Sunday, December 31, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #308 – December 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

It was confirmed in a survey in my mailbox.

A direct attack on public education is coming in the short session starting January 3rd. Public education parents and advocates need to be ready to fend off a new form of privatization.

This attack would put in place Milton Friedman’s blueprint to end public education by giving public money directly to parents on a debit card. My previous notes (#307, Dec. 18, 2017) detailed this plan called “Education Savings Accounts”.

Confirmation that this new attack on public education will be a high priority in the General Assembly came in my mailbox.

When I read the annual survey from my State Senator, Senator Ruckelshaus, one of only six questions asked whether I would support or oppose giving $6000 on a debit card to unsupervised home schools for special education students. Actually, this is my description of the Educational Savings Account proposal. Here is how the survey question read:

“Do you support or oppose giving parents of children with special needs the option to use state educational funding for services such as private-school tuition, tutoring or online courses?”

Questions don’t get on the legislative survey unless the issue has support.

This deceptive language tries to normalize a radical idea to give taxpayer tuition money to home schools for the very first time. It leaves out a lot of details:
  • It does not clearly say that parents of disabled children can already get a voucher for private-school tuition, so that would be nothing new.
  • It does not clearly say parents of disabled children will be given $6000 or more in taxpayer money on a debit card to be home schooled without supervision in exchange for giving up their right to a “free appropriate public education” and their right to an “individual education plan (IEP)” approved by the parent which has been guaranteed by federal law since the 1970’s.
  • It does not clearly say parents of disabled children could leave out teaching about our democracy if they want to. With this proposal, democracy is in peril.

The Battle to Come

Wealthy advocates for private school vouchers such as Fred Klipsch have contributed heavily to the campaign funds of Indiana legislators, so legislators will take it seriously when private school advocates ask for a radical plan like Education Savings Accounts. Plans like this have been passed in Florida and five other states with the support of the Jeb Bush Foundation.

This will be a major battle which needs your participation.

What Can You Do?
1) Let your legislator know how much you oppose diverting $6000 to $15,000 per student from our public schools to give to unsupervised and unaudited parents.

2) Share this alert with parents of special education students and ask them to get involved to stop this attack on special education programs in our public schools. This proposal will damage stable, high performing special education programs as budgets drop when money is diverted to unsupervised parents.

3) Speak against this radical plan at the hearing in the Senate Education Committee. The initial hearing on Senator Raatz’s bill to give debit cards to parents instead of sending money to their school will come at a 1:30pm Senate Education Committee meeting on a Wednesday afternoon, either Jan. 10, 17, 24 or 31. Please get ready, because no doubt the proponents are ready. Last year two speakers were flown in to the hearing from out of state by the Jeb Bush Foundation to tout the proposal.
Why Would “Education Savings Accounts” Undermine Public Education in Indiana?

Public education advocates should be ready to oppose this “foot in the door” attack to allow public school tuition money to be diverted directly to parents. Here is a brief summary of the problems of “ESA’s” which I described in depth in my last “Notes” dated December 18th:
1) Based on bills filed in both the House and the Senate in 2016 and 2017, ESA’s would put in place Milton Friedman’s blueprint to end public education by giving public money directly to parents on a debit card. Parents of special education students would be eligible for $6,500 to $15,000 currently given to the school to pay for services for various levels of disability. Senator Raatz’s bill which was given a hearing in February 2017 applied to special education and Section 504 health impaired students.

2) To get the money, parents merely have to sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.” That’s all! It’s an unregulated and narrow education. No art, no music, no physical education, no health, no vocational subjects. This would allow parents to lower standards for students while standards for public school students are being raised to ever higher levels for testing and for graduation. That is not right.

3) The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or evaluation or public accountability of student achievement. This is just wrong.

4) ESA’s would remove all income limits in order to give public money to high income parents of special education and Section 504 students. Currently, the State gives vouchers to disabled students when families earn less than $89,900 for a family of four. This vast expansion led LSA to cite Senator Raatz’s bill filed in 2017 to cost “between $144 million and $206 million.”

5) ESA’s would give the entire amount of public money for special education students directly to parents. This is a “foot in the door” to the real goal to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This plan undermines the very concept of schools.

6) ESA’s would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.

