Sunday, May 13, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #323 – May 12, 2018

Dear Friends,

Are Muncie schools about to get a pass on school accountability and letter grades?

The Indiana General Assembly is poised to pass a bill in Monday’s special session that would allow Muncie public schools under Ball State’s control to ignore the system of school letter grades under the accountability law.

A new analysis has clarified that Indiana’s school accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow when they are running the Muncie public schools, according to the text of House Bill 1315ss which is scheduled for approval in one day on Monday.

This would be a first for Indiana. All other schools getting public dollars must participate in the letter grade system:
  • All charter schools must follow IC 20-31, the school accountability law, according to the charter school law (IC 20-24).
  • All voucher private schools must follow IC 20-31-8-3 to receive a letter grade designation, according to the voucher law (IC 20-51)
You can check this out for yourself by looking at the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow while running the Muncie public schools on pages 32 and 33 of the proposed House Bill 1315ss, available on the Indiana General Assembly web site. The accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29.

You can then compare this to the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow in IC 20-24-8-5. The charter school list does indeed include the accountability law, IC 20-31.

It is hard to believe that Representative Tim Brown, the author of the bill, really meant to give Ball State a pass on school letter grades as they run the Muncie public schools. I am assuming this is a major oversight that needs to be corrected in the special session.

In the hearings that I attended on HB 1315, letter grades were not discussed.

House Bill 1315ss must be amended on Monday to add the accountability law (IC 20-31) to the list of laws that Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie schools. The Indiana General Assembly has been resolute in the past that all schools must have letter grades for accountability purposes. This has been a central tenet of the plan to have a marketplace of schools in Indiana.

Contact your legislators in the House and the Senate by Monday or during the special session on Monday:
  • Tell them to amend the list of 29 laws Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie public schools. Many key laws such as bullying prevention have been omitted.
  • Tell them the list of laws to follow must include the accountability law, IC 20-31. It would be wrong to give Ball State a pass on giving letter grades to Muncie schools in a state where all charter, voucher and public schools must be given letter grades.
  • Tell them while they are at it, they should add two teacher protection laws from the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow that are not on Ball State’s list of 29 laws to follow under the current draft of HB 1315ss:
(1) IC 20-28-10-12 antidiscrimination; marital status

(2) IC 20-28-10-14 teacher’s freedom of association
House Bill 1315ss is flawed and incomplete. It must be amended in Monday’s special session.

Contact your legislators about these concerns. There is no reason to excuse any school in Indiana from the letter grade system.

This isn’t right.

Thank you for your active support of 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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Monday, May 7, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #322 – May 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

Two questions:
  • Shouldn’t the students of Muncie public schools be guaranteed the protection of the bullying prevention law?
  • What’s wrong with having Ball State follow the education laws of Indiana when they take over the Muncie Community public schools?
The unprecedented experiment in HB 1315 to have Ball State run Muncie public schools “subject only to” following 29 out of hundreds of Indiana’s education laws cries out for an amendment. Allowing a public school district to follow only a small list of education laws is a first in Indiana history.

As currently written, the bill will (1) remove important protections for students, (2) remove community protections, (3) remove basic standards, and (4) remove opportunities for state grants for student programs.

It’s a flawed plan that has received little attention. For the safety of Muncie public school students and to preserve accountability to the Muncie community, HB 1315 must be amended.

Yet after a two hour hearing on HB 1315 today in the Legislative Council, the bill was approved with no amendments for consideration in the May 14th special session. The vote was 10-4, a party line vote.

To restore the laws protecting Muncie students and other important laws, contact your legislators and contact Ball State to ask them to delete Section 3 (c) on pages 32 and 33 of the proposed draft of House Bill 1315 ss.

