Monday, February 6, 2023

In Case You Missed It – February 6, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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.

THIS WEEK

This week is all about vouchers. Republican-led state legislatures around the country -- including Indiana -- are working to remove any oversight the states have over how education money is spent by giving parents "educational savings accounts" -- aka vouchers. Parents would get to choose where to spend their "educational dollars."

No more public school systems for the common good.

INDIANA AND OTHER STATES WANT TO PRIVATIZE PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITH VOUCHERS

Cost discussion missing in plan to increase scholarships

Besides the excessive cost which will drain money from real public schools, Indiana Senate Bill 305 doesn't require accountability for tax dollars spent by those receiving the money.

Using the money for private schools puts the "choice" in the hands of the private school. If your child is more expensive to educate, the child of the wrong parents, or of the wrong faith, then your student can be rejected outright.

Using the money for parent-chosen "educational activities" and "materials" allows parents to choose whatever they want, whether or not it's effective or appropriate.

"Expanding education scholarship accounts" means increasing school vouchers. Period. It's a privatization scheme and the vast majority of Indiana's students who attend public schools will end up paying the price with reduced funding, cuts to programs, and larger class sizes.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Lawmakers need to be honest and upfront about the long-term cost of expanding education scholarship accounts to all children between the ages of 5 and 22 with no limitations based on family income, also known as universal school choice.

The program could easily eclipse $300 million a year (or half a billion if you include what is already being spent on the state's need-based voucher program). But Republican supporters are being disingenuous at best about that.

A true dialogue can't happen without acknowledging that while the program might start small, it will grow steadily.

Indiana shorts high-poverty schools via ‘complexity’ funding

"...the legislature has shifted education funding away from high-poverty urban and rural schools and toward low-poverty schools, including those in affluent suburban districts..."

...and with vouchers, private schools!

From School Matters
It’s been a trend in Indiana K-12 education finance since 2015: While overall state funding for schools has increased modestly, funding targeted to high-poverty schools has gone down. By a lot.

Education advocates are trying to reverse that trend as the Indiana General Assembly gets to work on a new two-year state budget. They are calling on lawmakers to put more money into the “complexity index,” the part of the funding formula that directs more dollars to schools with more needy students.

“There’s an equity issue here,” said David Marcotte, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association. “The most complex students are getting short-changed.”

Complexity index funding is 39% lower than it was 2015, according to a study by Indianapolis-based Policy Analytics for the association. In 2015, total complexity index funding was $1.15 billion. Today, it’s $700 million. Schools are getting $450 million less than they used to via the index.
Vouchers Are Not About School Choice. Here's How We Know.

Vouchers are not really about choice at all. That’s just the word reformers use to suck people in. It sounds nice, but it’s not.

From Curmudgucation
Vouchers are not about choice. They're about saying, "I'll give you a couple grand to sign away your rights to a free and appropriate public education." They're about using that deal to get one step closer to Milton Friedman's dream of education being a cost shouldered by parents, not society. In other words, not just privatizing the delivery of education, but also privatizing the responsibility for it.

It's about not having to pay taxes to educate Those People's Children. If at the same time we can use some taxpayer dollars (collected from Other People) to also further some "Kingdon Gains" and fund some private religious schools (just the Right Ones), that's a win-win.

I'll end with my usual caveat--there are undoubtedly some folks out there who sincerely believe that vouchers are a good way to a pursue real school choice. Believe it or not, I myself can imagine what a true functional and beneficial school choice system would look like. And it wouldn't look anything like what has been ramming its way through state legislatures in the past few years.

Florida: Republicans Plan to Offer Vouchers for All Students, But No Details on How It Will Be Financed

Just like in Indiana...

From Diane Ravitch
Now that Florida is a red state, the legislature plans to offer vouchers to every student. The legislators expect to do maximum damage to public schools, which will inexorably lose funding and students. Nothing has been said about how to pay for the proposal. Voucher schools in the state are mostly religious and are completely unregulated. Neither their principals nor their teachers need to be credentialed. They are also free to discriminate on any grounds.

The Miami Herald reports...

An Online Site Where Homeschoolers Teach Their Children to Be Nazis

When your state gives parents money to use unencumbered by accountability, some might choose this...Is this where you want your tax dollars to go?

From Diane Ravitch
Please read the entire article. It’s too long to repost in its entirety. It is awful that parents would do this, and worse that it is subsidized by public funds in many state voucher plans.

