Saturday, March 25, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #288 – March 25, 2017

Dear Friends,

Attention all Indiana voters: Your powers to elect a State Superintendent of Public Instruction are in jeopardy. Voters can defend the powers they have had for 166 years at a hearing this Monday, March 27 at 10am in the Senate Chamber.

Come to speak if you can or send messages to your Senators opposing House Bill 1005.

Is our democracy in Indiana fading? How much do voters want to keep their powers?

The leaders of the Senate have decided that when 26 Senators voted no on Senate Bill 179, nearly identical to House Bill 1005, it was not “decisively defeated.” They want to bring it back to life.

The Senate has a rule regarding a defeated bill that says “that exact language or substantially similar language shall be considered decisively defeated and shall not be considered again during the session.”

The Senate is apparently ready to interpret that rule to help the Governor and allow another vote on a similar bill with a few changes.

The Rules Committee will consider the bill and amendments to the bill at 10am on Monday, March 27th in the Senate Chamber.

Will Indiana voters defend their powers?

Possible Amendments

House Bill 1005 passed the House and will now be considered by the Senate after Senate leaders decided how to negate their own rule on “decisively defeated” bills. House Bill 1005 ends the use of the name “State Superintendent of Public Education” and would have the Governor appoint a “secretary of education.” House Bill 1005 also removes the two-year Indiana residency requirement and requires no experience or licensing in education, stating only that the appointee would serve at the pleasure of the Governor for a salary determined by the Governor.

No amendments to HB 1005 have been posted, but speculation about changes includes three topics:
1) The effective date could be changed from 2021 to 2025, allowing for another four year term of office for the current State Superintendent.

2) The two-year Indiana residency requirement could be reinstated.

3) A requirement of Indiana experience and licensing as a teacher or administrator could be added.
Power Leaves the People and Goes to the Governor

None of these possible amendments would change the basic question: Do Hoosier voters agree that they should give up the power to select the Indiana state school superintendent, a power they have had for 166 years, and to hand that power over to the Governor?

I say no. I say that voters should elect an independent voice to be the executive of the education system in Indiana, just as the framers of our Constitution intended.

No doubt the Governor would love to have the power to select the State Superintendent, but that would remove the power of voters to name an independent leader who knows Indiana education. Keeping this power in the hands of the people is what democracy is all about. We should maintain this power that voters have had for 166 years.

Are we about to diminish our democracy after 166 years? Are we about to diminish public education in Indiana by removing the public from the selection of the State Superintendent?

Is this just one more step in the death spiral of public education in Indiana envisioned by Milton Friedman and his followers?

Contact Senators to Keep the Power in the Hands of Voters

Individual voters need to step up to the plate if they want to keep their powers at the ballot box. Voters are about to lose a big one if they are not heard loudly and clearly in the next few days.

Besides emails and messages to Senators, I hope some voters will show up to testify that our democracy should not be diminished and voters should not lose their powers to the Governor.

The first Senators to contact are on the Rules Committee which will vote on House Bill 1005 Monday morning, March 27th in the 10 am meeting. The members of the Rules Committee to be contacted are:

Republican Senators Long, Holdman, Bray, Charbonneau, Eckerty, Hershman, Kruse and Merritt

Democratic Senators Lanane, Breaux, Randolph and Tallian

Then contact your own Senator or any Senator about this bill. They will all vote again on this proposal as they did on February 20th when 26 Senators voted no. You can thank all 26 in the list below and ask them to maintain their opposition:

Senator Becker Senator Glick Senator Leising Senator Stoops
Senator Bohacek Senator Grooms Senator Melton Senator Tallian
Senator Breaux Senator Head Senator Mishler Senator Taylor
Senator Crane Senator Kenley Senator Mrvan Senator Tomes
Senator Crider Senator Koch Senator Niemeyer Senator Young
Senator Doriot Senator Kruse Senator Niezgodski
Senator Ford Senator Lanane Senator Randolph

In this era of activism and resistance, the voters of Indiana who don’t want to lose their powers in our democracy need to go to work right away to oppose House Bill 1005!

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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