How Does HB 1315 Remove Protections for Muncie Students?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the bullying prevention law (IC 20-30-5-5.5)
  • the law requiring instruction regarding child abuse and child sexual abuse (IC 20-30-5-5.7)
  • the law requiring a restraint and seclusion plan intended to reduce restraint and seclusion (IC 20-20-40)
  • the law requiring instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (IC 20-30-5-20)
  • the law requiring teaching the principles of hygiene, communicable diseases and disease prevention (IC 20-30-5-9)
How Does HB 1315 Remove Accountability to the Muncie Community?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law requiring a School Corporation Annual Performance Report (IC 20-20-8)
  • the law requiring superintendent contract transparency (IC 20-26-5-4.3)
  • the law that contracts must be posted on the internet (IC 20-26-5-4.7)
  • the new law requiring a policy to check employment references (IC 20-26-5-10.5)
How Does HB 1315 Lower Basic Standards?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law requiring superintendents to have a Masters degree from an accredited institution (IC 20-26-5-4)
  • the law restricting teachers in the district from serving on the school board (IC 20-26-4-11)
  • the law requiring the singing of the national anthem (IC 20-30-3-3)
How Does HB 1315 Remove Opportunities for Grants for Student Programs?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law to receive technology grants (IC 20-20-13)
  • the law to receive arts education grants (IC 20-20-24)
  • the law to receive Alternative Education grants (IC 20-20-33)
  • the law making funds available for bilingual-bicultural programs (IC 20-30-9-13)
This isn’t right.

Ignoring these laws has nothing to do with the financial problems that Muncie is digging out of.

This appears to be one more step in the deconstruction of public education in Indiana.

In the long history of public schools in Indiana, an Indiana public school district has never been allowed to ignore the hundreds of education laws except for a cherry-picked few. It’s an ominous signal to the future of the rule of law in Indiana schools.

Ball State should actively dictate an amendment to repair these student protections or else they should withdraw from the plan. Their reputation is at stake.

It saddens me that Ball State is involved in a plan that would remove laws protecting Muncie students and the Muncie community. I am an honors graduate of Ball State, Class of 1969.

The best thing that Ball State could do is to run Muncie public schools based on the education laws that all other public school districts follow by asking for the deletion of Section 3 (c) on pages 32 and 33 in the proposed House Bill 1315ss.

What Can You Do?

If you agree that these changes are needed, please contact your House member or your State Senator this week to let them know that Muncie students should not lose the protection of the bullying prevention law or of any of the hundreds of other laws the Indiana General Assembly has passed.

This experiment to lop off hundreds of Indiana education laws makes no sense. Tell your House member and your State Senator before the May 14th special session that they must make changes to protect Muncie students and the Muncie community.

Even after a two-hour hearing today we still must ask: What is wrong with having Ball State follow the education laws of Indiana when they take over the Muncie Community public schools?

Thank you for your active support of 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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Sunday, May 6, 2018

An issue of great public interest

NEIFPE member Anne Duff discusses the privatization of Public Education in this op-ed for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

An issue of great public interest

School privatization 'madness' continues to deplete one of our communities' greatest assets
Growing up in a neighborhood where all the school-aged children walked to the nearby elementary for school every day is one of my favorite memories.

Going to school was my sanctuary. School was the place I could go where I knew adults would protect me, comfort me and even discipline me. My teachers also found in me qualities I didn't know I had – my strengths and my hidden talents they knew I could develop. My teachers made a difference in my life and became my inspiration to do the same for others. Thus, I became a teacher and then a guidance counselor because I had a passion for education and wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people, just as my teachers had done for me.

Much has changed in recent years, and I am outraged and fearful about the future of public education.

After making the decision to stay home to raise my three children, I never lost my love for my career and stayed connected to my teacher friends by volunteering and remaining in touch with what was happening in education. The more I continued to be involved in public education, the more I became bothered by the idea of the privatization of public schools. My husband read newspaper articles about education and asked my opinion as an educator. There was one recurring theme I noticed, and that was the privatization of public education.

During this stay-at-home-mom time in my life, another mom and I saw that Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education was screening two films at the Cinema Center, “Waiting for Superman” one Sunday and “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” the following Sunday. After attending the film series, we came away with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness as we became acutely aware that “education privateers” were profiting off our children.

