Friday, November 15, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #340 – November 14, 2019

Dear Friends,

News reports say 8000 teachers and public school advocates have registered for the education rally on November 19th in the Statehouse.

That is truly an impressive number.

I have been watching the General Assembly as a public education advocate for 23 years, and 8000 would make this the largest public education rally the Statehouse has ever seen during all those years.

I offer below a reprint of my education budget analysis issued last May. I thought it would be helpful to all interested in the rally to review the details of the education budget passed last April. The following analysis was issued on May 1, 2019 in “Vic’s Statehouse Notes #337,” which provided:
  • a summary of changes in the 2019-2021 budget
  • a comparison of the new tuition support budget with the six previous budgets
  • a listing of three chunks of new money totaling $763 million over two years
  • an analysis of the 70% voucher for private schools costing $19 over two years
  • an analysis of the $31.5 million going to School Scholarships for private school tuition
Informed discussions with legislators about needed additional funding must start with detailed awareness of the current budget. So, here again is the May analysis, putting the current budget in a context of the last 14 years of education spending. I offer it again below for those who are ready to dig into the details to answer the question of why a 2-year education package of $763 million is insufficient for the needs of public schools in Indiana and diverts far too much money to private schools:

Insufficient and Diverting Money to Private Schools: An Analysis of the Current Education Budget – reprinted from Notes #337 dated May 1, 2019

Click here to read Vic's Statehouse Notes #337.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #339 – August 19, 2019

Dear Friends,

“Traditional public education is nothing less than the cornerstone of democracy.” Unraveling Reform Rhetoric, p. 81

Two of the three authors of an important new book will lead off the annual ICPE membership meeting in Indianapolis this coming Saturday, August 24th. Don’t miss it!

If you support public schools and want to keep them public, we need you!

When: Saturday, August 24, 2019, 2 – 4 p.m.

Where: H. Dean Evans Community Center, MSD of Washington Township
86th & Woodfield Crossing Blvd, Indianapolis

What: Annual Indianapolis meeting of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Open to all ICPE members and to all who support public education.

Speakers are: Dr. Michael Shaffer (Ball State University) and Dr. Jeff Swensson (Ball State retired, former superintendent in Carmel) will speak. They have authored (along with Dr. John Ellis, former executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents after serving as superintendent in Noblesville and Jennings County) a new book entitled Unraveling Reform Rhetoric: What Educators Need to Know and Understand, which raises questions about recent education reforms. They will share their concerns described in the book about the differences between traditional public education and free-market schooling.

The three authors address fundamental questions about the current battle to maintain traditional public schools:

“If free market theory disconnects individuals from their responsibilities and obligations to create and maintain the public good, what happens to U.S. democracy? If what is known about the potential of traditional public education is lost, can the primacy of self-interest suffice for the good of the nation?” (Unraveling Reform Rhetoric, p. 79)

The book’s analysis is based on a premise familiar to public school advocates: “The future of U.S. students and the future of democracy depend on an inclusive, academically rigorous, and socially just traditional public education.” (p. 8)

Come and hear more from the authors!

PLUS Joel Hand will speak, our outstanding ICPE lobbyist for all nine General Assembly sessions since ICPE was founded in 2011. He will overview the 2019 session, especially ICPE’s efforts to improve the budget, and then share what he expects to emerge in the 2020 session.


9th Annual Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis

For the ninth fall, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education is inviting all ICPE members as well as all who support public education to come to the Washington Township Community and Education Center. The future of public education in Indiana hangs in the balance.

Come for information and great networking with other public school advocates. Come in support of public education!

Please join us on August 24 at 2 p.m.!

Bring a public education friend with you! RSVPs aren’t required, but feel free to email us at icpe2011@icpe2011.com to let us know you’re coming.

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 represented ICPE extremely well during the 2019 budget 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 www.icpe2011.com 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.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

NEA Hosts Candidates July 5

NEA will host Democratic candidates in a forum today, July 5, at 3 PM Eastern Time.