7) The plan has no defined penalties for parents who commit fraud. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse or welfare fraud or addiction are not excluded.
In a year when radical federal policies have been normalized, the “Education Savings Account” plan tries to normalize a radical plan to bypass schools and give taxpayer money directly to parents without accountability checks or audits. This plan should not be normalized but should be seen as the radical concept that it is.

Our Indiana Constitution calls for the General Assembly to provide, “by law, a general and uniform system of Common Schools”. This proposal would hurt our Common Schools.

Our Indiana Constitution calls for educational improvements “by all suitable means”. This proposal is not suitable because it would harm our Common schools and the students that rely on them for services.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly typically have avoided allowing radical proposals to gain traction in an election year because they would make large numbers of public education parents and leaders angry. This proposal would make public education parents angry. You can help the leadership understand this fact so that they decide to back off in this short session.

I urge you to participate in turning back this attack on our public schools of 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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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #307 – December 18, 2017

Dear Friends,

The short session of the General Assembly beginning January 3rd will bring another frontal attack on public education to privatize education in a new way.

This attack will be in addition to debates about whether to fund controversial unfunded mandates for new graduation requirements passed by the State Board of Education on December 6th.

Demoralized public school educators don’t need another attack on public education. They came out in force to oppose the graduation requirements because adequate funding and specifics were not clear. The pleas of over 60 educators and parents who spoke against the plan were ignored by the State Board in a 7-4 vote.

Now a new attack is coming from a different direction.

Senator Raatz has again prepared a bill to undermine public school programs for special education students by creating “Education Savings Accounts”, a terrible idea promoted heavily by well funded groups that support privatizing education. The idea is detailed below.

The concept of “Educational Savings Accounts” for special education students is so detrimental to high educational standards and to maintaining accountability with public tax money that it should be rejected outright as soon as possible. It undermines the very concept of schooling.

After noting the huge problems of “Education Savings Accounts” listed below, I urge you to do three things:
1) Contact your own legislators in the House and Senate to tell them you deeply oppose “Education Savings Accounts”. Urge them to say absolutely no to ESA’s in their caucus meetings. The strongest voices for this effort would be parents of special education students who don’t want to see the services and funding for their children’s school programs eroded by this plan. Tell legislators that giving serious attention to radical ideas that undercut public education contributes to the demoralization of dedicated public schools educators, a direct cause of early retirements, reduced recruitment of young teachers and teacher shortages.

2) Contact Senator Kruse, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and urge him to stop the bill on “Education Savings Accounts” by not giving it a hearing. In February 2017 he allowed a hearing on Senator Raatz’s Senate Bill 534, but he announced before the hearing began that he would not allow a vote on the bill after the hearing. That move to stop the bill in the 2017 session was greatly appreciated. Ask Senator Kruse to protect the concept of public education in 2018 by stopping Senator Raatz’s bill on “Education Savings Accounts” again.

3) Contact Senator Raatz of Richmond to ask him to give up the idea of “Education Savings Accounts” due to their toxic impact undermining the funding for special education programs in public schools across Indiana that are doing outstanding work and clearly need stable funding.
Why would Education Savings Accounts threaten the existence of public education? Why are Educational Savings Accounts so detrimental to education standards in Indiana and to accountability?

Changes may be made in new bills filed in the 2018 session. This list of serious concerns is based directly on “Education Savings Account” bills filed in both 2016 and 2017.
1) Based on bills filed in both the House and the Senate in 2016 and 2017, ESA’s would put in place Milton Friedman’s blueprint to end public education by giving public money directly to parents on a debit card. All parents would get a debit card of approximately $6000 which currently goes to schools. Parents of special education students would be eligible to get an additional $500 to $9000 currently given to the school to pay for special education services for various levels of disability. Senator Raatz’s bill which was given a hearing in February 2017 only applied to special education and Section 504 health impaired students. Other bills have been filed in the House in 2016 and 2017 which would apply to all students.

2) To get the money, parents merely have to sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.” That’s all! It’s an unregulated and narrow education. No art, no music, no physical education, no health, no vocational subjects. This would absolutely lower standards for students while standards for public school students are being raised to higher and higher levels for testing and for graduation.

3) The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or evaluation or public accountability of student achievement. This is just wrong and in total contrast to testing and accountability laws for Indiana schools.

