Friday, November 4, 2016

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #43– November 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

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


Rachel Burke, a veteran advocate for public education in Indiana, is running for the Indiana House of Representatives in District 89 , which includes portions of Warren Township in Marion County and the city of Beech Grove.

Rachel has served as legislative chair for the Indiana PTA (Parent Teachers Association) for many years and has a long record of speaking up for public education in the Statehouse. In 2012, she was elected to the Warren Township School Board. She and her husband have three children in the Warren Township Schools. She is a truly a strong advocate for public education.

Rachel Burke deserves the support of every public school advocate in Indiana. If you can help her in any way or if you know someone who votes in District 89, please take action to help her win on Nov. 8th.
[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.]
Rachel Burke’s Opponent is No Friend of Public Education

The incumbent in House District 89 is Representative Cindy Kirchhofer.

In the ICPE 2016 Legislator Report Card showing the letter grades legislators earned for support of public education, Representative Kirchhofer received a D.

That happened because she voted against public education on four or the five bills picked by ICPE as indicators of support for public education.

You can see the full ICPE Report Card HERE.

This is the time to use the ICPE Report Card on public education. Please share it with friends and colleagues before the election on Tuesday. Public education advocates need to hold members of the Senate and the House accountable for their votes on public education in order to restore a high priority to public education in the General Assembly where it has been under attack for years.

Rachel Burke’s Opponent Cindy Kirchhofer Has Not Supported Public Education in Past Years

The letter grade of D given to Representative Kirchhofer in the ICPE Legislator Report Card is based on five bills passed by the most recent General Assembly in 2015-16.

Representative Kirchhofer’s lack of support for public education started long before 2015. She has represented District 89 for six years, since defeating incumbent Representative John Barnes by only 600 votes in the election of 2010.

In 2011, she voted to pass the history-changing voucher bill, which I vehemently opposed.

In 2013, as the huge expansion to the voucher program was being debated in Governor Pence’s first months in office, I happened to fall into a buffet lunch line next to Representative Kirchhofer at the annual legislative luncheon of the Indiana Urban Schools Association. I had never really spoken with her before that day. The lunch line was long, which gave us time for an excellent conversation about many education issues. For me, it was a chance to share all of my concerns about the expensive expansion of the voucher program being pushed by Governor Pence and how it would damage our public schools. She was respectful of my thoughts but non-committal while we waited to get to the food.

In turned out that my opposition to the 2013 voucher expansion did not persuade her. There were 13 House Republicans who we persuaded to oppose the voucher expansion, but Representative Kirchhofer voted for the bill which has now led to an annual extra cost of $53 million according to state financial reports.

In six years, she never cast a vote in support of public education on a key bill until late in the 2016 session, a point at which she knew that public school advocate Rachel Burke would be her opponent in the fall election. Whether that fact influenced her to vote against House Bill 1005 and earn a D instead of an F is left to your own speculation.

Support Rachel Burke for House District 89 and Others Who Support Public Education

The case that all public school advocates should support Rachel Burke is clear.

Voters in all or part of the Warren Township Schools and the Beech Grove Schools are in District 89. If you know voters in either of these school districts let them know of your support for Rachel Burke. Send her a donation if you can.

We need more strong advocates for public education like Rachel Burke in the Indiana House of Representatives and we need to keep strong advocates who received high grades in the ICPE Report Card on public education bills.

Please study the letter grades below and support deserving incumbents who have high grades due to their support for public education. Then share the ICPE Report Card with friends and colleagues who support public education before the crucial election on November 8th.

In our democracy, voters are in control. Voters will decide in our bicentennial year whether more friends of public education will be elected and whether public education in Indiana will be supported or will be attacked and dismantled.

I urge you to get involved this weekend in the battle to protect public education at the ballot box!

Thanks for your strong support for public education throughout this election campaign!

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.


You can read the full ICPE Report Card HERE.


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