The event will be live streamed. Click here to watch: ra.nea.org/livestream/
America’s largest labor union, the National Education Association, will host 2020 presidential candidates at its annual Representative Assembly in Houston. Educators are poised to play a major role in choosing the president of the United States. And now we are taking this energy to the 2020 campaign where we will lead a conversation about the schools our students deserve.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #337 – May 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

The 2019 budget deal was announced on April 23rd and passed on April 24th to close the budget session.

Messages you sent to give K-12 schools better funding in the final version were successful! Thank you for your efforts!

The final funding for K-12 was higher than any previous proposal. This is true despite the latest revenue forecast that said Indiana would have $100 million less to spend. The grassroots pressure to raise K-12 funding was as high as I’ve seen it in the 23 sessions of the General Assembly that I have attended.

Despite the improvement in K-12 funding, the budget results present a mixed picture for public education in Indiana:
  • K-12 tuition support got a 2.5% increase each year, a bit higher than the 2015 increases but not as much as the 2007 budget increases. See the chart below to put these increases into historical context for the past seven budgets.
  • Giving more and more public money to private schools continued. Voucher expansion in the form of the new 70% voucher was included in the budget at a two-year new cost estimated by LSA to be $19 million. Tax credits for private school scholarships were expanded at a two-year new cost of $3.5 million. Charter school grants, given in addition to funding provided in the funding formula for charter schools, were raised by 50% at a two-year extra cost of $15 million. These three new benefits for private and charter schools total $37.5 million.
  • The funding formula estimates vouchers (Choice Scholarships) to cost $175 million in the first year of the new budget and $185 million in the second year. That money comes out of the K-12 tuition support fund cited above.
  • The funding formula estimates that in the first year voucher students will increase by 4.3% but voucher funding will increase by 9.3%. In the second year of the budget, voucher students will increase by 3.5% but voucher funding will increase by 5.6%.
  • The funding formula estimates that new charter schools will get $12 million in the first year of the new budget and $26 million in the second year of the budget. Budgets for all charter schools, except for the charter school grants mentioned above, come out of the line item for K-12 tuition support.
  • Some 60 of the 289 public school districts will get less money in the funding formula due to stable or declining student enrollments. These districts will be hard pressed to raise teacher pay or simply to maintain current programs.
  • On average, community public school districts saw funding gains in the range of 2% while voucher increases cited above are far higher.
  • Pension payments owed by school districts were reduced by 2% using the budget surplus, giving school districts an estimated savings of $70 million each year, equivalent to another 1% increase in K-12 tuition support. The problem is that this money is not distributed evenly and some small districts will get very little help from this program. The Indianapolis Star found that districts could receive a range from $1100 per teacher to $600 per teacher and that small districts might count only a few teachers in this pension plan providing minimal help to boost teacher pay.
  • The Teacher Appreciation Grant was raised from $30 million to $37.5 million each year.
  • Funding for English Language Learner programs rose from $17.5 million to $22.5 million each year.
  • Funding to pay for curriculum materials (textbooks) for low-income students remained stuck at $39 million each year, where it has been for over a decade. Low funding in this program means the state pays only a portion of the textbook costs, usually around 75%. Districts with high percentages of low-income students must pay for those textbooks out of scarce local funds.
The good news in this list is tempered by the ease that voucher-supporting groups were once again able to expand vouchers and tax credits for private school scholarships. The heavy lifting required to get more money for public school teacher pay compared to the ease by which voucher programs were expanded raises questions about the future of public education in Indiana.

Does the supermajority General Assembly leadership really want public school teachers to feel supported and respected in Indiana? If public schools falter because teachers leave the state or the teaching profession, then parents will choose private schools and private schools will win the competition that the General Assembly began in 2011. Keeping good teachers is essential to the success of public education.


Compare This Budget with Six Previous Budgets

Claims about the new budget can be weighed by comparing it to the previous six budgets. Study the table below to see how the new 2019 budget matches up with recent budgets going back to 2007.
__________________________________________________________________________

INDIANA SCHOOL FUNDING INCREASES FOR THE PAST SEVEN BUDGETS
Source: The summary cover page from the General Assembly’s School Formulas for each budget
Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 4-26-19

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.


