Monday, October 3, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #39– October 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

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


Here is the question that deserves attention on the October 4th Vice Presidential debate:

Why is Mike Pence supporting Donald Trump’s plan for the biggest federal intrusion into state and local schools in American history?

Donald Trump, in a September 8th speech in Cleveland given little media attention, said he would use the power of the Presidency to have all 50 states use public tax money to pay for private and religious school tuition. He said it would cost $20 billion in federal dollars and $110 billion in state dollars, and he would lead the effort.

At this point, 20 states have completely resisted entwining church and state by using public dollars for private and religious schools, and for very good reasons. Other states have very limited school choice programs. Under Article 10 of the U.S. Constitution, education matters should be left to the states.

Now Donald Trump wants to ignore Article 10 and push a federal mandate for private school vouchers in the name of school choice.

Remember, just like the name implies, “school choice” in private schools means that the private school has the choice and they can refuse to enroll any student they do not want. They do not even need to give a reason. Public schools enroll any and all students who may apply.

Incredibly, Mike Pence who has made a career of resisting federal intrusion into school and local schools, has gone along with the Trump plan. Mike Pence voted against the 2001 No Child Left Behind, saying it was an intrusion of the federal government into policies that should be controlled by the state. He turned down a 2014 federal grant of $80 million for pre-kindergarten programs in Indiana saying it would lead to federal intrusion.

Now he says Donald Trump’s plan to have all 50 states to use public tax money to pay for private and religious school tuition is just fine. Why this obvious hypocrisy? Why ignore Article 10? That’s the question for his debate with Tim Kaine.
[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.]

Donald Trump’s Plan to Privatize Public Education

Speaking in Cleveland on September 8th, Donald Trump demeaned public schools and missed the irony of incorrectly calling them “our government run monopoly schools” while speaking at a charter school. Charter schools years ago ended any credible talk of “monopoly” by offering publicly funded options to parents.

Donald Trump called for magnet school and charter school options, without pointing out that those options already exist. Then he called for using tax money to pay for private and religious school tuition. Two key points:
  • He said he would divert $20 billion dollars in existing federal education funding for a block grant to states to pay for private school tuition. This concept was proposed and rejected by the Republican Congress when they passed the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. Presumably the $20 billion would be taken away from the much needed Title 1 funding which now helps all disadvantaged students with reading and math skills. This would damage current student programs.
  • He said it would take $110 billion in state dollars to fund school choice nationwide and he would personally campaign in each state to elect state politicians who don’t resist funding private school tuition at that amount. Quick calculations show that Indiana’s share of his $110 billion would be about $2 billion.
$2 billion for private school tuition!!

Contrast that with 2015-16 state reports showing Indiana spent $53 million for private school vouchers for one of the biggest voucher programs in the nation. Do Indiana taxpayers want to raise the ante for private school vouchers from $53 million to $2 billion?? Donald Trump’s plan has no basis in reality!
Does America Want Donald Trump to Dismantle Public Education in the United States?

From its roots in the 1830’s, public education has brought the United States to a position of world power with its system of non-sectarian, non-partisan, publicly funded schools supervised by school boards elected following the rules of democracy and pledged to transparent public access in their records.

Now Donald Trump wants to spend billions in federal dollars to pay for tuition at sectarian and potentially partisan schools that are not run by elected officials and do not have to offer public access to records.

I oppose Donald Trump’s plan.

I strongly oppose public money from any source paying for private and religious school vouchers.

The Clinton/Kaine team has no plans for a federal intrusion to privatize our public schools in all 50 states. Since supporting public education is my highest priority, I will be voting for Clinton/Kaine.

The Johnson/Weld Libertarian team does not support public education as a matter of principle to reduce government.

Therefore to support public education, I strongly stand in the “Never Trump/Pence” camp and the “Never Johnson/Weld” camp.

I hope Mike Pence will be asked in his Tuesday debate why he supports federal intervention to pay for vouchers at private and religious schools when he has opposed federal intrusion in state school policy until now.

Thanks for your strong advocacy for 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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