Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #290 – March 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

Efforts in the General Assembly to give more and more public money for private school vouchers are relentless.

House Bill 1384, to be voted on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) at 1:30pm in the Senate Education Committee, would allow new private schools to get vouchers the first year without waiting a year to get accreditation as they do now.

In addition, it would give voucher schools making D’s and F’s two years in a row an appeal procedure to allow them to avoid current accountability rules and keep receiving new voucher students, a loophole that could help as many as nine low-rated voucher schools.

Ask Senators on the Senate Education Committee to oppose House Bill 1384 giving more public money for the fast-track expansion of voucher schools and for low-rated voucher schools.

The members of the Senate Education Committee to contact before Wednesday at 1:30 are:

Republican Senators Kruse, Raatz, Bassler, Crane, Freeman, Kenley, Leising and Zay

Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops
Privatization of Schools: From Stable Centers of Community Life to the “Wild, Wild West”

One great attribute of public schools that Indiana has experienced for over 160 years is their stability and their function as community centers that bring together people of all walks of life. Voucher advocates are trying to change that climate by marketing new private schools hyped with attractive advertising.

House Bill 1384 would allow new private schools to get vouchers in the first year of their existence. Under current law, private schools have to go through their first year in order to establish performance data for use in receiving accreditation, a prerequisite for receiving voucher dollars. HB 1384 would fast-track the process to allow new private schools accreditation and voucher money in the first year of operation.

Joel Hand, our lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, testified against the bill and was quoted on the front page of the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017): “One of our fears is by opening up our voucher program to schools that have not been in our state before, have not previously been accredited here, is we could be opening it up to the wild, wild west. We already have an issue with a number of private schools that accept vouchers that aren’t performing well. Now we’re talking about potentially bringing in schools from out of state that have no record here in Indiana giving them a free reign to vouchers right from the get go.”

Well said, Joel!

Lowering the Standards for D and F Voucher Schools

House Bill 1384 also allows voucher schools making D’s and F’s a pathway to more voucher money. Currently, if a voucher school receives a D or F for two years, they can’t enroll new voucher students although they can receive voucher money for current voucher students. This point of strong accountability was used to sell the voucher program to the General Assembly in the historic voucher debate in 2011. HB 1384 makes a waiver appeal available through the State Board of Education to get around the two-year rule.

Public school advocate Sally Sloan of the American Federation of Teachers – Indiana testified against this concept and was also quoted in the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017, page 8A) saying that the state has gone back on its word to ensure voucher schools provide top-tier education: “When vouchers first came into being, we were told it’s important that these private schools get the opportunity because they’re going to provide so much better education.”

Well said, Sally!

Contact the Senate Education Committee by Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 1:30pm

Contact the members of the Senate Education Committee listed above to let them know you have seen enough efforts to expand unaccountable voucher schools while public schools get little attention from the General Assembly.

Ask them to defeat House Bill 1384 and then give more support to public schools.

Thank you for your support of 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 www.icpe2011.com 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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