Sunday, March 18, 2018

Parents must keep up pressure for public schools

NEIFPE member Anne Duff wrote this letter to the editor. In it she expresses her opinion on public school reform and school choice.

Parents must keep up pressure for public schools

Published: March 16, 2018
As a parent, former teacher and guidance counselor, and current school board member, I was pleased to see so many parents engaged and involved in the recent reinstatement of honors classes in Fort Wayne Community Schools.

While we all may view this as a victory, we must remain vigilant because the attack on public education continues in Indiana.

We have seen public dollars educating more children under the guise of “school choice.” We have seen an attack on teachers by stripping them of their unions, evaluating them with students' test scores and keeping their incomes stagnant for an incomprehensible amount of time.

We have been comparing apples to oranges as the legislature and State Board of Education constantly change how we grade schools and which high-stakes tests we will use to do this.

We have seen poorly performing charter schools be forgiven their debts while many public schools are struggling to sustain financial stability due to budget cuts and tax caps.

Parents have seen the strength a committed, determined group of parents can have. They've seen the power of persuasion work in their favor.

I commend them for their efforts, but I encourage them to keep the momentum going by becoming more informed and more active.

Our public schools should be the pride of our communities and should continue to provide a strong, equal education to all students. It's time to start paying attention. It's time to put an end to the attack on public education.

Parents, you can do this! Continue your fight – not just for your children, but for all children so that they, too, can have equal access to a great public education.

Anne Duff

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education

✏️🚌✏️

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #320 – March 15, 2018

Dear Friends,

The threatened pillar of public education stills stands. At least for now, every public school district in Indiana will still be run by a school board of district residents.

The Indiana General Assembly did not vote on House Bill 1315 last night, the Muncie-Gary-fiscal indicators bill. They ran out of time before the midnight deadline.

The bill is dead.

I watched on the internet as the confusing and unexpected events unfolded.

In the Senate

At 11:58, Senator Mishler presented House Bill 1374 in record setting time and the voting machine was opened. At 11:58:58, the Senate passed 1374 by a vote of 40-3, and then turned to their last bill, House Bill 1315. Confusion reigned in the front of the Senate as leaders realized that the last vote could not be completed in less than a minute.

Senator Long, President Pro Tem, announced that the Governor had “issued an order” extending the session to 1:00am on March 15th so that the Senate could consider the final bill in an orderly way.

The announcement was surprising. After observing the Indiana General Assembly for 22 sessions, I had never heard that such an extension was even a possibility.

Senator Lanane, Minority Leader of the Senate Democrats and who as the Senator representing Muncie had fought HB 1315 saying “we are taking away the democracy of the people of Muncie in this bill”, responded to Senator Long’s announcement. It was 12:03 when he rose to say that the Democrats had no role in the fact that the Senate “couldn’t get the work done on time” since Republicans hold a supermajority and run everything. He said now they are “changing the rules”. He concluded: “This is not right. It should have never occurred. We are making it up as we go along.”

The story then zigzagged again unexpectedly when Senator Long agreed with Senator Lanane that the Senate should stop now and not hear 1315. Senator Long said things had “melted down” on the House side as well. He said “I’m not confident we can go forward.” He said “It’s unfortunate. We are where we are. We need to wrap up our business. We need to leave the last bill where it is. We moved all legislation save HB 1315.” He said “We ran out of time on negotiations. I apologize for the chaotic close to this session.”

At 12:08, Senator Long said “I need a motion. It’s been a good year. Thanks to all of you. It’s time for us to go home.” He then moved to adjourn Sine Die. A loud voice vote approved the motion.

It was 12:10 am.

In the House of Representatives

Time ran out on the House side as well.

Bills coming to a vote on the last night must be approved by the Rules Committee to set aside time deadlines. Then they are eligible to go back to the House floor for the final vote. The House Rules Committee, which meets two floors above the House Chamber in Room 404, took up House Bill 1315 as Chairman Torr noted that it is “14 minutes until midnight.”

Representative Tim Brown, the sponsor of HB 1315, briefly explained the bill, saying Ball State University would take over the Muncie schools and that there would be an appointed school board. He said the final bill is like the original House version which had been approved by a partisan vote.

Then Representative Pierce said “Point of order! There are no signatures on this report.”

Chairman Torr said “Let’s move to HB 1104 while we get a signature page.” HB 1104 was discussed and approved 7-3. It was now 11:51.

Chairman Torr then called on Representative Brown to present his other bill on sales tax, HB 1316. It was discussed and approved 7-3. It was now 11:55.

Chairman Torr still didn’t have a signed copy of the conference committee report on HB 1315, but he asked Representative Brown for assurances that a signed copy is on file and then allowed a vote. The committee approved 1315 by a 7-3 vote. It was now 11:56.

