunately, because the school was surrounded by Sweeney Park on one side and Lindenwood Cemetery on the other, when busing services were eliminated from that school, it was unable to bring in more students. Hence, the school population shrank, and unfortunately, FWCS had no choice but to close the school. This little school was a model of what the school choice folks say they want to achieve, and yet…

If you want more evidence of the negative consequences of vouchers, here are some links:
Our legislators keep telling us about how education is the largest portion of the state budget, but if they are really serious about being fiscally responsible, getting rid of the current ISTEP might be a good place to start. I was recently challenged to take the sample 3rd grade ISTEP test. While I am not a math wizard, a good deal of the test made absolutely no sense to me. Perhaps we should challenge all of our legislators to take the ISTEP tests and then post their scores. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out how they might feel to see their scores published? Would they feel the same frustration and shame that many Hoosier children feel? Would they understand and empathize with the consequences these tests have wrought? ISTEP+ Grade 3-4 Online Experience

As I scrolled through the questions, looking at this test through my educator’s eyes, these tests were neither instructionally nor developmentally appropriate. These tests measure fine motor skills and the ability to take tests. The only real takeaway that I could see for these tests was that it was to frustrate kids, to label more schools as failing, and to give test makers another reason to create more test taking software to improve scores.

ISTEP is a flawed test that keeps getting worse with each of its incarnations. Our State Legislature could save all of us a lot of taxpayer dollars if we replaced ISTEP with an off the shelf test like NAEP or almost any other field-tested, well established test.

All of the above makes me wonder why so many politicians/legislators/reformers seem hell bent for destroying public education. Rather than chasing all of the latest and greatest reform schemes down the latest rabbit hole of “choice,” wouldn’t it make more sense to fund all public schools equitably? Wouldn’t it make more sense to trust educators to find solutions to learning issues? Wouldn’t it make more sense to quit politicizing and privatizing education? Our children and our communities deserve better than this.

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Vic’s Statehouse Notes #282 – March 2, 2017

Dear Friends,

If you want to keep your power as a voter to elect the Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, as Hoosier voters have done for 166 years, these are your 26 heroes who voted “no” to SB 179, a bill to switch this power from voters to the governor:
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
Before the Senators return on Monday for the “second half” of the session, I hope you will send a message of thanks to any or all of these Senators for standing up for the power of voters and for keeping our democracy in Lincoln’s words “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

This issue is still up in the air. In the second half of the session, these Senators will be pressured to change their vote and support the appointment of a “secretary of education” by the Governor in House Bill 1005, a bill that passed the House removing any requirement that the appointee ever lived in Indiana and, unbelievably, opening the door to appointing a person with no experience as a teacher or administrator. No qualifications for this office are included in House Bill 1005.

Here is a key point: 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.”

Ask the 26 Senators listed above to take the position that they have “decisively defeated” the bill to appoint the State Superintendent. If all 26 stick to that position, attempts to resurrect the bill will fail.

Also ask the 23 Senators who voted for the bill to uphold the Senate rule that “decisively defeated” bill language shall not be considered again until the next session. Even though they supported SB 179, they should take the position that it is fundamental to uphold Senate rules. The 23 Senators to contact on this point are:

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.

If you want to maintain your power as a voter in our democracy, it’s time to go to work. This issue will be decided in the Senate, so please 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.


“The Lawmakers”

For more information on this topic, the weekly television show “The Lawmakers” on WFYI will feature this subject on their show that airs in Indianapolis on Friday evening, March 3rd. At last report, the panel on this program will include Joel Hand, our well known and well respected ICPE lobbyist, who will speak up for keeping the election of the State Superintendent in the hands of voters. Check local channels to see when “The Lawmakers” is on in your area.

The grassroots need to be heard. If you want to keep the election of our State Superintendent in the hands of the people, contact any or all Senators and tell them how you feel.

Thanks for your advocacy for public education!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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


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

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

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


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

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

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