Mathias writes:

On Nov. 5, 2021, a married couple calling themselves “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon” appeared on the neo-Nazi podcast “Achtung Amerikaner” to plug a new project: a social media channel dedicated to helping American parents home-school their children.

“We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” Mrs. Saxon told the podcast’s host. “And by home-schooling, we’re going to get that done.”

The Saxons said they launched the “Dissident Homeschool” channel on Telegram after years of searching for and developing “Nazi-approved material” for their own home-schooled children — material they were eager to share.
**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is 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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

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Monday, January 30, 2023

In Case You Missed It – January 30, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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.



THIS WEEK

Some of the most popular items on our social media feed this week were for events or legislative deadlines that have passed. One way to keep up is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and on Post (a new Twitter-like platform). This is especially important during the yearly legislative sessions. Many of our posts are for immediate calls to action and waiting for the weekly summary is too late.

Today we have two posts by Vic Smith of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. The Indiana General Assembly is continuing its years-long attack on public education. They are attempting to politicize school boards, and, as usual, expand the state's voucher program. For more information visit the ICPE website.

If you live in Indiana please contact the legislators listed in the posts below and let them know your opinions and your support of public education.

INDIANA LEGISLATIVE SESSION NEWS

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #370 – A radical plan

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education
The Indiana Senate Education Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would freeze out community members, taxpayers and even state leaders from any influence over what the students of Indiana study. It would mark the end of state standards.

Yes, you read that correctly. Only parents would control the curriculum of their student if they opt for an Education Scholarship Account (ESA). Taxpayers who pay approximately $7000 a year for each student would have no voice.
  • The Governor wants schools to prepare students for the workplace. ESA parents could ignore him.
  • Those who love democracy want students to prepare for citizenship. ESA parents could ignore them.
  • Those who love the arts want students to experience the arts. ESA parents could ignore them.
This radical plan to fund home schools and micro schools through accounts available online to any parent who applies could dissolve public education in Indiana in a few years.

Senate Bill 305 was approved in the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 8-5.

If you object to ending public education by way of universal ESA’s, send letters of opposition to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the next committee to review the bill.

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #371 – Partisan School Boards

From the Indiana Coalition for Public Education
Breaking long Hoosier traditions, Senate Bill 188 would change school boards from non-partisan to partisan. It’s time to contact Senators before the bill is heard on Monday to express your strong opposition to this damaging change to our public schools.

Making school boards partisan is a bad idea. It would further divide our state into partisan camps and create partisan controversies and ill-will in the boards running public schools that serve all children.

This proposal comes from the same Republican party that in 2017 and again in 2019 passed bills to appoint rather than elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an elective office for 166 years, saying at the time that politics should be taken out of K-12 education.

How quickly they forget.

What bad consequences would this change bring?


Share these concerns with legislators:
  • Changing to partisan school boards will make a bad teacher shortage even worse. This change will be so repulsive to many non-partisan teachers that it could be their last straw to consider leaving the state or the profession. Teachers in training are deciding whether to stay in Indiana or to teach in surrounding states. Knowing that public schools are run by partisan school boards will discourage young teachers from beginning their career in Indiana.
  • Many highly qualified school board candidates would run in a non-partisan election but would not get involved if they have to run in a partisan election as members of a party.
  • Political bosses who are not on the school board could control school board actions when school board members know that they owe their board seat to party politicians.
  • Party slates would soon become part of every election, allowing state and local political bosses to control who gets to run for school board.
  • The partisan majority on the school board would soon establish a partisan test for selecting a superintendent.
  • A partisan superintendent may set up partisan tests for hiring administrative staff members or even teachers in the district.
  • Since the legislature voted eight years ago to remove the requirement that superintendents must earn a superintendent’s license, a politically partisan school board could hire any politically connected individual to be the superintendent, whether or not they were qualified based on knowledge of schools.
  • A regular dose of partisan arguments in local school board meetings will soon sour local communities on the very concept of public education.
  • A change to partisan school boards would allow the party in power to control school board reactions to legislation in the General Assembly as the supermajority year by year brings bills which lead to their ultimate goal of universal vouchers: to end public education and educate all students in a marketplace of private schools.
  • This proposal reverts to our history prior to the 1959 school consolidation reform law when some township trustees who ran the schools used political tests for hiring teachers.

VOUCHERS

Utah: House Passes Voucher Bill, Despite Voters Decisive Rejection in 2007

Remember when Indiana voters approved any of the expansive voucher bills the Indiana General Assembly keeps passing? No? Neither do we!

