Thursday, March 1, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #315 – March 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

Unbelievably, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amended version of House Bill 1315 this morning which still allows Ball State to ignore the mandated patriotic curriculum laws (IC 20-30-5) as Ball State runs the Muncie public schools.

It is hard to understand why Ball State needs the flexibility to ignore the citizenship mandates of 20-30-5 for each school to:
· display the flag
· provide a daily opportunity to say the pledge of allegiance
· provide instruction on the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution
· require a 2 semester course in American History
· provide citizenship instruction at the time of every general election
· integrate good citizenship instruction into the curriculum
These mandates to study citizenship lie at the heart of public education. The General Assembly even requires that private voucher schools follow the mandates of 20-30-5 under the voucher law!

Why wouldn’t Ball State be required to include citizenship mandates when they take over the Muncie public schools?

This oversight can be corrected with a second reading amendment if Senators hear from enough public school advocates who believe that citizenship education is vital for all public schools.

Please contact your Senator and Senator Long, President Pro Tem, to ask them to guarantee Ball State will not ignore citizenship instruction mandated in IC 20-30-5.

HB 1315 says “Muncie Community school corporation is subject only to” a list of 28 laws from the Indiana Code 20 on education. Senators should make 20-30-5 the 29th law to follow!

Other Concerns about HB 1315

Here is an update on the other three concerns shared in my previous Statehouse Notes #314:

1) Don’t let non-residents run public school districts. Ask Senators to return the public to the Muncie public schools by requiring that not just two but all seven members “reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”

Some changes in the right direction were made today, but the changes fall short of the goal to have all Muncie school board members to be residents of the Muncie school district.

The bill now says that the two board member seats currently guaranteed to residents will become elected seats in 2022.

Also two of the five board members appointed by the Ball State trustees must be residents of the district.

This change raises the total number who must reside in the district from two to four.

Three may still be non-residents.

The rationale for making Muncie the first public school district in Indiana to have non-residents on its public school board is still a mystery. Voting on property tax issues doesn’t make sense for non-residents board members.

Please urge Senators to change this bill to put residents on the school board for all seven seats!

2) Don’t eliminate the school board but rather return the voice of the community to the school board after corrective actions have been completed by an emergency manager. Ask Senators to maintain the institution of the school board for all public school districts so that when financial distress and debt problems have been resolved by an emergency manager, local control can be returned to the local community through a school board, an institution that has stood the test of time.

This concern is still an issue also. The amended bill changed the name of the new entity from “advisory committee” to “advisory board”. Eliminating the Gary School Board sets a precedent we don’t need. The school board’s power has already been ended while the emergency manager makes corrections.

Please urge Senators to maintain the institution of the school board even while deficit and debt problems are resolved by an emergency manager.

3) Don’t permit preliminary discussions of watch lists in public meetings when they haven’t been vetted and certified. Ask Senators to amend the fiscal indicators section of HB 1315 to permit the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) to consider “watch lists” in confidential executive sessions so that no district will prematurely get a black eye in the public’s mind until accuracy has been certified.

The committee repaired this part of the bill to keep fiscal problems confidential until accuracy is confirmed. Senators should be thanked for their work on this problem.

Action Today

The positive changes noted above were contained in an amendment authored by Chairman Mishler which passed on a party line vote.

Democrats on the committee offered five amendments to make additional changes, one of which would have reduced the bill to the section on fiscal indicators for all schools and let Muncie and Gary proceed according to the law written last year. All five amendments failed on a party line vote, 4-9.

The amended bill passed 9-4 on a party line vote.

Take Action about HB 1315 As Soon As Possible

We need your voice to contact Senators about HB 1315 regarding amendments!

I urge you to contact your Senator or any Senator
· to restore citizenship education and resident control in Muncie public schools.

· to preserve the institution of the school board in Gary.

· to prevent HB 1315 from becoming a precedent in the deconstruction of the local control of public education.
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 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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