Shortly thereafter, my friend and I attended the Omnibus Lecture Series featuring education activist Diane Ravitch. She reiterated what we had already learned: Public education is headed for privatization.

I wondered what could I do to make sure this didn't happen. How could I spread the word to others to let them know what could happen to our public schools? We decided to show “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” to our PTA. We invited two members of NEIFPE to help us facilitate the discussion afterward.

Finally, I knew that my new calling was to fight and advocate for public education.

For the past six years, I have written letters to our legislators to express my concern about their expansion of the voucher/Choice Scholarship programs. I asked our legislators to put a pause on giving tax dollars to private schools so they can evaluate the benefits of these programs as well as require both financial and instructional oversight.

With voucher expansion, our public schools lose funding. Teacher pay has remained stagnant. Children have bounced back and forth between parochial and public schools.

What happened to the stability of the quality public education system that I grew up with? What makes our legislators believe private schools can educate better when clearly public schools, educating 90 percent of our young people, are still the primary choice for families?

I am horrified that this same privatization scheme is happening at the federal level with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd. House Resolution 5199, sponsored by Banks, once again takes federal dollars from public schools to educate children at parochial and private schools.

When will this madness stop? When will our legislators, both state and federal, stop depleting funding for our public schools, the one chance where children have an equal playing field to build a better future? It is time to bring back fully funded public schools so children will get that one chance, teachers will be respected and well paid, and schools will again be the hearts of our communities.

Please join me in writing your legislators and members of the State Board of Education. Let them know our public schools matter!
Anne Duff is a member of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education and the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of Trustees.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Public Education Defenders Banding Together

NEIFPE member Phyllis Bush (with help from the NEIFPE Executive Committee) wrote this op-ed for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. In it she discusses the upcoming Special Legislative Session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Public education defenders banding together

Published: Friday, May 04, 2018 1:00 am

by Phyllis Bush and NEIFPE Executive Committee
The General Assembly will meet for a special legislative session on May 14 to discuss at least four bills that were not resolved at the end of the general session.

While these bills focus on various issues, public education advocates who follow state politics are more than a little dismayed about the reappearance of House Bill 1315 with its controversial contents. Gov. Eric Holcomb had recommended a non-controversial loan to Muncie Community Schools as part of the special session, with the rest of HB 1315 to wait until the next session. However, the leaders of the General Assembly appear to be ignoring the governor's request and plan to proceed with the bill in its original form. Two of the more troubling aspects of the bill are the loss of local control and the disregard toward teachers with the loss of collective bargaining.

HB 1315 focuses on the Muncie and Gary school corporations, which are in fiscal distress. This bill would replace the elected school board of Muncie schools with a board appointed by Ball State University and exempt said board from adhering to a host of laws affecting student learning. By setting a dangerous precedent of state takeover, this bill potentially concerns any public school district that might be in fiscal distress in the future. This bill has the potential of negatively affecting local control, teacher input and protections for students in many communities. This is not just about Muncie and Gary. Your school district could be next.

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education's concern is that legislators are not listening to the voices of their constituents and are not considering the far-reaching consequences of bringing this bill back in a way that is outside of normal legislative procedures. Add your voice.

Please encourage legislators to oppose HB 1315 in its present form.

We NEIFPE members invite people across the state to join us in collective actions to make our voices heard. We will start actions on Monday and continue through May 14. Here are our suggestions:
  • Host Postcard Meet-Ups to reach out to our legislators. You can create your own meet-up in coffee shops, homes, libraries or wherever you and your friends are comfortable. NEIFPE will provide postcard templates to help you get started.
  • Host a “Tweet-Up.” For those of you who are new to Twitter, we will provide information on how to tweet and on how to schedule tweets at your own convenience. We will also provide sample tweets. All you need is a Twitter account and internet access.
  • Send emails and place calls to legislators; these are also effective.
This is your opportunity to host your own gathering. Let our state legislators know you are paying attention. Show them you care about the issues on which they will be voting. Tell them you a want thorough discussion of the proposals.