Chairman Torr then adjourned the Rules Committee as someone was saying “What about Senate Bill 242” and Chairman Torr was answering “We don’t have time.” It was now 11:57.

As it turned out, there was no final House floor vote on HB 1230, HB 1104, HB 1316, SB 242 or HB 1315.

Later, as I returned to internet coverage of the House after the Senate adjourned, Speaker Bosma was going through final pre-adjournment motions. He then asked for a motion to adjourn Sine Die.

The motion passed at 12:15 am.

Your Participation Made the Difference!

And that’s how it happened that all public school districts are still run by a school board of district residents. With your help and the hundreds of messages that were sent, this particular attack on a core principle of public education has been blocked for now.

There is talk of a special session to pass the final bills. The forces pushing to diminish the pillar principles of public education are persistent. Stay alert!

Where Do We Stand Now?
  • Muncie and Gary both still have school boards elected by the voters even though in both districts the emergency managers have assumed by current law all the powers of the school board until such time as the financial mismanagement problems are corrected. Testimony given throughout the session reported that both emergency managers were making good progress in fixing the problems.
  • All school board members in Muncie are still residents of the Muncie school district and not outsiders.
  • The experimental Ball State plan to disconnect the Muncie public schools from the education laws of Indiana except for the 29 laws specifically listed in HB 1315 will not go forward. This experiment had never before been proposed for an entire public school district. This bill was never reviewed by the House and Senate Education Committees but instead only went through the finance committees.
Your participation made a huge difference in contesting House Bill 1315 leading to its unusual demise. You know what you did, and this time it made the difference. Thank 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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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #318 – March 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

The final day of the short session is tomorrow, and the final version of House Bill 1315 is still up in the air.

However it comes out, it will still have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

If you have not contacted your legislators about your opposition yet, give it one more shot tonight or Wednesday. It looks like it will be one of the last bills to be voted on Wednesday evening, the last night of the session.

Tell your legislators or any legislators:
  • Non-residents should not be on public school boards!
Outsiders should not be allowed to be voting members of the Muncie public school board. This precedent would dismantle a core principle of public education.
  • 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.
Tell them they must not pass a bill that takes down another pillar of public education. That pillar says:

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

Yet another pillar of public education in Indiana is in jeopardy.

The Meeting of the Conference Committee on HB 1315

Concerns about appointing non-resident school board members and losing the voice of citizens were clear themes in statements from legislators and those testifying at yesterday’s (March 12th) Conference Committee meeting.

Senator Lanane said: “We are taking away the democracy of the people of Muncie in this bill.”

Senator Tallian said: “We are dismantling public schools” by adding a “university-run alternative” to the long list of alternative schools the General Assembly has created, to the point where we no longer “provide a uniform system of common schools” as Article 8 of our Constitution says we must do.

Representative Vernon Smith called having non-residents on the school board a “terrible decision” and said we should “keep the school board in Gary.”

Senator Melton said Ball State University could help Muncie schools “without legislation.”

Representative Tim Brown, chair of the Conference Committee, allowed all members of the public to speak who wished to do so. Eight took advantage of the opportunity.

My testimony that I gave can be found HERE.

This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It sets precedents for all Indiana public school districts. We need your participation!

If you have not done so already, contact your own House member and Senator or other legislators about House Bill 1315. The results of your work will be known tomorrow.

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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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Backpack Full of Cash - April 14, 2018

Click the link below to join ISTA and Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education for a free, ticketed screening of the acclaimed documentary, Backpack Full of Cash. Get your tickets now...seating is limited.

Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, Backpack Full of Cash takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013–14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education—starved of resources—hangs in the balance.

Watch the preview at vimeo.com/189823117.

Click HERE to get your free tickets to Backpack Full of Cash, before they're gone.

Sat, April 14, 2018
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

IVY Tech
3800 N Anthony Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46805


🎬🎬🎬

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 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, March 7, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #316 – March 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

This one needs your immediate attention:

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

This has been a core principle for public education in Indiana that has not been challenged for 200 years until House Bill 1315 came along this session.

HB 1315 sets a damaging precedent by knocking 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)

It’s Not Too Late. Send Your Legislators a Message Today!

It is not too late to fix either of these problems in the bill. The Senate version, passed Tuesday by a vote of 35-14, is different from the House version, which passed 64-27, so a conference committee is expected, perhaps starting tomorrow (March 8). Corrections could be made in the conference committee. The session must adjourn by March 14th.

