Monday, May 2, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #33– May 2, 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?

The architect of Indiana’s damaging shift to privatizing Indiana’s public schools has a challenger in tomorrow’s primary election.

Representative Behning has done more than any other member of the House to dismantle public education and send public tax money to private and religious schools.

Because of the law he sponsored in 2011, Indiana is now paying public money for religious education for the first time in 160 years. Public money paid to private and religious schools totaled over $134 million in 2015-16 according to state financial reports.

Now he is being challenged in House District 91 by Jim Grimes, a deputy in the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

All who believe Indiana education policy has gone in the wrong direction in the past five years should hold Representative Behning accountable and support Jim Grimes in District 91.
[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.]
House District 91

House District 91 includes the southwest corner of Marion County and the southeast corner of Hendricks County, including portions of Plainfield.

Representative Behning’s Goal: Public Money to Pay for All Private and Religious Education and a Privatized Education System in Indiana

If you or people you know believe Indiana’s school reforms in the past five years have hurt our schools, no one is more responsible for the General Assembly’s education policies that have brought us to where we are than Representative Behning. Here is a brief list of misguided laws he has sponsored:
  • He sponsored the 2011 voucher law which, after an historic legislative battle including a 9-hour House hearing over 2 days, allowed public tuition money to go to private and religious schools for the first time in 160 years since the 1851 Constitution.
  • He sponsored the massive 2013 voucher expansion law which rewrote eligibility rules allowing thousands of students who had always been in private schools to get public voucher tuition. This created a new fiscal cost paying for private school students who had never before been in the public count, hidden at the time of passage, of $40 million dollars according to the most recent state financial reports for 2014-15.
  • He sponsored the 2011 charter expansion law that has allowed private colleges to authorize public charter schools using public money voted on in private trustee meetings, as Grace College and Seminary from northern Indiana has now done over the strong objections of Monroe County leaders in southern Indiana. A charter school turned down by the Indiana Charter Board went authorizer-shopping and found Grace College willing to approve a Monroe County school 160 miles away. That is not right!
  • He sponsored the 2013 partisan rewrite of Indiana’s landmark bipartisan 1999 accountability law, forcing the A-F letter grade system based on high stakes testing into law for the first time. He has thus led the creation of a system in which all students and all teachers now give first priority to the high stakes test, narrowing the curriculum to what is tested and thereby slowly dismantling the balanced curriculum of the arts, civics and foreign language that Indiana once had.
  • He has been the dominant force in making Indiana an experimental marketplace of school choice in which all schools, public and private, compete based on high stakes testing for the hearts and minds of parents. His policies have forced all schools to give a higher priority to marketing their school to build enrollment needed to survive than to building a strong and creative curriculum.
Jim Grimes, according to the Indianapolis Star (May 1, page 4A), is concerned about the impact of these policies and is worried these new policies “will leave children in public schools behind.”

Based on the long record of Representative Behning’s effort to diminish public education, it is clear that Jim Grimes deserves the support of all public school advocates over Representative Behning in this primary election, especially those in House District 91.

The stakes are high in our bicentennial year. Will public education survive the political attacks?

Contact your friends in House District 91 about supporting Jim Grimes in tomorrow’s primary election.

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 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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