From Diane Ravitch
Utah’s House passed a voucher bill, even though the state voted against them by 62-38% in 2007. Republicans in Utah are determined to bypass a referendum, as they are in other states, because voters have never passed one. Voters don’t want to defund their public schools.

You can bet that 70-80% of the students who get vouchers are already enrolled in private religious schools. That’s the proportion reported in every state that has vouchers. The small number who ask for vouchers will lose ground academically and eventually return to their local public school. The research is unequivocal: vouchers do NOT improve academic achievement. They are a gift to parents whose kids are already in private schools.

ALLEN COUNTY SCHOOL NEWS

Carroll revamp price tag learned

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Renovating and expanding Carroll High School to accommodate 500 additional students could cost $46.3 million under preliminary plans shared this week with district officials.

The Northwest Allen County Schools board - which is also considering projects to address overcrowding at the middle schools and central office - will likely dedicate time for public input at a February or March meeting, board President Kent Somers said Monday.

"This is obviously a major undertaking," he said. "It'd be important to get feedback. We can't wait until the strategic planning discussions are done."

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is 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 fortwayne.com/subscriptions/ [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

In Case You Missed It – January 23, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. 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.
THIS WEEK

The new year brings new legislative sessions. Most of this week's stories (and probably for the foreseeable future) are about attempts by Republican-led legislatures to destroy public education -- whether intentional or not -- by transferring public money to private schools.

We start with the Network for Public Education's Carol Burris who writes about the impact of the pandemic.

PANDEMIC, PRIVATIZATION

What Happened to the 1.3 Million Children Who Stopped Going to School?

School privatizers want you to believe parents are abandoning the public system, but that’s not the whole story.

From The Progressive Magazine
Between the fall of 2019 and 2021, 1.3 million children left the American public school system, according to Education Week. For those who care about the welfare of children, this sharp decline is worrisome. We know that enrollment declines were the steepest in large cities, where our neediest students reside and where COVID-19 was more devastating.

How many have dropped out, working in the underground economy or languishing at home without schooling? The honest answer is that there is no comprehensive accounting of where (or if) all of those 1.3 million children are now being schooled.

However, what should be a national concern centered on the welfare of children has instead become promotional material for those who wish to eliminate public schools. The libertarian right and its allies, including the Center for Education Reform, have chalked up the decline to a story of unhappy public school parents exercising school choice. But is it?

EDUCATIONAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS -- EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

Don’t Be Fooled. Education Savings Accounts are a Taxpayer-funded ATM for Private and Homeschool Parents

The latest story from Public Voices for Public Schools by Nick Covington - Don’t Be Fooled. Education Savings Accounts are a Taxpayer-Funded ATM for Private and Homeschool Parents.

Nick exposes how the Iowa GOP seems intent on following the Arizona voucher model, creating a program that will end up as a similarly universal slush fund of public money for well-off parents who already send their kids to private schools. Read Nick’s entire story on Public Voices for Public Schools

From Public Voices for Public Schools
With re-election in the rear-view mirror, the Republican trifecta in Iowa has made its intentions clear: ending public education as we know it is on the 2023 legislative agenda. Among the tools for this would-be unmaking is an enormous Education Savings Account (ESA) scheme re-branded by Governor Kim Reynolds as “Student First Scholarships.” While Reynolds and the GOP legislature will undoubtedly assure Iowans that eligibility and cost will be limited – by placement, by income, or a capped number of applications – the end-game is always the same: universal eligibility, at exorbitant cost, that turns public money into a taxpayer-funded ATM for private and homeschooling parents.

Just look at Arizona, where a decade ago “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts” were sold to taxpayers as a limited-eligibility program intended for students with special needs. The very next year, the program was expanded to include students without special needs and those attending public schools that had been poorly rated by the state. Further expansions followed nearly every year until this summer, when then Governor Doug Ducey signed “the nation’s most expansive school voucher law,” making every K-12 student in the state eligible for an ESA.
Drowning Public Education in the Bathtub

More on the Arizona ESAs...

From RestoreReason.com
...they’ve been chipping away at the amount available to district schools by the continuous expansion of privatization options.

