Friday, January 25, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #107– January 25, 2013

Dear Friends,

Once again, Senator Kruse announced in Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting that the vote on the voucher expansion bill (Senate Bill 184) would be delayed for a week (until Jan. 30th) at the request of the sponsor, Senator Yoder. This provides more time at “Third House” meetings this Saturday and through emails and phone calls to let legislators hear how public school advocates deeply oppose this bill.

It is indeed unusual for a committee vote on any bill to be delayed for two weeks. I can’t remember a similar delay since Senator Kruse became chair of the committee. Without having any inside knowledge, the delayed vote is a clear indication that the sponsor is still looking for enough support for the bill to pass out of the committee.

Fiscal Cost

This is not the time to let down on contacting Senators. While Governor Pence supported voucher expansion in his State of the State address last Tuesday, many Senators are concerned about the fiscal cost. According to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency fiscal note on SB 184, the first year of the voucher program moved $15.6 million from public school tuition to private school tuition and the second year diverted $35.9 million. Most of that taxpayer money was going to pay for religious educations. Only 6 of the 289 private schools accepting vouchers are non-religious, non-sectarian schools.

Now with SB 184, a whole new element is proposed: Giving vouchers to students who have never been in public schools, ending the “vouchers save dollars” policy and adding a new fiscal cost to taxpayers. Some students would become eligible for a voucher who have been in private schools for years. It is one more step on the road to a universal voucher, the ultimate goal of voucher proponents, a goal that would eventually undermine and marginalize the non-partisan, non-sectarian public schools that for over a hundred years have brought people from all walks of life together in our communities and have undergirded our democracy with citizenship education and our economy with college and career readiness.

Public education advocates know what is at stake here and should keep up the drumbeat to oppose any expansion of vouchers. The media have casually speculated that voucher expansion would easily pass in this General Assembly, but then the media also speculated that Tony Bennett would defeat Glenda Ritz.

Contact Senators

Let’s go to work one more week to defeat Senate Bill 184, starting with Saturday’s “Third House” and “Crackerbarrel” meetings with legislators in your county.

Again, the Senators on the committee to contact are as follows:

Chair: Sen. Kruse

Republican Members: Senators Yoder, Banks, Buck, Kenley, Pete Miller, Leising and Schneider

Democrat Members: Senators Rogers, Broden, Mrvan, Taylor

Keep up the good work for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education in the Statehouse as efforts are made this week to expand vouchers. We are well represented by our lobbyist Joel Hand, but to keep him in place we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education.

Go to for membership and renewal information.

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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