Monday, January 27, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #168 – January 27, 2014

Dear Friends,

I am happy to report that I believe your notes and emails last night and this morning on House Bill 1320 made a difference. In the House Education Committee meeting this morning, Chairman Behning opened up discussion of his bill by saying that what he meant all along would be that the Indiana Department of Education would improve access to student records, not the State Board of Education. He offered an amendment to HB 1320 that took out every reference to “State Board” actions and replaced each reference with “Indiana Department of Education.” His amendment was approved.

Then at the end of the testimony, Chairman Behning held the bill and did not take a vote.

His actions this morning have at least for now taken student test records out of the center of a potential conflict between the Indiana Department of Education controlled by State Superintendent Ritz and the State Board of Education controlled by Governor Pence.

I want to thank all those who sent last minute messages to legislators on HB 1320.

Access to Student Records

What is left in HB 1320 is an effort to improve access to student records to help parents and to help schools that need the records of transfer students. No one appeared this morning to support that concept or to explain why what we are doing now is inadequate. For the $3.7 million dollar price tag, legislators need to know that this is a high priority, so that they might support the expenditure of that much money when they have found no money for several years to support teacher professional development.

Even the Senator Ford Technology Fund which provides money in the state budget to schools statewide for much-needed technology and computer upgrades is funded at only $3.1 million each year. The General Assembly for reasons hard to understand in this age of technology has actually reduced technology funding for several budgets in a row.

Chairman Behning also added Rep. Thompson’s bill on data security to HB 1320. That amendment was taken by consent.

The future of HB 1320 needs to be tracked. At least for now, student data records are not the center of a dispute over the authority of the Indiana Department of Education. That is definitely good news.

Thank you for your messages to legislators in support of wise policies and strong public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The 2014 session of the General Assembly has begun. Joel Hand will again serve as ICPE lobbyist for the session. We need your membership to help support his work. Many have renewed their memberships this fall, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

As the session begins, ICPE has about half of what we will need to fund our lobbying efforts, a vast improvement over previous sessions in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when we started from zero each session. With your membership support, we have raised the money each session, and we must do so again. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

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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