Friday, March 9, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #317 – March 8, 2018

Dear Friends,

We need every public school advocate to send a brief email or phone message to legislators listed below before Monday, March 12th at 11am.

That is the date and time of the Conference Committee on House Bill 1315, which violates in two ways a basic pillar of public education that says:

Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

HB 1315 would knock down this pillar principle in two communities:
  • For the first time in Indiana history, non-resident outsiders would be allowed to be voting members of a community’s public school board, with no sunset provisions to return control to local residents. (Muncie)
  • For the first time in Indiana history, a public school district would not have a school board. (Gary)
This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It sets precedents for all Indiana public school districts. We need your participation!

Contact Members of the Conference Committee before Monday Morning!

It is not too late to fix either of these problems in the bill. The House and Senate passed different versions, so a conference committee will begin meeting on Monday, March 12 at 11am in Room 404 of the Statehouse.

It is a public meeting and open to all who are concerned about HB 1315. The amount of testimony taken is determined by the chair.

Corrections to the two historic flaws cited above could be made in the conference committee, which must conclude its work by Wednesday, March 14th, the last day of the session.

Conference Committee Members to Contact

Contact your Senator and your Representative first if you have not done so, because both the House and the Senate must vote on the final bill one more time.

In addition, please send messages to the Conference Committee members:

(Members are listed and pictured on the General Assembly website under Conference Committee on HB 1315.)

House Conferees: Representative Tim Brown (Chair) and Representative Vernon Smith

House Advisors: Representative Milo Smith, Representative Errington, Representative Charlie Brown and Representative Wright

Senate Conferees: Senator Mishler and Senator Tallian

Senate Advisors: Senator Bassler, Senator Lanane, Senator Eckerty, Senator Melton and Senator Holdman.

Ask them to fix two problems in the final version:
  • · Non-residents should not be on public school boards!
Outsiders should not be allowed to be voting members of the Muncie public school board. Their votes to raise property taxes on local residents would bring litigation.
  • · Every public school district should have a school board!
Give the Gary public school district the dignity of having a school board like every other school district for the past 200 years, even while an emergency manager holds all the powers of the school board to correct mismanagement.
In nearly every session since 2009, the Indiana General Assembly has eroded step by step the norms and pillars of public education in Indiana. This erosion must stop.

This bill would for the first time break the link between public school board membership and residency in the district. Indiana should not break that link!

Currently, the bill says that two of the five school board members appointed by the Ball State University board of trustees “must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

Ask Legislators to Change Two to All Five!

Ball State leaders should ask for this change. If they don’t, they have just not thought through the legal and public relations problems that would ensue when out-of-town or out-of-state school board members vote each year to set the property tax levies of local residents.

Indiana has never allowed this possibility before, and it should not allow it now.

House Bill 1315, a complex 55 page bill, has become the most controversial education bill in the short session. Legislators need to hear from you on the two points listed above!

These two points take the PUBLIC out of public education in two communities. They set two precedents for the deconstruction of public education.

Ask the members of the Conference Committee listed above to fix these two points in the bill!

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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