Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #348 – January 26, 2021

Dear Friends,

Heads up! Public education is under the most serious attack ever seen in Indiana. Will you help defend it as you have for the last decade?

Taking advantage of the pandemic and reduced citizen access to the Statehouse, private education advocates in the House of Representatives are pushing to divert hundreds of millions in public funds to private and home schools and to establish in Indiana a radical new program called Education Savings Accounts that undermines the very concept of community public schools.

House Bill 1005 would expand private school vouchers and, for the first time, give significant tax dollars to unsupervised home schools. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says the bill would cost $202 million dollars over two years:
  • Expanding vouchers to give more money to higher income private school parents (Choice Scholarships) would cost $65 million over two years, according to LSA.
  • Education Savings Accounts to fund home schools would cost $137 million over two years according to LSA, which includes at least $6 million to create an online portal which would distribute the money directly to parents through the State Treasurer, of all things, without the involvement or supervision of any education official. This concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools and simply distribute money to parents. It should be totally rejected by the General Assembly.
Making this $202 million bill a supermajority priority makes a mockery of all claims that there is no money to improve teacher pay.

Voucher Costs Come Out the K-12 Tuition Support Budget

Governor Holcomb just proposed a budget increase of $377 million for K-12 tuition support. His budget lifts K-12 funding by 2% in the first year and by 1% in the second year of the two year budget.

He should, however, have signaled that public schools may get less than 2% and 1%. In his State of the State address, he said parents “deserve to have options.” Choice Scholarships (vouchers) are paid from the same K-12 tuition budget as are public and charter schools. House Bill 1005 would reduce the Governor’s plan by $65 million, according to the LSA fiscal estimate for expanded vouchers, diverting $34 million in the first year of the budget and $31 million in the second year to private schools and away from public schools that badly need the money.

That would actually leave an increase of $116 million for Indiana public schools in the first year, instead of the $150 million in the Governor’s plan, an increase of 1.5%, not 2%. The Governor’s increase in the second year, announced as $77 million or 1%, would turn out to be $46 million, after $31 million (40% of the proposed increase) is diverted to Choice Scholarships, according to the LSA estimate of voucher expansion costs. That results in a percentage increase of 0.6%.

Governor Holcomb included a line in his State of the State saying, “at the same time, those options shouldn’t come at the expense of the public school system, which educates 90% of Hoosier children.” If he is serious about this statement, he will oppose House Bill 1005, because
(1) the voucher expansion section of the bill undermines the funding available to public schools by $65 million and
(2) the Education Savings Account section of the bill incentivizes parents to abandon the public schools and undermines the central purpose of public education to teach every student about democracy and the US Constitution. This section funds unsupervised home schools, following the blueprint of Milton Friedman to end public education.
In the table at the end of these notes, the Governor’s proposed budget can be compared with the previous seven K-12 budgets.

HB 1005 Topic 1: Expanding Choice Scholarships

House Bill 1005 is a statement by the Republican leadership that giving more money to private school parents for tuition to private schools is a higher priority than raising teacher pay.

Currently, according to the latest income figures from IDOE for 2020-21:
  • families of four earning $48,000 or less get a 90% voucher.
  • families of four earning $48,000 to $60,000 get a 70% voucher.
  • families of four earning $60,000 to $96,000 get a 50% voucher.
House Bill 1005 would wipe out the income tiers and raise the income eligibility, giving all families of four earning up to $109,000 a 90% voucher in 2021-22. Then in 2022-2023 this level would rise to give families of four earning up to $145,000 a 90% voucher. This would give millions to families who are already attending private schools.

Again, the Legislative Services Agency says this generous government handout to higher income families would cost $34 million during 2021-22 and $31 million during 2022-23, for a total of $65 million taken from the K-12 tuition support budget.

HB 1005 Topic 2: Education Savings Accounts Go Directly from the Treasury to Home School Parents

The concept of an Education Savings Account is a radical idea. It was defeated once before in 2017 when Senate Bill 534 died in committee after superb opposition testimony from special education parents who saw how this maneuver would decrease funding for the quality special education programs that were so crucial in helping their children.

It has been resurrected under the guise of giving some parents options during the pandemic, but it plants the seeds for the disintegration and resegregation of community public schools. It is a plan proposed by Milton Friedman who wanted to end public schools and distribute education money to parents in the manner proposed by HB 1005, which makes special education and 504 students, children of active duty members of the military, children of disabled veterans and foster children eligible for grants estimated by LSA to cost $131 million dollars if they sign away their spot in an Indiana school.

