Friday, April 17, 2015

Vic's Statehouse Notes #216 – April 16, 2015

Dear Friends,

The Senate passed their version of the budget yesterday (April 15th) by a vote of 42-8.

It includes a number of differences from the House budget, including disbanding Indiana’s Education Roundtable and shrinking the budget for the State Board of Education from $3 million to $750,000 per year. Reconciling differences between the two versions in a Conference Committee begins on Friday.

Giving more money to private school vouchers by removing the $4800 cap on Grade 1-8 vouchers is still in the Senate version, just as Governor Pence requested.

Today in a Statehouse press conference, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability issued a new report saying "None of the independent studies performed of the most lauded and long-standing voucher programs in the U.S – Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington, D. C.- found any statistical evidence that children who used vouchers performed better than children in public school."

I urge you to review the full report attached and the press release showing key findings of this excellent report. Then contact Governor Pence and members of the General Assembly to express your opposition to spending additional public tax money on private school vouchers.

Who Prepared the Report?

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability is, in the words of the press release, "a bipartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy think tank that works across ideological lines to promote social and economic justice." They have worked extensively on educational policy and on economic issues. CTBA is located in Chicago.

Ralph Matire, Executive Director of CTBA presented the report in today’s press conference in the South Atrium of the Statehouse. He graduated from Indiana University Phi Beta Kappa and holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan.

Key Findings

A sampling from the introduction:

"The goal is to answer two key questions about the Indiana Choice Legislation as objectively as possible.

First, does the actual documented track record of existing voucher programs demonstrate that those programs in fact achieved the desired goal of enhancing student achievement? Here, the short and clear answer is no.

Second, can voucher programs be expected to enhance student performance or improve public education systems, based on the education reforms implemented in the nations that currently rank in the top five in the world in reading, math and science under PISA? Again, based on the evidence, the answer is no.

In fact, it appears that core aspects of Indiana's voucher program are directly contrary to best practice education reforms implemented by the five global leaders in education: Korea, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada." (Page 3 of the report)

Other key findings:

"One probable consequence of the Indiana Choice Legislation, therefore, will be the diversion of public, taxpayer dollars away from the state's higher performing public education system to lower performing private religious schools. Because of this, the Indiana Voucher Legislation may actually diminish student achievement in the state over time." (Page 3)

"The nations that have been most successful in improving student achievement over time have focused on systems-based reforms that build capacity of the overall education system and have eschewed reforms based on competition and choice. Meanwhile, nations that have taken the competition choice path to education reform have failed to realize enhanced student achievement." (Page 3)

"Subsidizing individual decisions that do not generate a public good or service—even legitimate ones well within the rights of, in this case, the parents making them—is an inappropriate use of public money." (Page 4)

"The School Expenditure Deduction will cause local governments across Indiana to lose up to $1.4 million annually in Local Option Income Tax revenue, thereby constraining their ability to provide police, fire, trash collection and other core local services to constituents. This is difficult to justify, given that the public revenue spent to subsidize private decisions under the School Expenditure Deduction serves no identifiable public interest." (Page 4)

Share the Report and Talk with Legislators

This is an excellent detailed report about the link between vouchers and student achievement and about using public money for public purposes and not to subsidize private choices that would be made anyway. I hope you will read it and share it with others.

Then I hope you share again with legislators your belief that public money should be focused on public education. Spending even more public money on private school vouchers in the new budget is going in the wrong direction.

Thanks for your strong advocacy for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“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 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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