Here is How Republican Leaders Added Up New Money for K-12 Education to Equal $763 Million

Keep in mind that when counting new money, the new money for the first year must be repeated in the second year as the base for an additional increase. Thus, the new money in the 2019 budget is 178 million for a 2.5% increase in the first year plus 178 million to match that increase for the second year plus 183 million to raise the second year by 2.5%.

That totals to $539 million.

Then the Governor’s plan to reduce pension payments by $150 million over two years was enacted.
Adding $150 million raises the total to $689 million.

Then categorical funding for specific programs like the Teacher Appreciation Fund received $74 million in new money.

Adding $74 million raises the total to the number you have heard: $763 million.


What is a 70% Voucher?

Most taxpayers have never heard of a 70% voucher. It appeared suddenly in the House budget without discussion or debate. Senator Mishler and Senator Bassler did not include it in the Senate budget approved by the Appropriations Committee, but on the floor of the Senate, the 70% voucher was put back in the budget by the Republican caucus on a second reading amendment using a voice vote. No roll call record is available of who supported this move toward more privatization of education in Indiana.

Here are the details:
  • The historic legislative fight in 2011 over the original voucher bill established a 90% voucher for families of four currently making $46,000 or less. This means that 90% of the per student support for a public school student goes to the parent to pay for private school tuition.
  • A 50% voucher was established for families of four currently making $69,000.
  • Now, for the first time in the eight year history of vouchers, $19 million more money will go to a new concept: a 70% voucher to families of four making between $46,000 and $57,500, while families between $57,500 and $69,000 would still receive a 50% voucher from Indiana taxpayers.
  • This would probably not add many students to the voucher count but would give significantly more money to the parents making between $46,000 and $57,500 who already have students in the voucher program.
  • The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says the newly proposed 70% voucher would cost an extra $7.7 million in the first year of the budget.
  • It would cost $11.3 million in the second year.
  • Adding these two years together, this 70% voucher would cost taxpayers $19 million.
  • The 70% voucher was not debated in any bill but just appeared in the budget. The secrecy of how this concept appeared is stunning. In eight years, it has never before been proposed.
  • Giving more money to voucher parents was not the General Assembly’s stated priority. No case was made that this 70% voucher solves any problem. It received no debate or public review. It was a total surprise when it showed up in the budget. This program has undercut the priority on more money for teacher pay.
Let legislators know that you strongly oppose the passage of the 70% voucher and that you think it undermines the effort to make more money available for teacher raises.


What are School Scholarships?

School Scholarships, not to be confused with Choice Scholarships, are scholarships for students to attend private schools given out by Scholarship Granting Organizations that collect donations for these scholarships, donations which give donors a 50% tax credit when taxes are filed.
  • In the first year, the budget for tax credits was raised by $1 million to total $15 million.
  • In the second year, the budget for tax credits went up another $1.5 million to $16.5 million.
  • The two-year budget total for private school scholarships in $31.5 million. That is $3.5 million higher than in the 2017 budget.
  • In this little known program, the Scholarship Granting Organizations can now raise $30 million next year for private school scholarships and $15 million (50%) will be returned to donors at tax time.
  • Here is the amazing part: There is no limit on the size of the donation. Wealthy donors who want to direct all of their tax obligation to private schools can do that and get 50% back as a tax credit. Donors to Indiana colleges are limited to a $200 tax credit for individuals, but there is no individual limit for School Scholarship donations. It is the most generous tax credit available in Indiana.
  • The School Scholarship law says that Scholarship Granting Organizations can keep 10% of their donations for administrative overhead. If donations total $30 million and use up the $15 million in tax credits, the SGO’s can keep $3 million, which is 10% of the total. It’s a lucrative business.
  • School Scholarships have raised the number of students receiving Choice Scholarships (vouchers). The voucher law was changed in 2013 under Governor Pence to say that if a student gets a School Scholarship one year, they can get a Choice Scholarship (voucher) the next year. This has been the mechanism for why so many voucher students (now 58%) have never even tried out a public school. They receive a voucher but they have been in a private school all along.
Your messages to legislators during this budget session clearly made a difference. Let your legislators know how you feel about the various provisions of the final budget.