ESA’s should not be confused with Choice Scholarship vouchers where at least we know your tax dollars are sent to a school that has some level of accountability to the state of Indiana. ESA’s are sent to parents directly from the Indiana Treasurer with no supervision. In fact, HB 1005 includes language that guarantees no curriculum supervision by the state.

In the midst of threats to our democracy and calls for racial justice, I would first ask two questions of anyone who thinks ESA’s are a good idea:
  • How will taxpayers know whether they are funding a home school that teaches extremism supporting the overthrow of the US Constitution?
  • How will taxpayers know whether they are funding a home school that teaches racism?
House Bill 1005 provides no protections to taxpayers on these questions.

There is no accountability for the home schools receiving public funds through Education Savings Accounts. The only ILEARN testing might come if parents use their accounts to pay tuition at a private school that is giving ILEARN, but parents can spend their accounts completely on tutors with no required accountability. That is wrong.

Why would Education Savings Accounts be so detrimental to education in Indiana?
1) ESA’s would give public money on a debit card to parents who sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” That’s all! The bill actually says “or” in this list, so studying just one subject would fulfill a parent’s obligation. It’s an unregulated and narrow education. No art, no music, no health, no vocational subjects. This would absolutely lower standards for students just as standards for public school students have been raised.

2) The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or public accountability of student achievement. This is in total contrast to testing and accountability in Indiana law.

3) The bill would give public money to high income parents of special education and 504 students, children of active duty military and disabled veterans, and foster children. HB 1005 would remove all income limits for receiving money from these accounts.

4) The bill would give the entire amount of public money for eligible students directly to parents, paving the way in a few years for the real goal to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This bill undermines the very concept of schools.

5) The bill would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.

6) The bill would give public money to parents with very weak provisions for fraud protection. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse are not excluded.
If this Education Savings Account concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools in the past decade have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and savings accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or voucher schools in order to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money. This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected by the General Assembly.

If this concept is not decisively rejected, the future of public education in Indiana is bleak. Our hard working but demoralized teachers and administrators in Indiana would take this bill as a signal that General Assembly is ready to put public education into a death spiral, and some would confirm plans to leave for other states or other vocations, making our teacher shortage even worse.

This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action. Our schools must pass on the tenets of democracy to every student if our democracy is to survive for another generation. Events of the past month at the U.S. Capitol show this is no trivial concern. Our democracy and the survival of the US Constitution are at stake. There is no way to check on whether Education Savings Accounts are funding independent anti-democracy extremist schools.

If the General Assembly is willing to give millions to home schools with no accountability, then they should remove all accountability measures for traditional public schools that at least have publicly chosen boards which supervise all expenditures.

Contact Your Legislators and Members of the House Education Committee!

This comes at a time when our democracy is imperiled. Public education has been a pillar of democracy in Indiana for over 170 years. Are you ready to defend it?

A hearing on House Bill 1005 could come as early as next week when the committee meets on February 3rd. Don’t wait. Send your messages now to your own legislators and to committee members.

Contact House Education Committee members:

Republican Representatives Behning (, Jordan (, Carbaugh(, Clere (, Cook (, Davis (, Goodrich (, Teshka (, Thompson (

Democrat Representatives Smith (, DeLaney (, Klinker (, Pfaff (

(Email all members of the committee at once...go to this site)

Tell them you oppose HB 1005:
  • The $202 million price tag for only the first two years is huge and should instead be directed to boosting teacher pay.
  • It is wrong in this economic climate to prioritize giving extra tax money to high income private school parents who are already able to pay private school tuition.
  • Chapters 1 through 6 on pages 25-38 of HB 1005 should be deleted altogether to prevent public dollars from going to home schools and independent unaccredited schools with no accountability and no supervision checking on whether these independent schools are teaching anti-democracy extremism.
  • HB 1005 would divert millions from public schools at a time they need stable support.
Then email Governor Holcomb to tell him that he must oppose Education Savings Accounts if he is sincere in saying in his State of the State address: “ those options shouldn’t come at the expense of the public school system, which educates 90% of Hoosier children.” Education Savings Accounts would put the public school system in a death spiral.

Compare the Governor’s Proposed Budget with Seven Previous Budgets

Study the table below to see how the new 2019 budget matches up with recent budgets going back to 2007.


Source: The summary cover page from the General Assembly’s School Formulas for each budget

Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 1-22-21

When the school funding formulas are passed every two years by the General Assembly, legislators see the bottom line percentage increases on a summary page. Figures that have appeared on this summary are listed below for the last seven budgets that I have personally observed as they were approved by the legislature.