Guess you’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the battle over vouchers (Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) during the past decade. ESAs were enacted in 2011 and GOP lawmakers have been steadily expanding these vouchers over the years. In 2022, (I’m really cutting to the chase here), they were finally successful in enacting a universal expansion. Not only are students no longer required to have previously attended a district school to qualify for a voucher, but there are no guardrails or caps and no transparency or accountability for private schools. And, only two months into the new law, AZ DOE had received nearly 30,000 filings for the vouchers, totaling an immediate hit to the state fund of $210M. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee only budgeted $33M for the program for the 2022-23 school year, but some now estimate the bill could approach as much as $500M.

Senate panel to consider ‘universal voucher’ bill

Not to be outdone by Arizona and possibly Iowa, the Indiana General Assembly is set to expand our state's voucher program to ESAs. This would put the money for public education into private hands with no fiscal or educational oversight. In essense, the state is stripping the public schools of needed funds. "But the public schools aren't doing their job?" And they won't be able to without full funding.

Parental choice or money laundering? After you read this article, check out the next item on our blog today.

From School Matters
An Indiana Senate committee will consider a proposal this week for a universal private school voucher program that would be open to any elementary or secondary-age student in the state.

The legislation, Senate Bill 305, would accomplish the goal by expanding Indiana’s education scholarship program. The program was created 2021 with little fanfare and was initially limited to students who qualify for special education. SB 305, which would extend it to all students, is on the agenda for a Senate Education and Career Development committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Under ESA programs – more commonly called education savings accounts – the state sets up an account for each qualifying student and provides it with funding for private school tuition and other educational expenses. Under SB 305, each student’s account would receive the same per-pupil funding that the state provides to local public schools. On average, that’s about $7,500.

VOUCHERS: JUST ANOTHER MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

Diane Ravitch in Conversation with Josh Cowen

From Diane Ravitch's Intro: "...70-80% of the students who use vouchers were never enrolled in public schools. Many return to the public schools. The political pressure for vouchers comes from politicians and parents seeking a subsidy for students already attending private and religious schools. The claim that they will help “save kids from failing schools” is a hoax to cover up the real purpose of vouchers: to transfer funds to private and religious schools."

From Diane Ravitch and the Network for Public Education
The Network for Public Education invites you to join us for a video conference with NPE President Diane Ravitch. Diane’s guest is Josh Cowen, Professor of Education Policy at Michigan State University. Dr. Cowen has been studying school choice, teacher labor markets, and other policies for nearly two decades, and works directly with policymakers, stakeholders and media professionals to understand the consequences of various education reforms.

INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WOULD MAKE TEACHERS LGBTQ+ POLICE

Indiana bill would require teachers and schools to report student requests to change names, pronouns

Chalkbeat believes that the Indiana General Assembly will avoid "some of the controversial social issues that defined the last legislative session..." That remains to be seen, but one social issue Hoosier legislators -- actually, the Republic supermajority -- are not avoiding is gender equality. LGBTQ+ students, and especially transgender students, are seriously at risk. The party of "small government" is determined to intrude government into what ought to be personal family issues.

From Chalkbeat: Indiana*
Gender identity and transitioning are the focus of a number of bills filed by Indiana lawmakers in the 2023 session, including one that would require teachers and schools to disclose if students request to change their names or pronouns.

The focus on transgender youth this year builds on similar themes from the 2022 session, when lawmakers passed a controversial bill to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports. At the same time, lawmakers appear to be steering clear of bills on other controversial social issues in schools that have sparked previous disputes in Indiana and elsewhere.

The proposed legislation is causing alarm in some camps, including the ACLU of Indiana, which has called for action to stop the “record number of anti-LGBTQ bills” in the Indiana legislature, referring to them as a “slate of hate.”
*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.

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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #369 – January 19, 2023

Vic Smith provides more details on why the General Assembly should reject SB 305. 

1. Public schools would lose an average of $7000 per ESA student.
2. More than 30,000 homeschool parents would get an ESA totalling more than $250 million.
3. Taxpayers who are paying the bills would have no say in what was taught. No elected school board would be there for fiscal and educational oversight.
4. In an era when extremist ideology from the left and from the right is a major concern, there is no protection in SB305 from funding home schools run by extremist parents.
5. Parents getting the ESAs are not required to meet any standards except to take the ILEARN test, however, there are no consequences for their students who fail ILEARN.

Write or call members of the education committee before Wednesday, January 25. Email addresses are included, below.

For more details on these reasons and links to the members of the education committee, continue reading Vic's Statehouse Notes #369, below.

Vic Smith writes the Statehouse Notes for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. Statehouse Notes are an important source of information about education-related bills in the Indiana General Assembly. Subscribe to the Statehouse Notes and become a member of ICPE. You can join by clicking HERE.

