Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #102– December 19, 2012

Dear Friends,

Dr. Bennett is trying to rewrite the history of full day kindergarten in Indiana in his final weeks in office.

Perhaps you received the press release that came out from Dr. Bennett’s office on December 10th on the status of full day kindergarten. The first two paragraphs appeared as follows:
PRESS RELEASE                                       Media Contact: Stephanie Sample
For Immediate Release                                                         (317) 232-6615
Monday, December 10, 2012                              

Full Day Kindergarten Funding More than Doubles

State funding for full day kindergarten increased by $107.9 million for the 2012-2013 school year, reaching a total of $189.8 million. The funds will be distributed December 14 to 338 public school corporations and charter schools for the 79,110 students who enrolled in full day kindergarten programs this year. In 2011-2012, 66,401students were enrolled in full day kindergarten programs, with a total state funding distribution of $81.9 million.

This year’s rapid increase in enrollment and funding is the result of 2012 legislation spearheaded by Governor Mitch Daniels and passed by Indiana lawmakers to guarantee $2,400 per full day kindergarten student. The funding is provided through the Full Day Kindergarten Grant, which was created in 2005 and represents one of the key education policies in the Governor’s first term.
Dr. Bennett’s ode to the legacy of Governor Daniels suffers from a crucial problem.

It isn’t true.

The Full Day Kindergarten Grant was created in 2001 during the second term of Gov. Frank O’Bannon. Documentation copied from the 2001 budget (HEA 1001) is here.

I observed the major legislative battle over full day kindergarten funding in the 1999 session. After much debate, many rallies, an opposing Senate “cafeteria plan” and high expectations that $110 million dollars would be included in the budget for full day kindergarten, it all collapsed in the final days of the session. By 2001, the recession had undermined revenue to the point that no serious effort to fund full day kindergarten was debated in the 2001 session. “There was no money.” Unexpectedly, in the final version of the 2001 budget, a $10 million “Full Day Kindergarten Grant” appeared and the program was started, as attached.

In the post 9/11 recession, serious revenue shortfalls led Governor O’Bannon to cut 15% from most line item programs, lowering the Full Day Kindergarten Grant to $8.5 million. That is the level that was funded in the 2003 budget and again in 2005, Gov. Daniels’ first budget.

Credit for starting the Full Day Kindergarten Grant in 2001, as I recall the story, was attributed to the final conference committee negotiations between Rep. Bauer and Sen. Borst, no doubt influenced and supported by Gov. O’Bannon, who had made a strong push for full day kindergarten in the 1999 battle. Sen. Borst was said to be favorably influenced to support full day kindergarten by his daughter, a dedicated and successful early childhood teacher and later administrator in MSD Perry Township.

Let the historical record stand corrected.

To me, the most interesting part of this episode is that it reflects the ongoing, constant effort to “enhance the brand” of reformers. Governor Daniels has created in Indiana an educational marketplace of schools, and in a marketplace, marketing is everything. Attention to marketing schools is now a bigger priority for school survival than attention to curriculum or instruction.

An example of this was seen in the December 5th State Board of Education meeting, when Charter Schools USA brought a national leader in school reform, Jeanne Allen, well known founder of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, DC, to the state board meeting to defend their reputation. She had visited the takeover schools in Indianapolis and reassured the State Board that all was well. This headed off any questions that might have been expected about the parent protest at Howe High School in September or the subsequent firing of a co-principal at Howe. Charter Schools USA used a skillful marketing technique to protect their reputation with the State Board. In this educational climate, it’s all about marketing.

No doubt more people have seen the incorrect assertion than Gov. Daniels started the Full Day Kindergarten Grant than will see this correction. Marketing wins again.

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

Many thanks to all who participated in the “Do It Now Challenge” to join or renew memberships in the Indiana Coalition for Public Education! We had a good response, but more members are needed to have the voice in the Statehouse that we need. I urge you to share this invitation to support ICPE with your public education friends. I have attached another membership form as a convenience. Go to for more information.

I wish you a great holiday and I look forward to working with you to support public education in 2013.

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.

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