Friday, January 25, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #330 – January 24, 2019

Dear Friends,

Mandates to teach K-12 students about democracy would end 18 months from now unless a summer study committee decides to keep them, according to a bill discussed yesterday in the House Education Committee.

Will you speak up to keep mandates in place saying K-12 students will be taught about citizenship and democracy?

Yesterday in House Bill 1400, the mandate to teach our K-12 students about citizenship in our democracy was proposed to expire on July 1, 2020, unless the General Assembly takes action to save it in a summer study committee. Many other mandates are given the same treatment. Your voice is needed this week to get this set of civic mandates removed from the long list of programs to be ended if House Bill 1400 is passed.

At a time when our democracy is under attack from several directions, legislators need to hear that we don’t need to review whether our students should study the Constitution of the United States or take a course in American History. This is a set of civic mandates (IC 20-30-5) that we should all support.

House Bill 1400 is a massive bill. It proposes a review of nearly all mandates in our K-12 schools. It has great support because many mandates are unpopular. In testimony yesterday, our long-standing civic mandates in Indiana Code 20-30-5 were barely mentioned. They are one of forty-one sections of Indiana law that this bill would sunset effective July 1, 2020 unless a summer study committee in 2019 recommends otherwise.

Forty-one sections of law for one interim study committee to review!

Tell legislators that you are sure they can remove IC 20-30-5 from this review, the section that mandates that our students learn about citizenship, displaying the flag, and the pledge of allegiance.

Take Action This Week

The good news here is that the sponsors of the bill, Representative Cook and Representative Behning, did not take a vote on the bill and announced they would amend the bill before taking a vote on it next week. They acknowledged that there are many changes to be made.

Contact them to say they should delete the citizenship mandates in IC 20-30-5 (page 11, line 3) from this bill.

An Aggressive Approach to Ending Mandates

House Bill 1400 puts nearly every mandate in Indiana schools on the chopping block.

It has a lot of support because many mandates have intruded on the time of our teachers. The Indiana Department of Education last summer produced a list of 18 laws that mandate that teachers be trained in areas such as CPR and bullying every year. This bill is an effort to reduce the demands lawmakers have placed on teachers.

Yet the attorney for IDOE giving testimony yesterday on HB 1400 had “grave concerns” about several provisions, saying that Section 7 threatens receiving $271 million in federal funds and that Section 14 is “counter to our Constitution.”

The Senate Education Committee yesterday took a more moderate approach to the “18 trainings” memo. They had a hearing on SB 508, which changes “annual” training in five areas (e.g. bullying and human trafficking) to training every five years. SB 508 received strong support in testimony and will be voted on next Wednesday by the committee.

What are the Mandates to Teach Students about Citizenship and Democracy in IC 20-30-5?

Since the 1950’s, mandates have guided our public schools in teaching students about being good citizens in our democracy. These mandates include:
  • the pledge of allegiance and the display of the flag (20-30-5-0.5)
  • the study of the Indiana Constitution and the US Constitution (20-30-5-1)
  • the non-partisan study of general elections (20-30-5-4)
  • a required two-semester course in American History (20-30-5-4)
  • morals instruction (20-30-5-5)
  • good citizenship instruction (20-30-5-6)
Ending these mandates on July 1, 2020 unless an interim study committee saves them would put our democracy at risk.

It would be comparable to a plan to sunset the Bill of Rights unless the US Congress votes to reinstate them. That would be a huge risk to the structure of our democracy.

Ask Legislators to Delete 20-30-5 From the List of Mandates Scheduled for Expiration on July 1, 2020

Contact the members of the House Education Committee who will vote on an amended bill next week:

Republicans: Representatives Behning (bill sponsor), Cook (bill sponsor), Burton, Clere, DeVon, Goodrich, Jordan, Lucas, and Thompson

Democrats: Representatives Smith, DeLaney, Klinker, Pfaff

Then share your concern with your own Representative and your own Senator.

You may want to look up the forty other laws listed to expire on pages 9-11 of HB 1400, listed under “School Deregulation”. You may object to other parts of this plan. Current language of the bill includes ending on July 1, 2020 mandates for high ability education (IC 20-36), bullying prevention training (IC 20-26-5-34.2), CPR training (IC 20-28-5-3) and many others that may be near and dear to you.

It’s breathtaking.

Good luck in your efforts! Thank you for your active 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 the 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 represented ICPE extremely well during the 2018 session. 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. In April, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


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