Number 369- January 19, 2023


Vic's Statehouse Notes
By Dr. Vic Smith
Dear Friends,

We have until next Wednesday, January 25, to convince Senate Education Committee members that Senate Bill 305 would fatally wound public education. 

Will you help defend public education?
The Threat to the Existence of our Community Public Schools

Fifty years ago the economist Milton Friedman proposed a plan to end government involvement in public schools. His followers have brought his plans to life one step at a time. Senate Bill 305 would give the parent of every student an Educational Savings Account via an online application to the Indiana Treasurer. The ESA (Education Scholarship Account) would be equal to 100% of the money now given to the public school district, an increase from the current 90%. 

Public schools would lose an average of $7,000 per ESA student.

The parent would have full control of approximately $7,000 to direct to private providers of their choice, providers approved by the Indiana Treasurer.
It’s a formula that would strangle the funding for our public schools in just a few years, as more and more home school parents and independent micro school parents take the diverted money.

This is a watershed bill for public education. This is a test of whether public schools will survive and thrive in Indiana or instead will enter a death spiral.  
No one mentioned Milton Friedman in Wednesday's hearing on Senate bill 305. Fourteen testified against the bill and thirteen testified for the bill. The charge that the bill would bankrupt our budget when some 37,000 home school parents get an ESA at a total cost of $259 million was deflected by the bill sponsor, Senator Buchanan. He said the costs would be capped by the Appropriations Committee in the budget, as they are capped now at $10 million for the special education ESA’s. He repeated two different times that he would be happy with a new $10 million cap for SB 305.

When pressed on who would get the ESA’s if the budget is capped, he said it would be decided by “first come, first serve.” This obviously implies that future budgets will have higher and higher caps.

Several of those testifying for the bill were parents currently getting an ESA for their special education student. They clearly don’t realize that if the bill passes, opening the gates to all students on a “first come, first serve” basis, some of them will lose their current ESA if they are not quick to apply. The bill does not set aside dollars to fund previous ESA parents, and they could lose out.
The Threat to our Democracy

Taxpayers who are paying the bill would have no say in what is taught in the home schools or micro schools of ESA students. The new required civics course would be ignored.

When the debate about vouchers for private and religious school tuition heated up in 2011, Senator Brent Steele sent a letter to every legislator alerting them to his deep concerns that school tuition money might go to private schools teaching extremism. He authored an amendment that to apply for tuition vouchers, schools must agree under penalty of perjury to follow the same civic education statutes supporting democracy that public schools are required to follow. Those provisions in the voucher law still stand today, but they are not included in the ESA bill, SB-305

In an era when extremist ideology from the left and from the right is a major concern, there is no protection in this ESA plan from funding home schools run by extremist parents using your tax dollars. The opening to discrimination and to teaching prejudice is clear. This is a real threat to our democracy.
The End of Standards in Indiana 
 
Parents getting an ESA are not required to meet any standards except to take the ILEARN test. There are no consequence for failing the ILEARN.

There is no requirement to study specific subjects. All a parent needs to do to get the money that normally goes to schools is to fill out a simple online application saying they will spend “part of the money” so their student studies “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” Note the “or” in that sentence. No art, no music, no foreign language will be required. 

After two decades of exhaustive work, the high standards Indiana has adopted for its students will be gone. Businesses thinking about moving to Indiana will not be impressed that we are allowing state standards to be ignored.  
The vote will be during the Senate Education Committee meeting Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

Senate Education Committee members need to hear from hundreds of public school advocates that Senate Bill 305 is wrong!  Giving education money directly to unaccountable parents instead of to public schools run by public school boards is wrong for Indiana!

It would undermine all that has been done to build up our public schools over the last 170 years as the centers of our communities and the cornerstone of our democracy.

You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the "TO" field of your email:


 
Write or call committee members before Wednesday, January 25!

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!
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. We need all ICPE members to renew their membership if you have not done so.

Our lobbyist, Joel Hand, represents ICPE extremely well. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work in 2023. 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!

Click the button below to visit ICPE’s website at www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!
Vic Smith is a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969, serving 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.

Vic received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, he was named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education and received the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #368 – January 16, 2023

Senate Bill 305 will be heard in the Senate Education Committee at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2023. SB305 is a universal ESA bill, which makes Educational Savings accounts available to all students in Indiana. What's wrong with ESA's?