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 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 www.icpe2011.com 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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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #336 – April 12, 2019

Dear Friends,

Attention all who support public education!

You are invited to a rally in support of better funding for K-12 education. We need you!
When: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 3:00 pm

Where: Indiana Statehouse South Atrium

Coordinated by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Event partners: AFT Indiana, Concerned Clergy, Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), Indiana Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

Everyone is encouraged to join us!
Stand up for public education! Let legislators know you care about K-12 funding in the two-year budget.

Raise the Priority in Support of K-12 Funding

We need your presence to put top priority on better funding for our K-12 students in the new budget.

Here’s the picture:
  • In January, the Governor recommended K-12 increases of 2% in the first year ($143 million) and 2% in the second year ($146 million).
  • In February, the House recommended K-12 increases of 2.1% in the first year ($154 million) and 2.2% in the second year ($160 million).
  • Yesterday, April 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Mishler, recommended K-12 increases of 2.7% in the first year ($192 million) and 2.2% in the second year ($162 million).
  • The Indiana Coalition for Public Education and other public education advocates have recommended K-12 increases of 3% in the first year ($210 million) and 3% in the second year ($230 million).
  • Indiana K-12 students and teachers deserve more financial support to maintain strong student programs and to keep strong teachers from leaving the state or changing careers.
There is no guarantee that the final budget will include the better numbers from the Senate.
  • The House and Senate now have to negotiate their differences in a conference committee.
  • If they simply split the difference, our K-12 students could lose support.
  • The Senate budget deleted the 70% voucher which cost $19 million, but the House will likely try to put it back in.
  • The Senate budget deleted the $47 million expansion of charter school grants, but the House will likely want to revive it.
  • The Senate expanded tax credits for private school scholarships by $3 million over 2 years, while the House expanded them by $5 million. We don’t need any expansion of tax credits for private schools! They are already funded at $14 million each year.
We need you on April 16th to help send a message: Our K-12 students and teachers need even more support than the Senate version!

The members of the General Assembly need to hear from you the parents, the taxpayers and the educators of Indiana about supporting better K-12 funding.

Will you join us? Will you bring friends and family? Will you wear red for public ed?

The rally will feature a welcome by Dr. Jennifer McCormick, our last elected State Superintendent of Public Education. Key speakers representing our partner groups will follow. The moderator will be Joel Hand, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education attorney and lobbyist.

Make plans now to join us next Tuesday April 16th to support our K-12 students.

A printable flyer for you to share with friends, family and colleagues is available at the ICPE website:

www.icpe2011.com

Please pass the word!

Thank you for actively supporting 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 www.icpe2011.com 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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Monday, April 1, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #335 – April 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

Make plans now to come to a Statehouse rally for better K-12 funding on Tuesday, April 16th at 3:00pm!

Mark your calendars!

Look for details and a printable flier about the rally on the Indiana Coalition for Public Education website: www.icpe2011.com.

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As we await the Senate budget, the crucial question remains: Will the Senate provide additional K-12 funding?

Where Could the Senate Find $70 Million More Money for K-12 Funding?

The teacher pay crisis is a fight to retain our strong teachers. During this crisis, Indiana does not need to expand vouchers or privatization programs.

The House budget used $70 million over two years to expand three voucher and charter school programs.

Contact your Senators to tell them that this $70 million should all be transferred to the tuition support budget to focus on the General Assembly’s stated priority: funding better pay for all teachers.

The goal is to improve the House budget to put more money into K-12 tuition support, the budget line that funds teacher salaries and all general expenses. The House budget raised tuition support by 2.1% in the first year of the budget and by 2.2% in the second year. ICPE and other groups have called for at least a 3% increase each year.

Transferring this $70 million to tuition support would help reach that goal.

