Monday, March 9, 2020

In Case You Missed It – Mar 9, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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Vic’s Statehouse Notes #344 – March 7, 2020

If it's after 9 AM on March 9 when you read this, it's probably too late to have an impact on the legislation that this edition of Vic's Statehouse Notes covers. However, It's still worth it for you to read what the Republican led Indiana legislature has done. (If, by chance you're reading this before 9 AM on March 9, click the link and write to the legislators noted in the article.)

The Governor and his allies in the Republican supermajority-based houses of the Indiana General Assembly have made it clear that the Red for Ed rally in November didn't convince them that teachers actually needed more money for themselves or their schools. The matter, according to the Governor, is still being studied. According to the Republican leadership in the legislature, 2020 isn't a budget year so spending more money on public schools or teachers is wait for next year when the entire state budget is examined.

On the other hand, they didn't hesitate to authorize more money for charter schools and vouchers!

1. They sneaked in an amendment that allows charters to grab a share of public school money acquired through referenda on the same day they refused to allow state audits of charters.

2. More money for vouchers!

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education
With fall elections looming, Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Holcomb had tried to muzzle attacks on traditional public schools this session to keep from riling up the thousands of educators who marched on the Statehouse last November. Their muzzling act has now failed. Educators are riled and you should be too if you are an advocate of public education.

What did Amendment 6 do? It allowed charter schools for the first time to get a share of property tax referendum money when local school boards ask property taxpayers to raise taxes. This bad idea to divert some of the referendum money from traditional public schools to charters was defeated last session but has been raised again in this sneak attack as a “may” provision, seen as a step to next session’s effort to make it a “shall” provision.

The huge policy shift of this amendment was recognized by 16 Republican senators who voted “No.” The vote ended in a tie, 25-25. Lt. Governor Crouch vote “Yes” and the amendment passed, thus linking Governor Holcomb to the ire of public education advocates, just when he was trying to smooth things over for the election.

Ironically, this amendment to divert more money to charter schools was passed on the same afternoon that a different amendment failed saying charter schools should have state audits to prevent the $68 million fraud case in virtual charter schools from ever happening again. The effort to reform charter school audits went down 20-30."

No More Middle Ground: At this point, you are either for public education, or you are against it

Indianapolis teacher Shane Phipps also expresses anger at the legislature's actions. His apt description of giving the right of charters to suck up more public funding, this time from referenda sponsored by public schools, is villianous...a perfect choice of words.

From Inside Education with Shane Phipps
It’s hard to think of a more villainous move than the state stealing from the funds that desperate school corporations have to go begging for because the state is starving them of funding. If school districts were properly funded in the first place, there would be no need for any referendums. But in order to stay afloat, many districts have done the incredibly difficult work to get the extra money they need from their communities who are so generous to give a little extra for the cause of public education. And now you see your elected officials trying to rob public schools of even those funds. It makes me shiver to thing what might be coming next.

Indiana lawmakers open a door for charter schools to share referendum funds

Chalkbeat discusses the issue here.

If you are not outraged about this, you are either not paying attention or you don’t care about the children and the public schools in your community. You also don’t care about your tax dollars being wasted.

From Chalkbeat*
But Democrats raised concerns that the proposal would set lawmakers up to later tweak the law to be a requirement to share referendum funds rather than an option. They worried the provision would take funding away from traditional public school districts, which are increasingly relying on referendums that can help pay for teacher salaries, building renovations, and day-to-day operations.


Senator paid by maligned school: Virtual School facing accusations of fraud

An Indiana State Senator, Travis Holdman, had a business arrangement with charter schools (until the schools were caught defrauding the state, then he quickly severed his ties). That same senator is among the people in the state (the Indiana General Assembly) who are responsible for funding those same charter schools.

Isn't it time to vote for public education? Isn't it time to rid the legislature of people who care more for their own re-election and profits than they do our children.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A state senator with a legal practice and consulting business was paid between 2011 and 2019 by a virtual charter school now accused of defrauding taxpayers of $68 million.

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, ended his contract with Indiana Virtual School last year as allegations of malfeasance arose.

It is unclear how much Holdman made from his contract because the school is shuttered. Attempts to reach the founder, superintendent and attorney for the school were unsuccessful Monday. Holdman declined to say how much he was paid but considered it a small account.

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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