Tuition support and dollar increases have been rounded to the nearest 10 million dollars.
Total funding and percentage increases were taken directly from the School Funding Formula summary page. Sometimes in the first year of two budget years, the previous budget amount was not fully spent and the adjusted lowered base was used by the General Assembly to calculate the percentage increase.

*As presented by the Governor. Adjustments discussed above showing diversions to private schools are not included here.

Your messages to legislators on this issue are crucial. Let your legislators know how you feel about House Bill 1005.

Grassroots support of public schools makes all the difference. 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 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. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


Monday, January 25, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 25, 2021

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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

Suspend High Stakes Student Testing Webinar - January 26, 2021
Register now - National Town Hall on Suspending High Stakes Student Testing on 1/26 at 6 p.m. EST with Congressman Jamaal Bowman, NPE Board Member Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, and many more. The event will be MC'd by Bob Schaeffer of FairTest and Ilana Spiegel, University of Colorado Board of Regents. - register here


Without offering a plan, Holcomb repeats his promise to raise teacher pay

How long do Indiana teachers need to wait? No one seems to know...not even the Governor.

From Chalkbeat*
In his State of the State address Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called increasing teacher pay a matter of “when,” not “if,” but stopped short of offering a concrete plan for how to make that happen.

In a pre-recorded address, Holcomb set an ambitious goal for teacher salaries in Indiana, which currently pays educators less on average than do neighboring Midwestern states.

“When we do this, we will be one of the best in the Midwest for teacher pay,” Holcomb said, “and we’ll be better able to attract and retain teacher talent, including attracting more minority candidates.”

Holcomb did not specify when and how that would be accomplished.


Free Market Facts And School Choice

Finding a good school for a child is not like shopping for shoes. That's why states like Indiana have public education written into their constitution.

From Peter Greene at Forbes
...the last two months of U.S. history are more than sufficient to demonstrate why allowing citizens to make a free market selection of their own preferred facts is bad for us as a country. Free market fans like to argue that only the best products win in the marketplace. But the free market doesn’t foster superior quality; the free market fosters superior marketing. And in the free market of ideas, sometimes the most effective marketing is simply, “Wouldn’t you rather believe this?”

There is no benefit to society in encouraging parents to choose post-truth fact-impaired education for their children, certainly not enough benefit to justify spending taxpayer dollars to pay for it. Choosing your own preferred facts from a wide open marketplace simply enables willful ignorance, and that is never good for society as a whole.


Trump’s ‘patriotic education’ report excuses Founding Fathers for owning slaves and likens progressives to Mussolini

“It’s a hack job. It’s not a work of history. It’s a work of contentious politics designed to stoke culture wars.”

From the Answer Sheet
President Trump’s “patriotic education” commission released a report on Martin Luther King Day that equates American progressives with European fascists and says it is “untrue” that the Founding Fathers were hypocrites for enslaving people while calling for equality in the nation’s founding documents.

The report is the product of the “1776 Commission” created by Trump late last year after nationwide Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice. He tasked the 18-member panel with promoting a “pro-American curriculum” that celebrates “the miracle of American history.”

In Pennsylvania, The Dismantling Of A Public School System

A Pennsylvania school system has been completely taken over by charter schools. There's no research that shows charters do better than real public schools. This is simply a question of the state reneging on its responsibility to provide every child a public school education. Part of what makes this story so horrifying are the similarities to Indiana's unaccountable privatization plans.

From Peter Greene at Forbes
It may well become the first district in the state to be completely—or almost completely—privatized. The district’s story is complicated—this long post skips over many other issues there—but the lesson is simple. When a district is segregated, abandoned, underfunded, and deprived of resources, it suffers. And when the state, rather than aiding it, allows it to be picked over and fed upon by private for-profit businesses, it suffers even more, creating the possibility of a community that is no longer able to fulfil the promise of a free public education for all of its children. Chester Upland seems less likely to have a happy ending and more likely to end as a tragic cautionary tale. Pennsylvania’s students deserve better.

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 18, 2021

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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


It’s been true for a decade now. Our legislators want to spend our tax dollars on exclusionary charters and private schools that are unaccountable to the public at the expense of our public schools that accept all students. The goal, it seems, is to privatize all education and eliminate the public school system.