4) ESA’s would give public money to high income parents of special education and Section 504 students. For these students, all income limits would be removed. Under current law, the State gives vouchers to disabled students when families earn less than $89,900 for a family of four. This vast expansion led LSA to cite Senator Raatz’s bill filed in 2017 to cost “between $144 million and $206 million.” Unacceptable!

5) ESA’s would give the entire amount of public money for special education students directly to parents, paving the way for the real goal to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This bill thus undermines the very concept of schools.

6) ESA’s would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.

7) The plan would give public money to parents with extremely weak provisions for fraud protection and no defined penalties for fraud. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse or welfare fraud are not excluded.

8) While public schools are pushed to ever higher standards, individual families would be allowed to adopt lower standards. That is not right.
If this concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and Education Savings Accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or even the voucher schools to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money.

This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected by the General Assembly. If this concept is not decisively rejected, the future of public education in Indiana is bleak. Our hard working but demoralized teachers and administrators in Indiana would take this bill as a signal that General Assembly is ready to put public education into a death spiral, and some would make plans to leave for other states or other vocations, making our teacher shortage even worse.

This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action. Legislators should absolutely reject “Education Savings Accounts.”

Let your legislators, along with Senators Kruse and Raatz as noted above, know that you support strong and well funded public education and that you oppose “Education Savings Accounts” that would lower educational standards and undermine funding for our public schools. This attack must be resisted.

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, November 17, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #306 – November 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

The fight against private school vouchers is not just about the money diverted from public school students. It’s about the survival of our democracy.

The money is an important factor. Under the 2011 private school voucher law, $146 million in taxpayer dollars were diverted from public schools to private schools in the 2016-17 school year.

That’s $146 million in one year. The amount diverted has gone up each year during the six years private school vouchers have been funded by the state. No doubt that figure will continue to go up each year.

This amount has an obvious impact on public school students. Their schools are getting millions less.

The debate, however, about strengthening or privatizing our public schools is about far more than money.

The deeper debate is about whether our democracy will survive without strong public schools. When our public schools are privatized, will our democracy be able to continue?

Many observers have expressed concerns about the health of our democracy since the 2016 election campaign. It’s a genuine concern.

Private school vouchers will undermine our democracy and our social fabric in at least five ways:
If you analyze recent trends, you can see they have already done so.
Private school vouchers have shattered the separation of church and state observed in K-12 funding in Indiana since the 1851 Constitution.

In Indiana, 98% of private voucher schools are religious schools. Government and religion have now been entwined by giving millions in state tax funds to religious private schools, a practice that had been assumed to be wrong for 160 years after Indiana adopted the 1851 Constitution which said (Article 6) “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” State funds are now going to private religious schools that teach creationism in science class in place of evolution. State funds are now going to religious schools that can legally discriminate based on RFRA since they were exempted from the famous “fix” to the RFRA law. Government and religion are now entwined.
We will segregate into religious enclaves. Private religious schools are sectarian; Public schools are not.

Vouchers give an incentive for every religious group to use public tax money to set up their own religious enclave with their own school paid for by taxpayers, leaving communities fragmented. This will complicate the transmission of the skills of listening to other points of view and learning to give and take which are vital to maintaining a democracy. Experience with diversity will diminish and perspectives will narrow.
We will have greater partisanship. Public schools are politically non-partisan by law; Private schools, however, can be politically partisan.

Vouchers give public money to private schools that can indoctrinate partisan political attitudes into the minds of young children, unlike the non-partisan pro and con debate tradition that is fundamental to public education. Engrained partisanship will begin in the early formative years, complicating the work of democracy which depends on a willingness to compromise.
Marketing will rule. The competition for the approval of parents will put marketing above curriculum and instruction in the priorities of each school.

Vouchers force all public schools to put marketing as a new top priority. In the new world of school choice in a marketplace of schools, if parents do not know how good the school is, they won’t choose it. We all know that in any marketplace, marketing and advertising can make all the difference and that even poor choices can be made to seem good by clever marketing. Public schools must now push to the back burner their focus on sound curriculum and instruction while they put top priority on marketing and public images. The Hamilton Southeastern Schools, for example, is one of several districts focused on updating their brand. They recently initiated a marketing strategy update and branding makeover along with a website redesign costing several thousand dollars, paid not from tax money but from their Coke fund. Public schools across Indiana will have no choice but to take similar steps to maintain their enrollment in competition with virtual charter schools and many other competitive private schools that are recruiting for enrollment in Indiana’s school marketplace.
Civics will be neglected. The competition for the approval of parents will force enormous attention only on the subjects used to grade schools in the mandated testing program: math and language arts.