These Meet-Up/Greet Up/Tweet Ups will be statewide actions and will tell our legislators, our friends and neighbors: “We are watching this, and we are proud to advocate for public education.”

All we need is you. We invite you to find a time when your friends, neighbors, or colleagues can make your voices heard. If you would like, please let us know (neifpe@gmail.com) where and when you are planning to host your action, and we will post that information on social media. We encourage you to take lots of pictures to post on social media and to tweet to your legislators.

Or instead you could join in with Advocates for Kids' Education, a public education advocacy group, who have already planned meet-ups in Fort Wayne.

This special session is serious business. Those of us at NEIFPE hope that you will use this time not just to voice your concerns but also to meet others who are like-minded so you can continue your advocacy together.

For more information, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NEIFPE/ or sign up for our newsletter at neifpe@gmail.com.


Phyllis Bush, a retired teacher, is a founding member of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #321 – May 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

The Special Session of the Indiana General Assembly on May 14th has turned deeply controversial. Two pillars of public education are now at stake.

The Governor had recommended a non-controversial loan to the Muncie Public Schools in the Special Session, with the rest of the controversial House Bill 1315 to wait until the next session.

The leaders of the General Assembly announced on April 20th that they will ignore the Governor and resurrect the entire controversial House Bill 1315, and they will pass it with no amendments and no public testimony in a one day session on May 14th.

Take that.

HB 1315 was the most controversial education bill of the short session.
  • It would allow non-resident outsiders to serve on the Muncie school board and to vote on raising the school taxes of residents, an historic first for Indiana.
  • It would remove the protection of the bullying prevention law from Muncie students.
  • It would remove Muncie students from coverage by the law providing for instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse.
These provisions are wrong. The bill fails the test of common sense. It must be amended.

The thought that it almost passed in this condition is disturbing. The thought that Ball State supports the bill in this condition is hard to understand. Ball State should ask for changes to follow all Indiana education laws in order to protect students or they should walk away from the plan.

Unfortunately, this controversy will no doubt be ignored in a busy election season unless public school advocates go into action by objecting to the bill forcefully to their legislators in the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate. The General Assembly leaders have the votes to ignore the Governor’s advice and do what they want, but will they regret stirring up such controversy in an election year?

That is up to you the voters and advocates.

Why Does House Bill 1315 Deserve Your Attention and Time?

Now that a month has passed since time ran out on House Bill 1315, the full extent of its experimental departure from two pillars of public education in Indiana has come into focus.

First it violates for the first time in the 180 years of Indiana public school history the requirement that every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

Second it violates for the first time the requirement that every public school district should follow the education laws of Indiana.

The Deconstruction of Public Education in Indiana: The Pillars Keep Falling

This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It represents two more steps in the drumbeat of steps to deconstruct the system of public education in Indiana.

House Bill 1315, debated in a short session without ever going through an education committee in either the House or the Senate, takes out not one but two long-standing pillars of public education in Indiana.

That is why it deserves the attention of all Hoosiers, not just those in Muncie and Gary.

Strong forces in the Indiana General Assembly favoring the privatization of our public schools have previously acted to demolish three pillars.
  • Pillar 1: Public money should not pay for private school scholarships. This pillar fell in 2009. For the first time public money was budgeted for private school scholarships through tax credits for donors to Scholarship Granting Organizations. Taxpayers will pay $12.5 million for this purpose in 2017-18.
  • Pillar 2: Public money should not go directly to private schools. This pillar fell in 2011. For the first time, the passage of the voucher law gave public money directly to private schools. Taxpayers will pay $153 million to private schools in 2017-18, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
  • Pillar 3: Voters should elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This pillar fell in 2017, in the long session of the current General Assembly. A bill passed taking the power to select the State Superintendent of Public Instruction away from voters and giving the Governor the power to appoint a secretary of education after the 2020 election. The new law does not even directly require the appointee to have K-12 experience.
Now Pillars 4 and 5 are targeted on May 14th under the plan of Speaker Bosma and President Pro Tem Long.
  • Pillar 4: Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.
The bill would allow three school board members appointed by the Ball State board of trustees to be non-residents of the school district. It would also legally end the Gary school board in favor of a board of advisors with no pathway in law to return to having a school board.

