Friday, March 4, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #254 – March 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

Once again, the push by the current leadership of the Indiana General Assembly to expand private school vouchers marches on. Yesterday, the leadership flexed its muscles and the vote was not close.

Yesterday (March 3rd) on the House floor, Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools passed by a vote of 60-33.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for either a concurrence vote on the House amendments or a conference committee. The Senate sponsor Senator Yoder will decide which path the bill will take next week in the Senate.

If you would like to express your opposition to the steady drumbeat of voucher expansion in the Indiana General Assembly, contact your Senator or other Senators to tell them you object to the general mid-year voucher transfers allowed by Senate Bill 334.

Details of the Third Reading Vote on SB 334

Representative DeVon, House sponsor of the bill, introduced SB 334 Thursday afternoon right after the House resumed business after the inauguration of Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb.

Representatives Errington, Wright and Vernon Smith spoke strongly against voucher expansion. Representatives Tim Brown and DeVon spoke for it. Then came the roll call.

The opposition was bipartisan, with 6 Republicans and 27 Democrats voting NO.

Republicans (6) voting no: Representatives Arnold, Cook, Dermody, Koch, Truitt and Washburne.

Democrats (27) voting no: Representatives Austin, Bartlett, Bauer, C. Brown, DeLaney, Dvorak, Errington, Forestal, GiaQuinta, Hale, Harris, Kersey, Klinker, Lawson, Macer, Moed, Moseley, Niezgodski, Pelath, Pierce, Porter, Pryor, Riecken, Shackleford, V. Smith, Stemler and Wright.

Public education advocates should thank all 33 for their no vote.

Support for the bill was not bipartisan, with 60 Republicans voting YES.

Republicans (60) voting yes: Representatives Bacon, Baird, Behning, Beumer, Borders, Braun, T. Brown, Burton, Carbaugh, Clere, Cox, Culver, DeVon, Eberhart, Ellington, Fine, Friend, Frye, Gutwein, Hamm, Harman, Heaton, Huston, Judy, Karickhoff, Kirchhofer, Lehe, Lehman, Leonard, Lucas, Lyness, Mahan, Mayfield, Miller, Morrison, Morris, Negele, Nisly, Ober, Olthoff, Price, Rhoads, Richardson, Saunders, Schaibley, Slager, Smaltz, M. Smith, Soliday, Speedy, Steuerwald, Sullivan, Thompson, Torr, VanNatter, Wesco, Wolkins, Zent, Ziemke and Speaker Bosma.

Five Representatives were absent and excused: Republican Representatives Cherry, Frizzell and McNamara and Democrat Representatives Goodin and Summers.

Two Representatives did not vote: Republican Representatives Aylesworth and Davisson.

Observations about the vote

The leadership of the House starting with Speaker Bosma has strongly supported voucher expansion since they took control of the House in 2011. It takes great conviction for a Republican to go against leadership and oppose voucher expansion.

Leadership has strong leverage to keep members in line on the voucher issue, a fact that no doubt influenced the following:
  • Representative Slager voted against SB 334 in the Ways and Means Committee but changed to a Yes on the final vote.
  • Representative Davisson voted against SB 334 in Ways and Means but did not vote on the final vote.
  • Representatives Dermody and Truitt are retiring from the House and could oppose the bill without concern about consequences next year.
  • SB 334 provides for the biggest expansion of vouchers since the enormous $40 million 2013 voucher expansion which was opposed at the time by Representatives Bacon, Baird, Leonard, Mahan, Saunders, Soliday and Wolkins. All seven decided to get back in line with leadership on SB 334.
Contact Senators This Weekend

Your messages opposing the general voucher expansion to spring semester have made SB 334 one of the most controversial bills of the session. It didn’t start out that way when it began in the Senate, but your concerns about the continuous drumbeat of voucher expansion made it contentious in the House. It was the final bill to pass out of committee on Monday, and it was not passed on third reading until the final day.

Thank you to all public school advocates who have raised your voice on this issue. Keep it up!

Now it is time to reconnect with your Senator or other Senators to let them know you strongly oppose SB 334. Let them know that giving more and more attention to making private school vouchers easier to get and less and less attention to the vast and crucial needs of public education is taking Indiana in the wrong direction.

When parents have made the choice to send 94% of the students of Indiana to public schools, public education in our bicentennial year deserves the full support of legislators.

Take a moment to send a message to Senators to oppose Senate Bill 334 unless it is amended to focus the bill on drop out recovery, in line with the purpose stated by the bill sponsors. 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.


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