Vouchers force all schools to put math and language arts as first priorities because those subjects are the basis for accountability letter grades which are the most visible marks by which parents judge and choose a school. This has left citizen education, civics and non-partisan voter education as expendable items in the K-12 curriculum, a tragedy for our democracy which must teach every new generation the civic values and procedures of our democratic society. Less attention to civics and citizenship has been well documented in Indiana. This is perhaps the most damaging way that the voucher movement is undermining our democracy.
Prophetic Predictions

Consider the prophetic statement of the former Wisconsin State Superintendent Herbert Grover back in the 1990’s when Wisconsin passed the first private school voucher program:
If you look closely, you can see the social fabric of America beginning to unravel. Private school vouchers permit us to fear one another, to surround ourselves with those who look and think like we do, and — in so doing — to abandon our commitment to pluralism and diversity.
Now consider the conclusion of a great article by Erica Christakos, who has written superbly on the vital importance of public schools in the October 2017 issue of the Atlantic entitled Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools. That’s a Mistake. She closes her must-read article with this thought:
The political theorist Benjamin Barber warned in 2004 that ‘America as a commercial society of individual consumers may survive the destruction of public schooling. American as a democratic republic cannot.’ In this era of growing fragmentation, we urgently need a renewed commitment to the idea that public education is a worthy investment, one that pays dividends not only to individual families but to our society as a whole.
The public schools of the United States have been a bedrock for democracy for 180 years since Horace Mann led the way. For the reasons cited above, we could lose our democracy if public education is privatized.

Let your legislators know that you support strong and well funded public education because you believe we cannot maintain our democracy without it.

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, November 10, 2017

Warning: Cancer Schmantzer-free Blog

The following was posted today by Phyllis Bush on her blog, Kind of a Big Dill.
Warning: Cancer Schmantzer-free Blog

Dear Cancer Schmantzer friends,

This particular blog post will not be about cancer, but it will be about something which I care about deeply.


I am reaching out because at this is the time of the year, many of us search for good, charitable causes. As you search for a good cause, I hope you will think about the Network for Public Education where I have been a Board member for 4 years.  NPE has about 330,000 members nationwide. Our mission is to protect, improve, and strengthen public education for this present generation and generations to come.

As many of you know, there is a real movement afoot to destroy public schools. This movement is being fueled by Betsy DeVos, this administration, and Congress. The agenda is to replace and privatize public schools by using vouchers and charters, and in many states (like Indiana), they have had great success.

NPE fights back. Through reports, writing campaigns, films, and newsletters, we let the American public know that public education is the pillar of our democracy and if we lose it, we will not get it back. Even though we operate on a shoestring compared to most non-profit organizations, all of that work costs money. You can learn more about us here: https://networkforpubliceducation.org/

I hope that you can share some of your holiday generosity with NPE by making a tax deductible donation. You can make that donation online at https://networkforpubliceducation.org/about-npe/donate/ or send a check to:

Network for Public Education
PO Box 150266
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

Thank you so much.

Phyllis
🚌🚌🚌

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #305 – October 24, 2017

Dear Friends,

As he retires after 25 years in the Senate, Senator Kenley can be thanked for using his power and experience to be the driving force in adding $72 million to K-12 funding in the two-year budget passed last April.

$72 million more for K-12 students!

Senator Kenley’s retirement was effective September 30th. Obviously, he will be missed.

Here’s How Senator Kenley Influenced the K-12 Budget
  • In January, Governor Holcomb’s budget proposed to add $280 million to the two-year K-12 budget, with a totally inadequate 1% increase in the first year. A 1% increase would be treating public schools as if we were still in the Great Recession.
Strike one.
  • In February, the House of Representatives budget proposed to add even less: $273 million. They also proposed a mere 1% increase in the first year.
Strike two. Prospects for K-12 funding looked dismal.
  • Then in April, the Senate budget controlled primarily by Senator Kenley as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee added $358 million to the K-12 budget, $85 million more than the House proposal.
That was both great news for public schools and a measure of Senator Kenley’s influence on K-12 funding.