It seems that none of the legislators who continue to choose private and privately run schools over public schools understand that public schools are mandated by the Indiana constitution (emphasis added).
Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government;  it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement;  and to provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.
Do any of our legislators think that we can publicly fund three separate school systems and not spend more money? Do any of them understand that opening additional schools (charters) where none are needed will end up costing more money?

Sadly, Indiana voters continue to return those who are slowly but surely killing public education to the General Assembly year after year.

Legislators propose expanded vouchers, ESA’s

From School Matters
In 2019-20, Indiana spent $172.8 million to provide vouchers to over 36,000 students attending more than 300 private schools, nearly all of them religious schools. HB 1005 would increase that spending significantly, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the state’s economy hard and lawmakers have said they will do well to keep school funding at its current levels.

Education funding tends to be a zero-sum game in Indiana. If private schools and other privately operated education services get more state funding – as HB 1005 envisions – it’s likely to mean less money for public school districts and charter schools.

Left out of referendums, Indiana charter schools see opening for more funding

From Chalkbeat*
Joel Hand, general counsel and lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, argues that since property taxes come from the community, they should be used to sustain traditional districts that voters control through elected school boards.

Despite his opposition, however, Hand believes the legislature is likely to take some action to boost charter school funding.

“I do think that they will be successful with getting more funding for charter schools, even in light of the pandemic,” Hand said, “because I think that legislators are going to place a higher priority on what they refer to as ‘choice schools’ over the traditional public schools.”

Indiana teachers frustrated over longer wait for COVID-19 vaccine

The disdain for teachers and their health and safety is fairly evident in Indiana.

From Chalkbeat*
As teachers in some other states line up for the COVID-19 vaccine, Indiana educators wonder when their turn will come.

It’s unclear when Indiana teachers will be eligible for the vaccine, but they will likely have to wait several weeks until Hoosiers age 60 and older and people with medical conditions receive their shots — putting them further back in line than they hoped to be.

“We are told that we are essential and important, and yet we are not on any list. We aren’t told what our plans are,” said Franklin Township elementary school teacher Sheila Sego.


Washington Post Editorial Board Gets It Wrong About Testing Students In 2021

From Peter Greene in Forbes
The Washington Post board boils their support down to a few questions. All of these questions have answers, and none of the answers are “Give the standardized tests this spring.”

How can schools create plans to make up for covid-related learning losses if those losses haven’t been measured?

The Big Standardized Tests will provide little help with this. First, they only cover math and reading. Second, the results take months to come back. So test results will be too little, too late to help districts create any make-up plans.

That said, the idea of learning loss is itself suspect, even a little ridiculous. It’s not that the pandemic won’t have affected student learning; that seems self-evident. But the various write-ups of learning loss are themselves useless, almost always expressing the “loss” in terms of “days of learning.” But “days of learning” is simply a fabricated measure that is really another name for difference in test scores (a fuller explanation is here if you want it). In other words, “we guesstimate students will probably lose X days of learning,” actually means “we guesstimate that students will score an average Y points lower on the Big Standardized Test.” So in a sense, the editors are correct—we can’t measure learning loss without test scores, because learning loss is just another name for test scores.


I will miss Jennifer McCormick

From School Matters
McCormick has been a tireless and outspoken advocate for public schools and for their students and teachers. Those schools enroll 88% of Hoosier K-12 students, yet they are often an afterthought for lawmakers and policy elites who promote charter and private schools.

I was skeptical when McCormick, a Republican, was elected in 2016. Her campaign received considerable support from advocates for school privatization, and she was part of a GOP ticket that didn’t seem to make public education a high priority. She turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

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


Monday, January 11, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 11, 2021

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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


Betsy DeVos Bails Out

The President's behavior was finally too much for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (former Ed Secretary by the time you read this).

From Curmudgucation
Well, she finally had enough.

DeVos blamed Trumpian rhetoric for the riots, called it an "inflection point" for her, and became one more GOP Trump-fluffer to suddenly discover her shock and outrage for exactly the same kind of shit that he's been doing for four years. I mean, there's something deeply disingenuous about watching someone throw gasoline and matches around for four years and only getting all pearl clutchy and knicker twisty when the completely predictable fire actually starts.

She also said "Impressionable children are watching all of this, and they are learning from us. I believe we each have a moral obligation to exercise good judgement and model the behavior we hope they would emulate." Which is as true today as it was when President Pussy-grabber talked about shithole countries and very fine people on both sides. It's an odd time to suddenly grow scruples. But at this point, I guess the wounded lame duck can't really do anything for her. The full letter can be read here. It actually starts with another rehearsal of her "accomplishments" as ed secretary.


