Sunday, May 13, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #323 – May 12, 2018

Dear Friends,

Are Muncie schools about to get a pass on school accountability and letter grades?

The Indiana General Assembly is poised to pass a bill in Monday’s special session that would allow Muncie public schools under Ball State’s control to ignore the system of school letter grades under the accountability law.

A new analysis has clarified that Indiana’s school accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow when they are running the Muncie public schools, according to the text of House Bill 1315ss which is scheduled for approval in one day on Monday.

This would be a first for Indiana. All other schools getting public dollars must participate in the letter grade system:
  • All charter schools must follow IC 20-31, the school accountability law, according to the charter school law (IC 20-24).
  • All voucher private schools must follow IC 20-31-8-3 to receive a letter grade designation, according to the voucher law (IC 20-51)
You can check this out for yourself by looking at the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow while running the Muncie public schools on pages 32 and 33 of the proposed House Bill 1315ss, available on the Indiana General Assembly web site. The accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29.

You can then compare this to the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow in IC 20-24-8-5. The charter school list does indeed include the accountability law, IC 20-31.

It is hard to believe that Representative Tim Brown, the author of the bill, really meant to give Ball State a pass on school letter grades as they run the Muncie public schools. I am assuming this is a major oversight that needs to be corrected in the special session.

In the hearings that I attended on HB 1315, letter grades were not discussed.

House Bill 1315ss must be amended on Monday to add the accountability law (IC 20-31) to the list of laws that Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie schools. The Indiana General Assembly has been resolute in the past that all schools must have letter grades for accountability purposes. This has been a central tenet of the plan to have a marketplace of schools in Indiana.

Contact your legislators in the House and the Senate by Monday or during the special session on Monday:
  • Tell them to amend the list of 29 laws Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie public schools. Many key laws such as bullying prevention have been omitted.
  • Tell them the list of laws to follow must include the accountability law, IC 20-31. It would be wrong to give Ball State a pass on giving letter grades to Muncie schools in a state where all charter, voucher and public schools must be given letter grades.
  • Tell them while they are at it, they should add two teacher protection laws from the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow that are not on Ball State’s list of 29 laws to follow under the current draft of HB 1315ss:
(1) IC 20-28-10-12 antidiscrimination; marital status

(2) IC 20-28-10-14 teacher’s freedom of association
House Bill 1315ss is flawed and incomplete. It must be amended in Monday’s special session.

Contact your legislators about these concerns. There is no reason to excuse any school in Indiana from the letter grade system.

This isn’t right.

Thank you for your active support of public education!

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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