Strike three never came, thanks in large part to the influence of Senator Kenley.
The final budget was then negotiated by Senator Kenley, Chair of Senate Appropriations and Representative Brown, Chair of House Ways and Means to resolve differences in the two houses. Negotiations will sometimes simply split the differences in the two budgets, but that didn’t happen. Senator Kenley’s final negotiations with the House ended up with a budget giving K-12 funding an added $345 million over two years, $72 million more than the original House budget.

We should all thank Senator Kenley for running one more time and for using his final session to stand up for K-12 funding.

Answering the Questions

Some observers questioned why Senator Kenley ran for re-election if he wasn’t going to serve out his final term of office. His response to those questions was reported in the Indianapolis Star (7/6/17, p. 1) when he announced his retirement on July 5th: “Kenley said Wednesday that he ran last year to ensure that the two-year budget lawmakers passed earlier this year included a long-term road funding plan and maintained spending levels on K-12 education. With those goals accomplished, it felt like the right time to move on, he said.”

Public school advocates should be glad he was there and working to maintain K-12 funding on the Senate side, because the Governor and the House were willing to let K-12 funding levels slip to Great Recession levels.

We are fortunate Senator Kenley decided to run one more time to impact K-12 funding in the right direction. It wasn’t an easy election for him. He was challenged in the primary by a candidate strongly funded by pro-voucher groups, but he withstood the challenge with the help of many public school supporters.

Senator Kenley had good support from other Senators on the Appropriations Committee to lift K-12 funding well above the skimpy House proposal, especially from Senator Mishler, chair of the School Funding Subcommittee and a long-time supporter of public education. It is very good news for public education advocates that Senator Mishler has been named to replace Senator Kenley as chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Will Lackadaisical Funding for K-12 Become the Norm?

Since legislation passed in 2011 giving public money to private schools, I have been extremely concerned that legislators would grow lackadaisical about funding K-12 education to the level that our public school students need and deserve, citing the excuse that if parents don’t like the schooling their child is receiving, they can make another choice. Low priority on K-12 funding is now a consistent danger. This low priority is what we saw in the House budget, but Senator Kenley and his Senate colleagues were willing to press the issue for better K-12 funding, leading the way to $72 million more for our public school students.

As he retires, Senator Kenley should be thanked 72 million times for standing up in the budget debates for much needed K-12 funding.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #304 – September 23, 2017

Dear Friends,

Now that the Indiana General Assembly is funding a pilot program for pre-kindergarten students, it’s time to make sure all students in Indiana take kindergarten. Kindergarten is still not required for Indiana students.

At the very successful ICPE meeting in Indianapolis on August 26th, State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick spoke up for mandatory kindergarten.

Before the biggest audience since the fall ICPE meetings began at the Dean Evans Center in 2011, over one hundred ICPE members and other friends of public education heard former State Superintendents Suellen Reed and Glenda Ritz agree with Dr. McCormick, since both had supported unsuccessful efforts to require kindergarten when they were in office.

Dr. McCormick has advocated mandatory kindergarten in public comments since the meeting, saying that the estimated number of students who enroll in first grade without having kindergarten first is around 7000.

That is far too many students who in most cases are already behind when they enter first grade.

Let your legislators know that you support guaranteeing that students go to kindergarten. You can share with them the insightful argument that Dr. McCormick used at the August 26th meeting: It is not right to allow students who have had a year of pre-kindergarten at taxpayer expense to take a sabbatical for a year before they take first grade.



Transparency for Spending Public Funds

All three speakers agreed on another key point for public education: There should be transparency in reporting to the state for any school that takes public funds, whether it is a public, charter or private school. Jennifer McCormick, calling for transparency, asked if school choice is made available, “shouldn’t it be a quality choice?” She called for a “safety baseline” based on state standards, and compared the situation to quality standards set for restaurants by the Department of Health. She said if choices are made available, we should have “quality, not a free-for-all.”

The ICPE audience applauded.

Suellen Reed quoted Mark Twain: “The greatness of our American democracy comes from our public schools.”

Glenda Ritz said the United States must invest in children holistically, including wrap-around services.

All in all, it was a great discussion in support of the future of public education. Mandatory kindergarten and greater transparency in spending public funds were two important topics out of several discussed. They are two that deserve your support and the support of your legislators in the short session starting in January.

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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