Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vic's Statehouse Notes #219 – April 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

Keep up the messages opposing Senate Bill 1, which removes the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board of Education. Your drumbeat of opposition is making a difference.

At today’s 10am Conference Committee meeting on Senate Bill 1, Senator Holdman unveiled a proposed conference committee report that mitigated the worst partisan move in the bill. It no longer would change the power of the State Superintendent in the middle of the electoral term. Instead, the chair would be chosen by the other board members after December 31, 2016, after the 2016 election.

While this was a small gain in the proposed compromise, the bad news is that new language has been added that would give additional powers to the State Board. Representative Austin stated in discussion that the proposal to make the State Board an educational authority "within the meaning of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act" had been voted down in House Bill 1072. Under current rules, a rejected proposal is not to be brought back in a conference committee.

Senator Holdman said he would look into that.

This bill is not done. More messages opposing SB 1 would help. The bill is unnecessary. It diminishes the power of the elected State Superintendent. If you have not yet contacted your legislators about Senate Bill 1, please do so tonight or tomorrow.

Appointment Powers

Senator Holdman's compromise plan is to have nine members on the State Board, instead of the current eleven. The Governor would appoint six, of which four must be experienced educators defined as having at least 5 years of professional experience in education and no more than four can be of the same political party. The Speaker and the President Pro Tem would each appoint one. The State Superintendent would be the ninth.

As Senator Lanane analyzed the numbers in today’s meeting, the plan would result under our current circumstances in a board with six Republicans and three Democrats.

No Qualifications Listed for the New Chair

This bill has ignored addressing the qualifications of the chair of the State Board that under SB 1 would succeed the State Superintendent. For 102 years, by having the State Superintendent chair the State Board, the citizens of Indiana have been guaranteed that the chair of the State Board is thoroughly knowledgeable about the schools of Indiana from personal experience. Now SB 1 proposes a new chair with no qualifications stated who would now become the most powerful policy leader in education. This person should be an experienced professional educator with deep experience in Indiana.

Is the supermajority proposing in this bill that the most powerful policy leader in education in Indiana could be a non-educator without personal experience in teaching or administration? That is where it now stands. I hope you will ask legislators to fix this flaw in the bill, if they don’t withdraw the bill altogether.

New Language

While the delayed implementation of demoting the State Superintendent as chair was welcome, it came at the same time new language was proposed that has not been considered before in this session. This is very late in the process to be starting new language, especially language that leaves lots of questions.

One new section regarding plans for a turnaround school reads "The state board may require the department to report to the state board regarding implementation of a recommended plan." Does the State Board expect noncompliance if they ask the IDOE for a report? Is this language assuming confrontation?

Another new section regarding ISTEP says the state board shall "authorize and approve the development and establishment of passing scores." Does this mean the State Board staff can wrest the management of setting the cut scores away from the IDOE testing staff who have supervised the setting of cut scores since Public Law 221 began in 1999?

We don’t need last minute controversies about giving the State Board new powers. We don’t need Senate Bill 1.

Send a Message to Members of the Conference Committee

If you have not already done so, send a message to the conference committee members.

The Senate Conferees are Senator Holdman, chair of the committee, and Senator Lanane.

The House Conferees are Representative McMillin and Representative Vernon Smith.

Senate Advisors on the Committee are Senators Kenley, Breaux, Rogers, Kruse and Yoder.

House Advisors on the Committee are Representatives Behning, Cook, McNamara, Austin, Errington and Moed.

The easiest way to email committee members is to go the Indiana General Assembly website and click on the Conference Committee on Senate Bill 1. When the committee information comes up, each member is pictured on the left. Clicking on each picture allows you to send an email to each member. Click here for the Conference Committee page.

Then send a message to your legislators since all will be voting on Senate Bill 1 at least by Wednesday, the last day of the session.

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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