Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Vic's Statehouse Notes #215 – April 7, 2015

Dear Friends,

The bill to remove State Superintendent Ritz as chair of the State Board of Education, Senate Bill 1, will be given a public hearing this Thursday, April 9th at 8:30am in Room 156C of the Statehouse.

This highly controversial bill diminishing the powers of the elected State Superintendent has been ignored in recent weeks during the highly controversial debates over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Now at the end of today's House Education Committee meeting, Chairman Behning said Senate Bill 1 will be heard on Thursday.

If you have strong feelings about this bill and reducing the powers of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, you should come to testify on Thursday or send messages to members of the House Education Committee before the meeting.

Add Your Voice to the Testimony on Thursday

Over a thousand people came to an impressive rally on February 16th in support of public education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. If you were among those who came, you should consider coming back to testify against this bill.

Any citizen can testify. You simply need to sign in before the meeting begins at 8:30am on the form provided for those who wish to speak. The time may be inconvenient and the notice is short, but that is the way the General Assembly operates. I hope you will decide to make your opinions known to the legislators.

Update on Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1609

The House and the Senate passed differing bills removing the elected State Superintendent as chair of the State Board of Education. I and many others opposed both bills, but both were passed in the first half of the session.

House Bill 1609 did not get a hearing in the Senate and died. Senate Bill 1 is the only bill left on this topic.

House Bill 1609 left the other appointments to the State Board in the hands of the Governor, as it is now. Senate Bill 1 changed the appointment of the State Board to give the Governor four appointments, the Speaker of the House two appointments, and the President Pro Tem of the Senate two appointments. The State Superintendent would be the ninth and final member of the board. Senate Bill 1 changed the size of the State Board from 11 to 9. It is expected that the House Committee will further amend the Senate plan on Thursday after the public hearing.

Talking Points

Many people are deeply concerned about this proposed change in the powers of the State Superintendent and already have their list of talking points. Here are other points against this bill:
1) It is not fair to the voters in our democracy to change the powers of an office during the term of the office. This is just plain wrong. Any changes should be implemented after the next election. This bill would clearly diminish our democracy and the powers of voters.

2) This bill overturns long historical power allocations. The State Superintendent has chaired the State Board of Education since 1913.

3) This bill overturns the will of 1.3 million voters who elected Glenda Ritz thinking she would chair the State Board as part of her elected duties.

4) This bill diminishes the powers given to the State Superintendent because her policies oppose in many ways the policies of Governor Pence. This bill is to make sure the Governor's policies prevail, but that undermines the will of the voters who endorsed the policies of Superintendent Ritz in the 2012 election.

5) Under current law, voters choose the chair of the State Board of Education by electing the State Superintendent. This bill gives the power to choose the chair to appointees on the State Board. Senate Bill 1 directly reduces the power of voters.

6) Diminishing the powers of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is an obvious symbol of diminishing Indiana’s priority on public education, in line with the Governor's policies to promote private schools.
You can add many other talking points as you communicate with members of the House about Senate Bill 1.

Come One, Come All!

Come to the public hearing on Thursday at 8:30am if you can. Legislators need to hear from those who have been deeply offended by this move to ignore the will of the voters in our democracy and win the policy debates by removing the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. When the voters spoke in the 2012 election, they did not expect to be ignored and disrespected in the ensuing policy debates as this bill implies.

If you can't come in person, please communicate with members of the House Education Committee before Thursday morning.

Let your voice be heard.

Once again, an easy way to contact members of the committee is to go to the Indiana General Assembly website and click on Committees, then on Standing Committees, and then on the name of the committee. The pictures of committee members appear on the left. As you click on each picture, an email form comes up that you can use to register your concerns with each member.

[Click HERE to go to the House Education Committee page]

Thanks for your strong advocacy for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support the ICPE lobbying efforts. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, 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 now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. 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 www.icpe2011.com 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. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.


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