Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #136– April 22, 2013

Dear Friends,

Sadly I must report that today the House passed the bill saying that neither a teacher license nor a superintendent license are needed to be a superintendent in Indiana, House Bill 1357. The final vote was 55-40. Since the House concurred with the Senate version, the bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

House Bill 1357

The Senate added the requirement that to be a superintendent, the candidate must hold a Masters degree in any subject. The House had passed the first version of the bill 58-40 allowing anyone to be a superintendent, even those with no college degree.

The deconstruction of the education profession in Indiana continues. Principals can now brace for evaluations by superintendents who have never been a principal. University programs set up to train high quality superintendents are likely to die on the vine. Look for excellent superintendents to leave the state to find a climate which respects the special training needed to be a successful superintendent.

I happened to see Sen. Leising after the vote. She recounted the story that she had to leave the Education Committee meeting on the day of the vote on HB 1357 in order to present a detailed bill she was sponsoring in another committee. The bill ended up passing the committee 6-5. She said she would have voted “no” making the sixth vote against the bill and killing it 6-6. The bill survived for a floor vote several days later, which turned out to be a 25-25 tie, leading to a rare tie-breaking vote by Lt. Gov. Ellspermann to pass the bill 26-25. Of course, such details won’t matter in the days ahead when Indiana’s reputation will be established nationwide as a place that doesn’t respect the need for training to be a superintendent.

House Bill 1338 – Now the Home of One Version of A-F Revision Language

The conference committee meeting was held this morning (Monday) on HB 1338, charter school administration. The major news is that Rep. Behning offered amendment #17 as the basis for a conference committee report which inserted his version of the revised A-F system to grade schools. The revision would put the “A” through “F” labels for schools in law. Currently, the State Board of Education decides on the names for the categories and puts them in rules. Copies of the amendment were not distributed to the audience and I could not get a copy later today, so further analysis of the A-F proposal will have to wait until a copy is available.

It should be noted that even though the main part of the bill is about charter school changes, the proposed A-F system would apply to all schools.

Sen. Kruse, the Senate conferee, quickly said he would agree to Rep. Behning’s proposal. Rep. Vernon Smith, the House Democrat conferee, objected to putting the A-F labels in law, noting that State Superintendent Ritz has another plan which involved two grades, one for proficiency and one for growth. He urged her participation in determining the next set of metrics for school grades. Sen. Rogers, the Senate Democrat conferee, strongly opposed the codification of A-F labels, saying that her constituents do not understand the A-F labels and she wants a system that has bipartisan support as we had in 1999 at the outset of the Public Law 221.

The Senate version of the A-F revisions is found in HB 1427, which outlines a two part grade for both proficiency and growth in an amendment written by Sen. Kenley. State Superintendent has had some input on the language of the Senate amendment. HB 1427 has not been scheduled for a conference committee yet. It also includes language on a review of the Common Core. Since time is marching on, it is possible that Rep. Behning’s language on A-F in HB 1338 will become the only game in town on that topic.

House Bill 1003 – Voucher Expansion

One story that I heard today is that Speaker Bosma wants to finish all work on Thurday, April 25th, a day earlier than he announced in press reports last week. If this is true, it seems hard to see how the voucher expansion bill will have time to go back through both houses in a new form. The more likely scenario is that the House will decide to take a concurrence vote on the Senate version, which would only take one more vote.

Given this possibility, your messages opposing voucher expansion should focus on House members. The bill has changed in the Senate, and House members may not agree with the changes summed up in the following points:
  • For the first time, the voucher program uses the seriously flawed A-F system to pass out vouchers. That is wrong.
  • It entwines federal special education money with private school special education services and new regulations for monitoring such services. Yet state regulation of private schools is illegal under the 2011 voucher law. The current language will be vulnerable to lawsuits.
  • The final product could seriously undermine tuition support payments to public and charter schools, with estimates of the loss ranging from 19% to 90%. This is totally unacceptable. However much legislators may support the concept of vouchers, they should not let these major unpredictable cuts go through to hurt public and charter schools.
  • All of these issues should be studied in an interim study committee and not implemented at this time.
The passion that you bring these points to House members in the next two days will make all the difference in the final outcome.
These talking points should be shared with the 57 Republican Representatives who voted yes: Representatives Arnold, Baird, Behning, Braun, T. Brown, Burton, Carbaugh, Cherry, Crouch, Culver, Davis, Davisson, DeVon, Eberhart, Friend, Frizzell, Frye, Gutwein, Hamm, Harman, Heaton, Heuer, Huston, Karickhoff, Kirchhofer, Kubacki, Lehe, Lehman, Leonard, Lucas, Lutz, Mayfield, McMillin, Messmer, Morris, Morrison, Negele, Niemeyer, Ober, Pond, Price, Richardson, Slager, Smaltz, M. Smith, Speedy, Steuerwald, Thompson, Torr, Turner, Ubelhor, VanNatter, Washburne, Wesco, Zent, Ziemke and Speaker Bosma

Thanks for your work on behalf of the one million plus public school students of Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose privatization of schools in the Statehouse. I keep hearing reports that some public school supporters read these “Notes” with great interest but don’t translate that interest into joining ICPE. To keep our outstanding lobbyist Joel Hand in place, who is working hard against voucher expansion during conference committees, we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education. Please join us! Thanks to all who have joined or sent extra donations recently!

Go to www.icpe2011.com 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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