Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #29– April 26, 2016

Dear Friends,

Note: There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization.

In Indiana’s bicentennial year, will Hoosier voters elect candidates who will vote to dismantle public education in Indiana?

In Indiana’s Senate District 12, Middlebury School Board Member Joanna King announced last September that she would challenge Senator Carlin Yoder in the 2016 primary elections.

Senator Yoder has been a powerful advocate for private school vouchers and the privatization of public education in his eight years in the Senate.

Then Senator Yoder decided not to run for reelection but found a candidate who will carry on his support for private school vouchers, Blake Doriot.

The Republican voters of Senate District 12 have a choice in the May 3rd primary election whether to support public education by voting for Joanna King or whether to support giving more public money to private and religious schools by voting for Blake Doriot.

This is an open seat with a clear choice for voters about the support they want to give public schools. Public school advocates in Senate District 12 should support Joanna King in whatever way they can in order to restore the priority needed to support our public school students.
[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

Senate District 12

Senate District 12 includes a large part of Elkhart County where I grew up (Elkhart High School Class of 1965) and a small part of Kosciusko County. In this bicentennial year, I can personally testify to the long heritage of excellent public education in Elkhart County, a tradition that is now threatened by the loss of funding through vouchers and tax caps and the threats to further privatization through “Reduced Learning No Accountability Accounts”, known by their proponents as “Education Savings Accounts” proposed in bills filed in the 2016 session with the strong support of the Institute for Quality Education, the private school voucher organization.

Senator Carlin Yoder: Champion of Private School Vouchers and the Privatization of Public Education

As I joined with other public school advocates in the Statehouse in the historic legislative battles over the 2011 voucher law and the huge 2013 expansion of vouchers, I watched as Senator Yoder emerged to be the leading voice in the Senate to push for more and more private school vouchers. The massive 2013 voucher expansion wiped out any state savings from vouchers and gave so many vouchers to students who had already made the choice to go to private schools that the state had to pay an additional $40 million in 2014-15 to fund them, according to state financial reports.

$40 million per year for private school vouchers is four times what Indiana is budgeting per year for preschool. Priorities have been skewed.

Senator Yoder gave strong support to adding $3.8 million for bigger K-8 vouchers in the 2015 budget. Then in the recent 2016 session, Senator Yoder sponsored a controversial bill that passed on the final day to expand vouchers by making them available during the spring semester at a cost to taxpayers estimated by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency to be $2.1 million starting in 2017.

Candidate Joanna King

Joanna King stepped up to the plate to take on one of the Senate’s main supporters of private school vouchers and other unpopular education measures, Senator Yoder. She grew up in Middlebury, has run a small business for 25 years and has been elected twice to the Middlebury School Board. In her September announcement, the Elkhart Truth reported (Sept. 30, 2015) that she said “current legislators have demoralized and defeated public educators by taking away money and focusing too much on accountability and testing” and that “if elected, she said she’ll bring the voice of educators to the Statehouse and work to establish more trust and respect between educators and legislators.”

Candidate Blake Doriot

Then Senator Yoder announced in October that he would not run for reelection, but he apparently was not happy about having Joanna King, a supporter of public education, as his successor. In December, Blake Doriot, the Elkhart County surveyor, announced his candidacy for Senate District 12 with Carlin Yoder by his side. He told the Elkhart Truth editorial board that Senator Yoder asked him to run. Obviously, he would continue the policies of Senator Yoder in supporting and expanding private school vouchers.

A Clear Choice for Primary Voters

In a largely Republican area, the winner of the May 3rd primary election will be the clear favorite in the general election this fall. Candidates King and Doriot offer voters a clear choice on whether they want public education to be supported or slowly dismantled as we have seen since 2011.

The Elkhart Truth in an April 18, 2016 editorial endorsed Joanna King for Senate District 12.

Public school advocates in District 12 and across Indiana should support her candidacy in any way possible. If public education is ever to be restored to the priority that it needs, we must have more people like Joanna King serving in the General Assembly.

In the tradition of democracy, the primary voters will help determine the future of public education in Indiana on May 3rd. I respect our democracy, and I respect the voters. Democracy works best when all participate. Be sure to vote!

The difference is clear. Joanna King deserves the support of all public school advocates, especially those in Senate District 12.

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year.

We need grassroots support for legislative candidates who will reverse the low priority given to public education in recent years and stop proposals such as Educational Savings Accounts which would further privatize our public schools.

Contact your friends and contribute what you can.

Thanks for standing up in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

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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