Friday, February 22, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #120– February 22, 2013

Dear Friends,

House members will vote Monday on House Bill 1337, a massive partisan rewrite of the bipartisan Public Law 221 which has governed Indiana’s accountability program since 1999. Public education advocates should tell House members this weekend that passing the voucher bill is enough damage to public schools in one session. They should call a halt and defeat House Bill 1337.

House Bill 1337 in any normal year should be the center of discussion and debate in non-partisan forums to direct the next generation of Indiana’s accountability program to replace the 1999 bipartisan reform, Public Law 221. Instead, House Bill 1337 was squeezed through the education committee on the last possible day with very little attention or debate, and certainly with no bipartisan support. It would:
1) let the State Board empower turnaround academies to become independent schools with the status of a new, small school district with an appointed school board, not elected. This fragmentation contradicts recent efforts to consolidate small school districts into bigger districts.

2) remove “improvement” as the stated goal of PL 221, replacing it with “performance.” This is a major philosophical change from the 1999 bipartisan reform.

3) require science assessments to be included in high stakes school letter grade decisions by 2014-15. The testing budget has not been increased to pay for this.

4) delete well-known PL 221 language we have had since 1999 saying results should be adjusted “for student mobility” and saying “Compare each school and each school corporation with its own prior performance and not to the performance of other schools or other corporations.” This latter deletion would open the door to assessing students compared to peers which has been at the heart of the failure of the current A-F system.
These objections just scratch the surface. This massive 43-page bill has not been fully vetted.

Ask your House member, especially if they let you down and voted for the voucher bill, if they would please stop further confusion and turmoil in our public schools by deferring this complete rewrite of our entire accountability program to another session when broad based discussions about changing our accountability system can be held. House Bill 1337 is a partisan law that few have even seen or discussed.

Enough is enough!

Please talk to members of the House about your opposition to HB 1337 in “Third House” and “Crackerbarrel” meetings this weekend, or through phone calls and emails. The final vote will be on Monday, February 25th.

Thanks for all of your efforts on behalf of public schools!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose privatization of schools in the Statehouse. To keep our outstanding lobbyist Joel Hand in place, who spoke against provisions of HB 1137 that allow for-profit companies to take over public schools and make a profit using the buildings still owned and maintained by the public school board, we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education. Please join us!

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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