Monday, April 28, 2014

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #16– April 28, 2014

Dear Friends,

Budgets tell the true story of priorities for schools. The most recent state budget in 2013 showed that Representative Behning favored private school funding over public school funding.

He successfully fought for increases in private school voucher payments that doubled the percentage increases for public schools.

His favoritism has damaged public school funding for the one million public school students in Indiana.

Michael Scott, a conservative Republican running against Representative Behning in the May 6th Republican primary election, wants to stop the attacks on public education.

Michael Scott deserves the vote of all who support public education.

[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

The 2013 Budget: The Story of Budget Priorities

Representative Behning, while he didn’t control the budget, supported and voted for an extremely low increase in public school funding in the 2013 budget. For 2013-14, the statewide increase was 2%, and for the 2014-15 school year starting this July, the statewide increase was only 1%, less than the 1.6% increase in the cost of living cited by legislators.

This low funding level following four years of funding cuts during the Great Recession has left many school districts in a financial bind, prompting Decatur Township Schools in Representative Behning’s District 91, among other school districts, to schedule a referendum to seek additional property tax support just to maintain basic services.

For private schools, however, Representative Behning did not favor the same low funding levels. He was the in control of the voucher expansion as the sponsor of the bill, and he fought hard to boost the voucher amount by 4% in 2013-14 (from $4500 to $4700) and by 2% in 2014-15 (from $4700 to $4800). These are double the funding increases given to public schools.

Representative Behning didn’t control the budget, but he did vote for it. On the voucher increase, however, he was in charge. It was his bill, and he worked hard to increase the voucher amount.

The voucher bill he first introduced in 2013 tells voters where his heart is. Unbelievably, he actually introduced bill language to increase vouchers by 22% in the first year (from $4500 to $5500) and by another 18% in the second year of the budget (from $5500 to $6500). His introduced bill would also have raised income levels eligible to receive vouchers up to $105,000 for a family of four for some categories of students, hardly a program for low income families as it was portrayed when vouchers were first approved by the General Assembly. The legislature trimmed his proposal back, but still he successfully passed increases double those in the budget for public schools.

He would like to expand voucher funding more in the next budget. Will the voters let him? The voters, as always, determine the policies of our democracy.

Representative Behning won’t fight like this for public schools, only private schools.

Michael Scott has said its time to support public education. He opposes private school vouchers.

It is time for a change.

Public education advocates in District 91 have a candidate in Michael Scott who will support public education.

Please support Michael Scott in the May 6th primary election for the District 91 seat in the Indiana House. His website for more information or to support his campaign with a donation is:

Thanks for working to support public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

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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