Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #224 – August 26, 2015

Dear Friends,

Glenda Ritz has accepted our invitation to speak at our first ICPE membership meeting on August 29th at 2pm.

It will be held in the Washington Township Community and Education Center at the corner of 86th Street and Woodfield Crossing in Indianapolis.

Can you join us to hear the latest update by Glenda Ritz on education issues in Indiana after an eventful summer?

Can you join us to hear the newest data on improvement in Indiana’s public schools as I unveil the new edition of “A 25 Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools“?

I hope to see you on Saturday.

The Changing Landscape in the Race for Governor

Based on the crucial power of the Governor to lift or degrade public education in Indiana, the ICPE board instituted a plan to invite all candidates for Governor to discuss the future of public education in a series of seven meetings this fall. On July 20th, letters were mailed to all four candidates: Mike Pence, John Gregg, Glenda Ritz and Karen Tallian.

Much has happened since.

On August 7th, Glenda Ritz announced she is leaving the race for Governor and instead will run for reelection as State Superintendent. A few days later she endorsed John Gregg.

On August 17th, Karen Tallian announced she is leaving the race for Governor and endorsed John Gregg.

Mike Pence has not responded to our invitation.

John Gregg has said in a television interview that he and Glenda Ritz are running as a team and that she will be his “point person” on education policy. At our meeting on Saturday, Glenda Ritz presumably will be able to comment for herself and for John Gregg on our six questions regarding the future of public education:

1. As Governor, what priority would you give to public education in Indiana and what priority would you give to providing public funding to private schools?

2. As Governor, would you work to expand or to curtail the choice scholarship voucher program, now using public money to pay for 29,000 private school vouchers? What steps would you take to expand or reduce the program?

3. As Governor, would you work to expand or to reduce the Scholarship Granting Organization tax credit program? Would you support or oppose an escalator clause giving higher state funding to SGO tax credits automatically if donation levels reach certain goals?

4. What role do you see for public schools in holding communities together and supporting the civic participation of young citizens in our democracy? How is that role changing as our public school system in Indiana is increasingly privatized?

5. How would you change the role of high stakes testing in Indiana to allow for more instructional time and to promote attention to subjects other than the tested subjects of language arts and math? What is your position on parents opting out of testing?

6. How would you address the current duplication of services between the State Board of Education staff and the Indiana Department of Education staff?

Join us on August 29th and get involved in the battle to save and restore public education.

“A 25-Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools” – The New Report

Did you know that the graduation rate for the public schools of the state of Indiana leaped up to 89.8% for the Class of 2014, the most recent year reported?

That is up 1.5% above the Class of 2013.

That is only a fraction shy of the 90% goal that has been talked about for years.

That is nearly 14% higher than the 2006 figure using the new four years or less methodology when the first result was 76.1%.

That is way above the figure frequently shown this summer in advertisements for WFYI Channel 20’s American Graduate Project which claimed Indiana’s graduation rate to be 76% and listed all the benefits that would happen if we could lift our graduation rate to 90%.

Someone should tell Channel 20 the news is better than they think.

Through all the controversies and all the efforts to diminish the work of public school educators, the public schools of Indiana have continued to steadily and methodically improve over the past 25 years. The evidence is clear.

This and other points of improvement are found in the latest edition of my annual report entitled “A 25 Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools” which will be unveiled at the August 29th ICPE membership meeting at the Dean Evans Center.

This report as well as information about the important report critical of Indiana’s voucher program released by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability last April will follow the presentation by Glenda Ritz.

Saving public education and restoring it to a high priority will take all of us who are dedicated to the mission of an excellent public education available to all students.

I hope you will join us on Saturday, August 29th at 2pm at the Dean Evans Center. If you can’t come Saturday, please consider coming to one of the subsequent meetings in six other cities around Indiana.

Thanks for your 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 ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand continues to represent ICPE during the interim study committee meetings in August and September. Our work in support of public education in the Statehouse goes on. We welcome 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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