Jake Jacobs: End the Tax Breaks for Charter Schools and the Uber-Rich

Will the Biden administration continue the Democratic/Republican quest for school privatization, or will we finally see a change? Spoiler: Don't hold your breath.

From Diane Ravitch
Joe Biden’s recent nomination of Miguel Cardona as a relatively lesser-known, less controversial selection for Secretary of Education was telling. It shows the incoming administration’s reticence to take a side in the ongoing battle over school choice and standardized testing, just like most members of Congress and the major U.S. media.

On the campaign trail, Biden drew cheers from teachers for his promise to end standardized testing, but he noticeably never added any such policy to his website. As was well known by teachers in those audiences, federally mandated tests provide no educational benefit but are the fuel in the engine driving charter school expansion.

MO: GOP Rep Tells Teachers To Take A Hike

Is it any wonder why there is a shortage of teachers? One wonders where the anger directed at, and fear of, professional educators comes from.

From Curmudgucation
So here's a jolly exchange from Twitter on Saturday.

Get a different job. No one owes you anything.

— Justin Hill (@HillForMissouri) January 3, 2021

That's Justin Hill, a Missouri GOP rep from the 108th district, showing his love and support for teachers in his state. He was a cop before running for office, so you'd think he'd know something about public service, but maybe not so much.

The New York Times Should Add a Former Teacher to Its Editorial Board

Standardized testing this year will measure the difference between the "haves" and the "have-nots." We don't need to spend millions of dollars for that information.

From Diane Ravitch
The New York Times published an editorial correctly blasting Betsy DeVos as the worst Secretary of Education in the 40-year history of the Department of Education. Unfortunately, the balance of the editorial was a plea to administer tests to find out how far the nation’s children had fallen behind because of the pandemic.

This is a misguided proposal, as I have explained many times on this blog.

A Warning: Who Is Paying for Your State’s Civics Courses?

From Diane Ravitch
If you have a few minutes to do some research, you might wonder about the connections among these three links:

First is from the extreme rightwing group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), funded by DeVos, Charles Koch, and major corporations. ALEC has 2,000 members who are state legislators. They get a free trip every year to a posh resort, where ALEC gives them model legislation to introduce in their state to promote the libertarian, anti-regulation, anti-government agenda.

Second is an article in the conservative journal Education Next...

Monday, January 4, 2021

In Case You Missed It – January 4, 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.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.

Legislators may push voucher expansion

Even with the teacher pay report suggesting a large increase in teacher salaries, Indiana's educators will likely not see any increase. The best they can hope for is that nothing will be cut. Cue the legislature to hypocritically ignore the "lack of funds" and ask for more money for private and religious school vouchers. 

When the voucher program started it was to "save poor kids from failing public schools" (the fact that the schools were "failing" was because of state neglect is beside the point). Now the voucher for poor kids will pay for families who make over $100,000!

From School Matters
At least eight House Republicans include this question in their surveys, which are posted on their internet sites: “Do you support increasing the income eligibility for Indiana’s CHOICE scholarships, giving more low- and middle-income families the option to send their children to the school that best meets their needs?”

Note that the question contains a falsehood. Increasing the income eligibility for vouchers, officially labeled Choice Scholarships, won’t change anything for low-income families. They already meet income qualifications for the program, which provides state funding for private school tuition.

Under current law, students can qualify for vouchers if their family income is less than 150% of the threshold for reduced-price school meals. They remain eligible if their family income rises to 200% of the reduced-meal level. For a family of five, that’s $113,516, two times Indiana’s median household income.

In other words, low-income families and many middle-income families already meet the income requirements. According to the 2019-20 Indiana Department of Education voucher report, a quarter of voucher recipients came from families that made over $75,000 and 7% made over $100,000.


Pay increase for teachers priority over tuition grant

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The panel's 37 recommendations for raising teacher pay all have some merit. But FWCS' Steve Corona, one of the state's longest-tenured school board members, offered another: Reduce the amount of tax money sent to private and parochial schools as vouchers.

"If they're serious about raising teacher pay in public schools, this is the fund that they need to take a look at," he said.

He's right. The cost of Indiana's voucher entitlement program grew by 924% in just seven years, from 15.5 million in 2011-12 to 158.8 million in 2018-19. More than 25% of voucher recipients come from households earning 75,000 a year or more. More than 7% of the students come from households earning 100,000-plus.

