Sunday, March 12, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #285 – March 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

On Monday March 13th, Senator Mishler who chairs the Senate School Funding Subcommittee has invited testimony on three topics: 1) K-12 School Funding, 2) Teacher Performance Grants and 3) English Language Learner (ELL) Issues. The testimony will be heard by the subcommittee “Upon Adjournment of the Senate” in the Senate Chamber Monday afternoon.

Senators on the Subcommittee are:
Republican Senators Mishler, Bassler, Charbonneau and Eckerty

Democratic Senators Tallian and Greg Taylor
I urge you to include two points as you share your budget testimony, your emails or your phone calls with these six budget leaders this week:
1) The House budget for K-12 funding next year is absolutely grim. Pushback is in order. The House has taken our K-12 students back to Great Recession funding: only 1.1% for 2017-18. This will damage student programs. The Senate must do better than 1.1%.

2) In the midst of this damaging budget for many school districts, the House budget would increase funding for private school tax credits by $6 million, up 31% over current funding. This is outrageous when public schools are being told that there is only 1.1% for tuition support. The Senate should shift this $6 million for private school scholarship tax credits to shore up the meager budget for K-12 tuition support.

Only 1.1% for 2017-2018

A 1.1% increase matches the 2009-10 budget written in January 2009 in the deepest part of the Great Recession. Also in the Great Recession, the 2012-13 increase for K-12 was only 1.0%.

Now the House has told our K-12 students that 2017-18 gets 1.1% again, no better than the Great Recession.

In the House debate, both Representatives Greg Porter and Vernon Smith pointed out that under the House budget, 201 of the 292 public school corporations will either lose money in 2017-18 or will receive less than 1%.
  • Tell the Senators that our K-12 students should not be given a low priority in the budget just because Indiana’s roads are bad.
  • Tell the Senators that the House added only $77 (1.1%) million in new funding for K-12 tuition support when the budget for the current year (2016-17) written in 2015 added $160 million (2.3%). This cut is unbelievable given all the rosy economic stories we heard during the campaign.
  • Tell the Senators over one million K-12 students are counting on them to do better than the House did.
Stop Increasing Funding for Private School Scholarship Tax Credits

School Scholarships are given out to private school students for private school tuition by Scholarship Granting Organizations who get their money by taking donations and then authorizing donors to take 50% of the donation as a credit off of their Indiana income tax.

In 2009-10, the first budget for the program was $2.5 million. Private school advocates have pushed the budget to $9.5 million in 2016-17. Now the new House budget would increase the budget to $12.5 million in both years, a 31% increase!

Their priorities here must be questioned: In the same House budget, crucial funding for textbooks for low income students, for summer school and for technology were all frozen with no increase!
  • Tell the Senators they should stop expanding private school support with public tax dollars.
  • Tell the Senators they can put $6 million back into the K-12 budget by freezing the School Scholarship Tax Credits for private school tuition.
  • Better yet, the Senators can put $25 million back into the K-12 budget by canceling the School Scholarship tax credit program altogether, a program that duplicates what private school vouchers do already, that is, giving scholarships to attend private schools.
I urge you to contact your Senator and the Senators on the Senate Subcommittee on School Funding listed above with these two points.

Let them know how you feel about a meager 1.1% increase for K-12 next year and about a 31% increase for private school tax credit scholarships. The Senate can do better than the House on these points.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

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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