1. No public oversight: public tax dollars could be spent without any elected school board oversight.
2. No student standards for accountability: The approximately $7000 per student ESA would be given without any requirement for standards accountability.
3. No protection from extremism.
4. No criminal background checks.
5. No funding relief for public schools.

For more details on these reasons and links to the members of the education committee, continue reading Vic's Statehouse Notes #368, below.

Vic Smith writes the Statehouse Notes for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. Statehouse Notes are an important source of information about the education-related bills in the Indiana General Assembly. Subscribe to the Statehouse Notes by becoming a member of ICPE. You can join by clicking HERE.

Number 368 - January 16, 2023


Vic's Statehouse Notes
By Dr. Vic Smith
Dear Friends,

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

The Senate is throwing the big one at public education in the first education committee meeting.

Today it was announced that Senate Bill 305, which carries the seeds to completely unravel and privatize public education in Indiana, will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at their 1:30 meeting in the Senate Chamber.

Senate Bill 305 is the universal ESA bill, that is, making all students eligible for Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s) through the office of the Treasurer. Currently, only special education students are eligible for ESA’s due to language passed in the 2021 budget. About 100 special education students applied for ESA’s so parents, with no accountability, could get taxpayer money and make all decisions about providers.

Now, Senate Bill 305 would allow all parents, without accountability, to get taxpayer money for a home school or an independent school. Taxpayers who are paying the bill would have no say in what is taught. 

By Wednesday morning, Senate Education Committee members need to hear from hundreds of public school advocates that Senate Bill 305 is wrong!  Giving education money directly to unaccountable parents instead of to public schools run by public school boards is wrong!
It would undermine all that has been done to build up our public schools over the last 170 years as the cornerstone of our democracy.  
What are ESA’s?

For those who would privatize our public schools, the goal is in sight.
Followers of Milton Friedman in Indiana have long had a plan to undercut our public schools and give tax dollars for K-12 education directly to parents rather than to our public schools. The mechanism is called Education Scholarship Accounts. 

The 2021 General Assembly, despite vigorous opposition, already approved ESA’s for special education students by attaching the proposal to a popular budget. Now, SB305 proposes to expand ESA’s to all students, known as universal Education Scholarship Accounts, the holy grail of school privatizers.
 
What is wrong with ESA’s?

Simply put, ESA’s would bring the demise of public schools in Indiana. The flaws are compelling:

NO PUBLIC OVERSIGHT. Public taxpayers would be paying for home schools or independent schools but would have no way to influence or oversee what is taught or how they are run. Instead of giving education money to a publicly chosen board to run schools for the entire community under the transparent rules of democracy, ESA’s would give money with no public input to parents who would pick all providers, including those without strong credentials, to teach their children or in their independent school. 

NO STUDENT STANDARDS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY. The law sets no standards at all for ESA parent grants. Under the current radical ESA plan, all a parent needs to do to get the money (approx. $7000) that normally goes to schools is to fill out a simple online application saying they will spend “part of the money” so that their student will study “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” No art, no music, no foreign language will be required. The high standards Indiana has adopted will be gone. Businesses thinking about moving to Indiana will not be impressed that we are allowing state standards to be ignored. 

NO PROTECTION FROM EXTREMISM. In an era when extremist ideology is a major concern, there is no protection in this ESA plan from funding home schools run by extremist parents using your tax dollars. The opening to discrimination and to teaching prejudice is clear. This is a real threat to our democracy. 

NO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS. While teachers and even school volunteers must pass criminal background checks to work with students, parents of eligible students can get approximately $7000 of taxpayer money for their home school with no criminal background checks regarding previous child abuse, neglect or fraud charges. The potential for fraud is an obvious problem.

NO FUNDING RELIEF FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Every time a student signs up for an ESA, the $7000 or so the local public school used to get will disappear from the school budget.  Poorly funded programs will start a death spiral for the community public schools. Schools serving both low income and high income areas will feel the funding pinch.
 
Write Committee Members Before Wednesday Morning!
 
Let your Senator and the following Education Committee members know about your strong opposition to SB305:

You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the "TO" field of your email:


 
Our public schools that have served as the backbone of our democracy for 170 years deserve our protection from this radical scheme.
 
Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!
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. We need all ICPE members to renew their membership if you have not done so.

Our lobbyist, Joel Hand, represents ICPE extremely well. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work in 2023. 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!

Click the button below to visit ICPE’s website at www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!
Vic Smith is a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969, serving 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.

Vic received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, he was named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education and received the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.