Let Senators know that these three programs can be abandoned in favor of helping teachers get more pay in Indiana:

Program 1: The new 70% voucher expansion costs an extra $19 million.
  • The historic legislative fight in 2011 over the original voucher bill established a 90% voucher for families of four currently making $46,000 or less. This means that 90% of the per student support for a public school student goes to the parent to pay for private school tuition.
  • A 50% voucher was established for families of four currently making $69,000.
  • Now, for the first time in the eight year history of vouchers, the House wants to give $19 million more money for a new concept: a 70% voucher to families of four making between $46,000 and $57,500, while families between $57,500 and $69,000 would still receive a 50% voucher from Indiana taxpayers.
  • This would probably not add many students to the voucher count but would give significantly more money to the parents making between $46,000 and $57,000 who already have students in the voucher program.
  • The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says the newly proposed 70% voucher would cost an extra $7.7 million in the first year of the budget.
  • It would cost $11.3 million in the second year.
  • Adding these two years together, this newly proposed 70% voucher would cost $19 million.
  • The 70% voucher was not debated in any bill but just appeared in the budget. The secrecy of how this concept appeared is stunning. In eight years, it has never before been proposed.
  • Giving more money to voucher parents is not the General Assembly’s stated priority. No case was made that this 70% voucher solves any problem. It received no debate or public review. It was a total surprise when it showed up in the budget. This program would undercut the priority on more money for teacher pay.
Program 2: The expansion of private school scholarships raised by Scholarship Granting Organizations costs an extra $4 million.
  • In 2009, the General Assembly budgeted $2.5 million of taxpayer funds to pay 50% back to donors giving to private school scholarships through a tax credit. It was the first state money ever given to pay tuition to private K-12 schools.
  • This year the House budget raises the tax credit funding by $1 million in the first year, from $14 million to $15 million.
  • In the second year, the House budget raises funding to $16 million or by 120% of what the scholarship granting organizations (SGO’s) actually raise, whichever is more. Applying the 120% figure to $15 million means that in the second year of the budget, taxpayers could pay out $18 million for private school scholarships. $18 million would match what has been budgeted for summer school for all of Indiana for many years.
  • This automatic escalator has been proposed twice before by the House and must be defeated.
  • The school scholarship tax credit is the most generous tax credit to donors in Indiana. It gives 50% back to donors when they file their taxes with no individual limit. The 2013 voucher expansion law said that any student getting a tax credit scholarship one year could get a state voucher scholarship the next year (Choice Scholarship). This has been the mechanism for allowing students who have never been in public schools to get a voucher, a figure that has risen to 58% of all voucher students.
Program 3: The expansion of the Charter School Grants program costs $47 million.
  • Again, the stated priority of the General Assembly is to provide funds to improve teacher pay, not to give more money to charter schools. Charter schools are funded by the tuition support line item that needs to get bigger for all schools.
  • The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says the expansion of charter school grants would cost an extra $21 million in the first year of the budget.
  • It would cost an extra $26 million in the second year.
  • Adding these two years together, the proposed expansion of charter school grants would cost $47 million.
Three non-crisis programs costing $70 million!

Senators need to hear from you on these three programs. They undermine the stated goal of funding better teacher salaries and benefits to keep talented teachers from going to other states or other careers for better pay.


The Senate School Funding Subcommittee Hearing

A long public hearing was held on Thursday, March 14 allowing citizens to speak about the K-12 budget. An impressive number of teachers from all over Indiana showed up to speak about the low funding they have seen in their school district and how that has impacted their teaching and how it has hurt colleagues who have had to leave the profession due to financial hardships. The totality of the hearing for the Senators who were listening was that the teacher shortage in Indiana will only get worse until significant dollars are invested in the K-12 tuition support formula.

A similar loud message was delivered on March 9th in an impressive Statehouse rally organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association. The call for better funding has been effectively delivered, but the response by the Senate is still unknown.