Time is short. Take a few minutes right away to contact your Senator and your Representative, along with other legislators if you can. Tell them:
  • Outsiders should not be allowed to be on the Muncie public school board. Their votes to raise property taxes on residents would bring litigation.
  • 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 is given 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 of public education in Indiana. This erosion must stop.

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 these points!

Improvements on Second Reading in the Senate

The Senate improved the bill significantly during second reading amendments. Several Senators should be credited and thanked for participating in the amendment process on Monday (March 5) including Senator Mishler (Senate sponsor), Senator Head, Senator Lanane, Senator Ruckelshaus, Senator Breaux and Senator Tallian.

Senator Mishler, who was praised by the Senators from Muncie and Gary for his openness and transparency in debating this controversial bill, supported several amendments which improved the bill. He was also responsible in the Senate bill for improving the fiscal indicator dashboard to keep the watch list confidential until all data is verified for accuracy.

A big thank you should go to Senator Head for offering an amendment to restore six citizenship laws to the list of laws that Muncie public schools must follow in their otherwise flexible curriculum under Ball State’s control. The amendment, passed on a voice vote, restored the following curriculum requirements to Muncie:
20-30-5-0.5 - display of the flag; pledge of allegiance
20-30-5-1 - constitutions of Indiana and the United States
20-30-5-2 – constitution; interdisciplinary course
20-30-5-3 – writings, documents and records of American history
20-30-5-4 – system of government; American history
20-30-5-6 – good citizenship instruction
Chairman Mishler also supported an amendment by Senator Lanane, who represents Muncie, which says: “In making the appointments under this subdivision, the Ball State University board of trustees and the President of Ball State University shall strive to ensure that the members appointed to the governing body reflect the geographical and socioeconomic composition of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

This amendment is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t cancel the current language on page 40, line 20 allowing non-residents to be appointed to three seats: “Five (5) members will be appointed by the Ball State University board of trustees from individuals nominated by the President of Ball State University. At least two (2) of the individuals appointed under this clause must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

Ask Legislators to Change Two to All Five!

This bill would for the first time break the link between public school board membership and residency in the district.

This is step Indiana must not take.

There are sound reasons why public school board members up to now have been required to be residents:
  • School board members vote on property tax issues. They would know from personal experience what the impact is on their taxes when they vote on property tax levies. Outsiders would be voting to tax people potentially in a different state from where they live and pay taxes.
  • School board members need to know the community. Appointing outsiders could prompt a split in the board on community issues.
  • Residents who believe that it is wrong for school board members who live in New York, California or Chicago to be voting to raise their local property taxes for any purpose might use this non-resident status as the basis for a lawsuit to challenge the action of the board, costing extra legal fees.
We just shouldn’t go there.

When asked during debates in the House about this point, the sponsor of the bill Representative Tim Brown said Ball State should be able to appoint David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates to the school board.

Write Legislators Today or Tomorrow!

Public school advocates have the opportunity during the conference committee process to try to repair two historic flaws that should be corrected:
1) The Muncie public schools are allowed to have non-resident outsiders in three of the seven school board seats.

2) The Gary public schools will no longer have a school board. It will be replaced by an advisory board.
These two points take the PUBLIC out of public education in two communities. They set two precedents for the deconstruction of public education.

These would be firsts. They would unravel yet another pillar of public education.

They are not right.

These two points could be fixed in the conference committee before final passage. Send messages to legislators today!

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 2, 2018

Time to get serious on gun violence

NEIFPE member Terry Springer sent this letter to the editor. In it she expresses her opinion on gun
violence in public schools and elsewhere.

Time to get serious on gun violence

Published: March 2, 2018
Intelligent, reasonable people with the ability to think critically and the willingness to work with others to solve a problem can solve it.

All the condemnation, blame, outrage and name-calling will not make our children, teachers, administrators and school staffs safer.

In a nation as wealthy as ours, our children should be safe in school and in church. Schools and universities should not have to have “active shooter” drills. But as it stands, no child is really safe in school now no matter what their parents' views on gun control are. That is indecent and immoral, and it will happen again unless as a society we take steps to solve the problem.

There is no simple solution. Restricting access to guns alone will not solve it, but reasonable gun regulation may be one part of the solution just as funding a safety net for those who suffer from mental illnesses could help. Anyone who thinks he or she alone has the solution is both foolish and arrogant, and anyone who believes he or she is not in some way responsible wears blinders. This is our society, and our children are not safe in our schools.

We can change that if we want, but all the rants, all the thoughts and prayers, all the official statements of support and the condolences will not move us one step closer to the solution or save our children's lives from the next mad man or terrorist with an assault weapon.

We need to use some common sense, employ reason and be willing to do what is right even if doing so requires a little – just a little – sacrifice or inconvenience for us.

Terry Springer

Fort Wayne