It's no coincidence that Indiana's public school teacher salaries have slipped as the cost of the voucher program has skyrocketed. Lawmakers can stop the decline by tightening income eligibility for an entitlement program sold as a way for poor students to escape failing schools. Support for today's public school teachers and the next generation of teachers should take precedence over private-school tuition for families with the means to pay it themselves.

Another Round Of Teacher Bashing

Can we stop blaming teachers and their unions whenever we disagree about school issues? Why don't we figure out what schools need to open safely.

From Curmudgucation
The level of bash, of demeaning insult, in this "selfish teachers close our schools" argument is huge. Because there are only a couple of possible explanations for the picture critics like FEE [the Foundation for Economic Education] paint:
Teachers are stupid people who don't understand the settled science.

Teachers are stupid and also lazy people who went into teaching hoping they would have to never actually work and the pandemic shut-downs are their idea of a gift from God, and they want to stretch out this paid vacation for as long as possible.

Teachers are big fat liars who are pretending not to understand the settled science so they can milk the taxpayers while providing nothing in return.

Teachers should be martyrs who want to give up their entire lives for their students, and if they don't want to do that (or, incidentally, want to be well-paid for it), they're lousy teachers and terrible human beings.
Note that all of these include the assumption that distance learning is a big fat vacation. Also, people who chose teaching as their life's work don't actually want to teach. Also, as FEE makes explicit, teachers do not have students' interests at heart. They don't care about the kids at all (which adds to the assumption of their stupidity, because if you don't care about children, teaching seems like a pretty dumb career choice, but hey--maybe you became a teacher because you couldn't manage a real job).


Democrats Need A New Theory Of Action

"'We can run three or four school systems for the cost of one' was always a lie, and it's time to stop pretending otherwise."

From Curmudgucation
Trouble is, the old plan, the one spanning both the Clinton and Obama years, is not a winner. It went, roughly, like this:

The way to fix poverty, racism, injustice, inequity and economic strife is to get a bunch of children to make higher scores on a single narrow standardized test; the best shot at getting this done is to give education amateurs the opportunity to make money doing it.

This was never, ever a good plan. Ever. Let me count the ways.

My Interview on “Democracy Now”

From Diane Ravitch
I was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan González about President-Elect Biden’s choice of Miguel Cardona. He needs not only to reverse Betsy DeVos’s four disastrous years, but 20 years of bad federal policy.

Here it is.


Biden Picks Connecticut Commissioner Miguel Cardonas as Secretary of Education

President-Elect Biden's choice for Secretary of Education is mostly an unknown...

From Diane Ravitch
...if he wants genuine reform, he will begin the process of writing a new federal law to replace the Every Student Succeeds Act and dramatically reduce the burdens imposed by clueless politicians on our nation’s schools.

Dr. Cardona is known for his efforts to reopen the schools during the pandemic. He knows that this can’t happen without the resources to reopen safely. The pandemic is surging again. It is not over. He knows this, and he will have to move with caution not to put the lives of staff or students at risk.

I will not judge him until I see how he handles not only the present dire moment, but the legacy of twenty years of failed federal policy. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Hope springs eternal. We can’t live without it.
Connecticut: A Teacher Remembers Cardona

From Diane Ravitch
...he is someone who is more interested in getting things right and in making true improvements than he is in seeing his name in lights. He acts like someone who wants to be in positions where he can make a difference for the benefit of others, not for his own aggrandizement. I can’t speak on his positions on this or that issue. We’re not friends, just former colleagues, and I’ve not said more than “hello” to him in over seven years. But there is no one I’ve dealt with in administration whom I respect more.

Biden Picks Former President of Broad Foundation as Deputy Chief of Staff

...but this choice is definitely not supportive of public education.

From Diane Ravitch
Reed has been an outspoken proponent of charter schools for decades, championing their rise inside the Clinton White House, where he led the Domestic Policy Council. But although Reed has publicly drawn the line at for-profit charter schools and vouchers, the Broad Foundation funded organizations that support both.

Reed also frowned on community, or “mom-and-pop” charter schools, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2014, “There are high-quality charter management organizations that do extraordinary work.” He said, “School districts have made the mistake of thinking they know best.”

SACS considers pay boost for subs

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
A school district that's seen its substitute teacher pool shrink dramatically because of the pandemic is looking to boost those employees' pay.

But leaders of Southwest Allen County Schools acknowledge the $5 boost to the daily rate might not expand the roster of subs.

"I'm not sure how much more we're going to attract," said LuAnn Erickson, human resources director. "I think people want to be at Southwest, they want to be subs here, and everybody's struggling with finding enough subs."
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