Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #36– July 22, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, there are two key things that voters across America should know:
  • First, Mike Pence does not support public education. He instead supports taxpayer funded private school vouchers. He has significantly expanded taxpayer payments for religious and private education compared to the level of payments passed by his predecessor Governor Mitch Daniels. His priorities are wrong. In 2015-16 his policies resulted in Indiana spending $53 million for student tuition at religious and private schools while spending only $10 million for much needed preschool programs. The table below tells the tale.
  • Second, Mike Pence diminished our democracy and the power of voters by undermining the results of the 2012 election. He refused to accept the will of the voters when they elected a Democrat as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz. Her election was a direct rejection of the policy changes enacted under State Superintendent Tony Bennett. Governor Pence pushed legislation to remove the new State Superintendent as chair of the State Board of Education effective in the middle of the first term in which the voters elected her knowing that the State Superintendent in Indiana has chaired the State Board since 1913. His bill demoting State Superintendent Ritz passed, but at the last minute cooler heads in the legislature deferred the demotion until after the next election. His partisanship was blatant.
[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.]

Mike Pence Pushes Private School Vouchers at Every Opportunity

It seems clear that providing a voucher for every private school student, expensive as that would be, is a goal for Mike Pence, allowing every parent rich and poor to have the taxpayers pay for religious and private education. His policies have gone far beyond the original policies of Governor Mitch Daniel, as seen in this chart:

Under policies of Governor Daniels, a savings of $4 million per year was realized because Governor Daniels’ said students should try public school first, and voucher eligibility began after students had tried public schools for two semesters. The state saves money when students transfer from public to private schools with a voucher.

Governor Pence threw out the Daniels’ policies and expanded several pathways to voucher eligibility, opening the door to giving thousands of vouchers (now 52% of all vouchers) to students who had always been in private schools. Paying for these students constituted a new fiscal cost to the taxpayers, ending the voucher program as a money saver and producing the net fiscal costs listed in the right hand column: $15 million in 2013-14; $40 million in 2014-15; and $53 million in the most recent year 2015-16.

Contrast these costs to other important education programs in the Indiana annual budget:
  • $10 million for preschool
  • $18 million for summer school
  • $3 million for technology
  • $7 million for English Language Learners
  • $12 for Gifted and Talented programs
All of these vital programs added together did not get the budget support that Mike Pence gave to private and religious school tuition.

The real losers of the Mike Pence policies are the 92% of Hoosier students who have chosen public schools from which, as the chart shows, diversions to private schools totaled $131 million in 2015-16.

Mike Pence Never Respected the Will of the 2012 Voters

Even though voters elected Democrat Glenda Ritz to be State Superintendent in 2012 knowing that the State Superintendent chairs the State Board of Education, Governor Pence and his supermajority in the legislature ignored the will of voters and passed a bill in 2015 to undermine her authority. The blatantly partisan bill started out to immediately remove her as chair in the middle of her first term, changing the rules without regard to the wishes of the 1.3 million voters who elected her. In doing this, Governor Pence ignored the fact that more voters cast ballots for her in the 2012 election for State Superintendent than voted for Mike Pence in the election for Governor.

This plan was just plain wrong. Changes in duties should never be implemented until after a subsequent election. Finally members of Mike Pence’s party in the legislature recognized this and delayed the change until after the 2016 election.

The bill passed gave the power to choose the chair to appointees on the State Board. Eight of the ten members are appointed by the Governor. Thus, the Governor’s bill directly reduced the power of the ballot box and gave the power to him. With this move, he diminished our democracy and the power of voters.

The November Election

I support non-sectarian, non-partisan public schools as the cornerstone of our democracy. I oppose the privatization of our public schools pushed by Mike Pence which cost Indiana taxpayers $53 million last year.

I support public participation in choosing the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and leaving the power to choose the chair of the State Board of Education in the hands of the voters. I oppose dismantling voter control over the leadership of the State Board and giving the power to Governor Mike Pence.

Mike Pence has led the march toward privatization of Indiana’s public schools.

For the sake of supporting public education in Indiana’s bicentennial year, I strongly stand with the “Never Trump/Never Pence” camp in the fall election.

I urge all public school advocates to join me in protecting and prioritizing public education as it is attacked over and over again during this unprecedented political season.

Thanks for advocating 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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