Friday, February 17, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #277 – February 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

Five updates on public education in the Statehouse:

UPDATE #1: Join us in the Statehouse this Monday on Presidents’ Day (Feb. 20th) for “A Celebration of Public Education”! We need your voice and the voices of your family and friends on issues updated below!

Lunch (if pre-registered) at 12:30. Choirs at 1:30. Speakers at 2:00 in the North Atrium.

The League of Women Voters has joined the list of sponsoring organizations:
AFT Indiana
American Association of University Women
Concerned Clergy
Indiana Coalition for Public Education
Indiana Parent Teacher Association
Indiana Small & Rural Schools Association
Indiana State Teachers Association (lunch & display sponsor)
Indiana Urban Schools Association
League of Women Voters
Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education

Speakers at 2:00 pm in the North Atrium are being coordinated by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, and Joel Hand will serve as MC.

Displays on the 3rd and 4th floor will highlight a sampling of great things happening in public schools.

Bring new and gently used classroom supplies for ISTA ReSupply and book donations to celebrate Read Across America.

I hope to see you as we celebrate public education!

UPDATE #2: Senator Kruse announced Wednesday before the hearing that SB 534 (Education Savings Accounts for Special Education) would not advance. It is dead for this session. Senator Kruse deserves your thanks for stopping this bill!

He went ahead with the hearing on the bill after announcing its fate. An expert from the Foundation for Excellence in Education in Florida, funded by Jeb Bush and the Gates Foundation, extolled the virtues of Education Savings Accounts, which as I have written would undermine the entire concept of public education. No doubt we will fight this fight again in the future.

UPDATE #3: The Senate bill to expand pre-kindergarten programs (SB 276) passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday with no link to a lifetime K-12 voucher such as that passed in House Bill 1004. SB 276 now goes to the Appropriations Committee. In its present form, it deserves the full support of public school advocates!

UPDATE #4: Both bills to make the State Superintendent of Public Instruction into a secretary of education appointed by the Governor are ready for a final vote on as early as Monday. If you oppose taking power from the voters to select our State Superintendent, this is your last weekend to appeal to your Senator or House member to oppose Senate Bill 179 and House Bill 1005. Both bills require no experience in Indiana and, unbelievably, no experience in education! Since they are identical, they could be signed into law very soon.

UPDATE #5: It appears that the Indiana House is sending a message to our K-12 students that they can’t give them adequate support this year because our roads are bad!

The House budget released Wednesday gives even less for tuition support than did the Governor’s meager budget released in January.

  • The Governor asked for $70 million the first year (1.0% increase) and $210 in the second year (2.0% increase above the first year) or a total of $280 million new dollars.
  • The new House budget invests $77 million in the first year (1.1% increase) and $196 million in the second year (1.7% increase above the first year) or a total of $273 million new dollars.
  • In 2015, the final budget invested $157 million in the first year (2.3% increase) and $317 million in the second year (2.3% increase above the first year) or a total of $474 million new dollars. 
Is Indiana so poor this year that the support for public education must slip this much compared to 2015? The latest Consumer Price Index from the federal government showed the annual inflation rate in January 2017 to be 2.5%. Our school programs can’t even keep up with inflation next year when the increase is only 1.1%.

Legislators have not made increased funding for public schools a priority this year. The supermajority is trying to set an expectation that this is all that schools will get, but this is totally inadequate. They need to hear more from public school advocates!

In addition, the House budget would raise the amount for tax credits for private school scholarships from $9.5 million to $12.5 million each year. For the two-year budget, that means an increase of $6 million for private school tuition scholarships. This is the first point that public school advocates should press legislators on, so that at least $6 million could be shifted to shore up the clearly inadequate K-12 funding. If you talk with your legislator in the Statehouse when you come on Monday, this is an important point to make to stop the expansion of taxpayer money going to private schools!

Thanks for your advocacy for public education! I hope you can get to the “Celebration of Public Education” in the Statehouse on Monday!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is again representing ICPE in the new budget session which began on January 3, 2017. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

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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