Questions flow:
  • Will non-resident outsiders really be voting to raise the school taxes of Muncie residents?
  • Will residents resent having non-residents controlling their tax levies?
  • Will residents sue and turn this issue into an expensive legal battle for Ball State and for Indiana officials?
  • Will Gary residents really be left with no school board and no legal path to restoring their school board once the emergency manager has cleaned up the mismanagement issues that put Gary in financial trouble?
No real rationale has been offered for having non-resident outsiders on the Muncie school board except a statement by Representative Tim Brown, the bill’s author, that Ball State should be able to appoint David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates to the school board.
  • Pillar 5: Every public school district should follow the education laws of Indiana.
Quoting from House Bill 1315: “the Muncie Community school corporation is subject only to the following IC 20 provisions:”, an unprecedented watershed statement followed by a list of 29 laws.

Such language has never been used for public school districts in Indiana. The bill calls it “flexibility”. It was likened in discussion of the bill to charter schools.

The list of 29 laws does not begin to capture the body of law that the General Assembly has passed in previous decades to protect students and help them achieve. Despite claims that this bill has been vetted, it deletes vital protections for Muncie students including (1) 20-30-5-5.5 bullying prevention and (2) 20-30-5-5.7 instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse.

Students in the Muncie school district will lose the protections of the bullying prevention law and the child abuse instruction law.

With these glaring problems, passage of HB 1315 in one day with no amendments would just be wrong.

Tell legislators about this problem. They apparently haven’t heard from Speaker Bosma and President Pro Tem Long that the final language of HB 1315 that nearly passed will remove these laws protecting Muncie students and many other important laws.

Questions flow again:
  • Is the Muncie Community School district now to function like a charter school with a waiver from most education laws in Indiana?
  • Shouldn’t Muncie students be protected by the laws on bullying and requiring instruction on child abuse?
  • What laws will the students and schools of Muncie be able to ignore while the schools of Richmond, Anderson and New Castle still have to follow? Is that fair?
  • If it is deemed acceptable for Muncie students to be educated without regard to most Indiana education laws, why is it not acceptable for all public school districts to operate in the same way?
  • Is the Indiana General Assembly saying that the education laws of Indiana are no longer needed or wanted for a public school district to thrive?
This is an astounding claim to say that Muncie schools need only 29 of the hundreds of Indiana education laws to function under the control of Ball State.

While the General Assembly leaders have said this bill was vetted in the House and the Senate, the many questions about operating Muncie schools without regard to Indiana law were never reviewed by the education committees of either the House or the Senate, only the finance committees. That is not a proper review in a short session for a bill that brings into question the need for the entire list of education laws in Indiana.

What Can You Do?

This controversy will get little attention from the press during an important election season. Public school advocates need to speak up anyway.
  • Contact your Senator and your member of the House to let them know you oppose any public school district being run by non-resident board members and being untethered from state education laws that all other public school districts must follow, such as the bullying prevention law.
  • Since this is election season and candidates for the Indiana House and Indiana Senate are making many public appearances, ask them in their public forums whether they support the two precedents of (1) having non-resident outsiders serve on the Muncie school board who can vote on property tax levies for residents and (2) suspending state education laws in the Muncie public schools.
  • Share these concerns with friends and colleagues willing to contact their legislators before May 14th.
Public education will remain in jeopardy until candidates and voters in election campaigns make it clear that the deconstruction of our system of public education in Indiana and in the nation is unacceptable and is damaging to students and to our democracy.

Thank you for your active support of public education in these challenging times.

Keep doing what democracy needs!

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 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

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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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