Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #109– January 31, 2013

Dear Friends,

At yesterday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, Sen. Kruse announced that no vote would be taken on the voucher expansion bill, SB 184. Channel 13 had a report that Sen. Kruse was planning to hold the bill indefinitely.

At Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting, the bill saying that a superintendent of schools should not be required to hold a teacher’s license or a superintendent’s license, House Bill 1357, passed the committee on a party line vote.

Senate Education Committee – January 30, 2013

Success in the legislative process is never assessed until the session adjourns. Many concepts once thought dead have been revived in other bills, especially in the budget bill which will mostly take shape in April. Given that caution, the news about expanding vouchers in Senate Bill 184 is good news for public school advocates. Chairman Kruse is holding the bill. It remains to be seen whether he will decide to resurrect it.

Certainly your letters, calls and emails against SB 184 have made a difference and will continue to make a difference. As you contact Senators, keep speaking up against SB 184. The most visible opponent of the concept of expanding vouchers to make more students eligible and adding new fiscal costs to the state has been Senator Kenley. He certainly deserves notes of thanks for taking a strong position.

The Senate Education Committee then passed SB 465 (Indiana works councils) by an 8-0 vote. Senator Kruse announced that SB 330 (School accreditation) heard on Jan. 23rd and SB 345 (Use of restraints and seclusion in schools) heard on Jan. 30th would be voted on in two weeks. He said the meeting on Feb. 13th would be devoted to higher education bills. Hearings were also held on SB 352 (School policies on gang activities), SB 418 (Financial literacy instruction) and SB 364 (Education funding for children in residential care). SB 193 (Common core) which was never scheduled for a vote after the Jan. 16th hearing was not mentioned.

House Education Committee – January 29, 2013 and January 31, 2013

Tuesday morning’s debate in the House Education Committee on HB 1357 which would remove the need for a superintendent to have a teacher’s license or a superintendent’s license encapsulated the current generational debate on standards and deregulation.

Rep. Huston presented this bill as an effort to let each local school board “hire who they believe is best” to be superintendent. He said we shouldn’t “tie their hands about how far they can cast the net.” Rep. Arnold asked if some educational levels needed to be added to the bill since by taking away licensing requirements, a local board could hire under this law a high school drop out to be superintendent. Rep. Huston responded that each board could determine the education level that a superintendent needed and that if a local board made a “poor decision” that they would surely be “defeated in the next election.” Rep. Thompson held up Glenda Ritz as an example of someone who could serve as a local superintendent who doesn’t have a superintendent’s license. Rep. Arnold called this bill “a good free-market plan.”

On the opposing side, Rep. Smith, who trains school administrators at IU-Northwest, registered strong objections. He said this would dilute the profession and that more training, not less, is needed now that teacher and principal evaluations have been given more weight under recent legislation. Rep. Vandenburgh asked “Don’t we set the standards for the state?” She said that those who had never been a teacher could never understand the school sufficiently to lead as superintendent.

In public testimony, opposition was expressed by John Barnes (IDOE), Sally Sloan (IFT), Chuck Little (IUSA), Steve Gookins (IAPSS), John O’Neil (ISTA) and me. My testimony can be found HERE for those who want more details. I strongly opposed the bill, focusing on the history of this issue when licensing superintendents was a reform to end cronyism and nepotism in local school administration.

Derek Redelman (Indiana Chamber) was the only member of the public to testify in favor of the bill.

In the vote, all nine Republicans agreed that a superintendent of schools should not be required to hold a teacher’s license or a superintendent’s license, and all four Democrats disagreed.

In the same meeting, House Bill 1341 (Electronic transcripts) passed 13-0.

In the meeting today, January 31st, House Bill 1443 (Teacher Loan Repayment) was heard but no vote will be taken until an amendment is prepared for next Tuesday’s meeting, February 5th. A major bill on charter schools --House Bill 1338 -- will also be heard on Tuesday. The meeting will begin at 8:30am.

Thanks for your support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education in the Statehouse. 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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