The tuition support funding issue has followed this sequence in the expectations dance:
  • In November, Speaker Bosma predicted that a tight budget would mean at most a 0.7% funding increase for K-12.
  • In January, Governor Holcomb recommended a 2.0% increase each year of the budget. In addition, he called for pension payments to be taken from the surplus to give school districts about $70 million each of the next two years to be available for teacher pay increases.
  • In February, the House budget gave a 2.1% increase for the first year and a 2.2% increase in the second year, along with the pension money payments worth. they say now, $150 over two years.
  • On March 9, an impressive teacher rally attracting about 2000 on a rainy day gave notice that the House budget was insufficient to correct the teacher pay problems.
  • On March 14, the public hearing of the School Funding Subcommittee attracted not only public education organizations, such as the Indiana Coalition for Public Education (ICPE) asking for a 3.0% increase each year, but an impressive number of individual teachers and parents from Gibson County to Steuben County independently asking for better K-12 funding, a dimension that has not been seen in previous budget years.
I hope you will get involved in asking Senators for a 3% increase in K-12 funding.

Then later, members of the House need to get the same message to put a 3% increase in the budget for K-12 funding.

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 www.icpe2011.com 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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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #333 – February 18, 2019

Dear Friends,

Will the Indiana General Assembly find enough money to allow K-12 public schools to pay teachers more and to provide stable programs?

That is the overriding question as the new two-year budget takes shape. The outcome is not clear.

The K-12 budget increases listed below for the past twelve years have not provided enough to pay teachers properly. Thus, there is urgency in finding more K-12 money in this budget cycle.

The proposed budget from the House Ways and Means Committee will be unveiled tomorrow, Feb. 19th.

The budget proposed by the Senate is expected around the beginning of April.

The compromise budget putting the Senate and House versions together is expected near the end of April.

I hope you will be involved at each step in asking legislators for a 3% increase in K-12 funding.

How Big Will the K-12 Increase Be?

On Wednesday February 6th, the public hearing was held on requests for the new budget in the House Ways and Means Committee. Joel Hand, representing the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, testified about the importance of increasing K-12 tuition support by 3% in the budget. State Superintendent McCormick had asked for a 3% increase back in October.

Governor Holcomb, in his budget plan released on January 10th, called for a 2% increase in K-12 tuition support, totaling $143 million in the first year and an additional $146 million in the second year. In addition, he recommended that money from the surplus be used to pay 2% of school district pension payments, out of 7.5% owed by school districts, which he said would free up $70 million in each year of the budget for districts to use to give raises to teachers.

This was a far better proposal than Speaker Bosma was talking about in November when he said at most there would be only a 0.7% increase in K-12 for next year.

Study the table below to see the history of funding increases in the past six budgets and the prospects for next year’s funding:
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INDIANA SCHOOL FUNDING INCREASES FOR THE PAST SIX BUDGETS

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

Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 12-2-18

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 six 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.
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Three Projections for K-12 tuition support as the next line in the table:


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Contact Legislators This Week to Ask for a 3% Increase for K-12

A consensus has formed in the Statehouse that Indiana teachers are underpaid and need pay raises. The best approach to that goal is to raise K-12 funding by 3%. Two other methods suggested will not raise the base pay that teachers need to solidify their future earnings:
1) The Governor’s plan to free up pension money will provide potential bonuses for teachers on top of their base pay. Since it is one-time money, $70 million each year, there is no guarantee it can be continued in the next biennium because it is not in the ongoing budget or the line item for K-12 tuition support.

2) House Bill 1003 proposes to flag superintendents and school boards that spend too much on “operations” and too little on classroom spending that can be used for teacher pay. The penalties involve being called before the State Board of Education for public shaming. The problem is that “operations” is defined to include spending on school safety, bus safety and public information for parents in our competitive school marketplace established by the General Assembly when the school choice voucher law passed in 2011. No superintendent or school board should be given incentives to cut back on school safety, bus safety or parent information. It’s a bad idea that has passed the House but is absolutely tone deaf to the intense calls for improving school safety, bus safety and parent information. HB 1003 should be killed in the Senate with your help.
With this background, you are ready to ask House members this week and Senators later to put at least a 3% increase in the budget for K-12 funding.

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 www.icpe2011.com 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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