Monday, February 29, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #252 – February 29, 2016

Dear Friends,

Again, the push by the current leadership of the Indiana General Assembly to expand private school vouchers marches on. Today, the vote was close.

Today (Feb. 29) in the Ways and Means Committee, Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools passed by a vote of 12-10.

An amendment offered by Representative Porter to give a tax credit for textbook rental payments to public school parents failed in committee before the final vote.

The bill now goes to the floor of the House for second reading amendments.

It’s time to send a message to your House member or to all House members that you oppose any expansion of private school vouchers and you think they should amend this bill to focus on helping drop outs, the stated purpose of the bill as described by the bill’s sponsor.

Senate Bill 334 has been changed by the House, so if the bill is approved on the House floor this week, it will have to return to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the House version or else a conference committee to resolve the differences. It is not too early to send messages to your Senator about your opposition to the expansion of private school vouchers. It has been announced that the session will be adjourned on March 10th, just eleven days from today.

Details of SB 334 in the House Ways and Means Committee

Today was the final day for bills to pass out of committees. Senate Bill 334 was the final bill of five called up today by Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown. Dr. Brown is a strong supporter of private school vouchers and filed the radical bill this session to give all parents including home school parents the right to directly receive the taxpayer funds for schooling on a debit card to pay for tutors or private teachers with no public oversight. Mercifully, that over-the-top bill was not given a hearing.

ICPE Board President Tim Skinner was present at the hearing to testify against the bill on behalf of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. Chairman Brown, however, did not allow testimony on Senate Bill 334 even though he had invited brief testimony on the other bills that came earlier in the meeting.

Discussion on the bill started with Representative Porter’s attempt to amend the bill to give tax credits to public school parents for payments they make for textbook rental. Currently, home school and private school parents can claim a deduction for textbooks on state taxes, but no deductions or credits are available to public school parents. The amendment failed on a party line vote, 7-15.

Representative Goodin, who is a public school superintendent in Crothersville, spoke strongly against several provisions of the expansion of vouchers in SB 334. Then came the committee vote on the bill.

Three Republicans joined seven Democrats in opposing the bill. They are:

Republicans (3): Representatives Davisson, Slager and Truitt

Democrats (7): Representatives Porter, Goodin, Klinker, Niezgodski, Pryor, Riecken and Stemler

All ten should be thanked for their vote.

Twelve Republicans voted for the bill: Representatives Baird, Karickhoff, Leonard, Thompson, Clere, Huston, Mayfield, Negele, Ober, Sullivan, Braun and Chairman Brown.

Representatives Cherry and DeLaney were not present and excused from the vote.

If one more committee member had voted against SB 334 voucher expansion, the bill would not have advanced. Put another way, any one of the twelve House members voting yes could have stopped the bill but chose not to.

Keep writing and calling your legislators about your opposition to voucher expansion in SB 334. Clearly, more legislators are starting to hear your messages.

Let members of the House and the Senate know that you think the drumbeat for more and easier private school vouchers and less attention and support for public education has to stop.

The priority and publicity given to privatizing public education is taking us in the wrong direction and leaving our long heritage of public education in Indiana, the achievement of countless dedicated public servants, at risk of further unraveling in the midst of Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.

Your messages to legislators make all the difference in the last week of the session, especially in an election year which is the season when politicians are most likely to listen.

Take a moment to send a message to House members this week and to Senators next week to oppose Senate Bill 334 unless it is amended to focus the bill on drop out recovery. Tell them they should not expand vouchers generally to promote spring semester transfers.

Thanks for your strong support of 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 2016 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. 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.


No comments: