Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #329 – January 7, 2019

Dear Friends,

The Governor wants to speed up a law that would allow him to replace the State Superintendent of Public Instruction with an appointee who is not required to have experience as a K-12 teacher or a K-12 administrator.

Democracy took a hit in the 2017 session. The Indiana General Assembly passed a flawed law taking away the power of voters to choose the K-12 leader and leaving a loophole to allow appointment of someone without K-12 experience.

In the historic final vote on April 18, 2017, the power of voters to elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction was ended after 166 years. The power taken away from voters was given to the Governor starting in 2025.

Now the Governor and legislative leaders want to take power away from voters sooner, starting in 2021. Identical bills to do this have been filed in the House (HB 1005) and the Senate (SB 275).

This is a bad idea for two reasons:
1) It ends even earlier the power given to voters in the Indiana Constitution. In our democracy, Indiana voters should retain the power to elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

2) The language of the law removing this power from voters is badly flawed. Loopholes and deceptive wording make it possible for the Governor to appoint someone with no experience in K-12 teaching or K-12 administration.
Contact your legislators to oppose moving this date up and to oppose allowing anyone without K-12 experience to lead our K-12 school system. Tell them that you oppose HB 1005 and SB 275.


The Law Removing a Constitutional Pillar in 2025 Has Flawed Language and Should Not Be Accelerated

Since 1851, voters have been able to elect a State Superintendent who had an independent mandate from the electorate as the education leader in Indiana. Now, more power has been handed to the Governor.

With this vote, democracy in Indiana was diminished.

Voters who want to influence education policy in Indiana had better focus on the race for Governor. If the privatization of public education in Indiana is to be reversed, voters will need to find a candidate for Governor who will be a champion for public education. Voters will no longer be able send a message to change the direction of education in Indiana by voting for a State Superintendent as they did in 2012.


Illusory Language in the 2017 Law Means K-12 Experience is Not Required for the Governor’s Appointee

Under the current law passed in 2017, the Governor will appoint a Secretary of Education starting in 2025. The illusory language of the law detailed below leaves the impression that K-12 experience is required but when the words are examined closely, K-12 is not mentioned. Track the details below:


The 2017 Law to End the Office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction (House Bill 1005): Resurrected from a Decisive Defeat

House Bill 1005, rising controversially from a decisive defeat to be passed and signed, took a nearly unprecedented path to reach the final vote in 2017:
  • House Bill 1005 passed the House 68-29.
  • SB 179, identical to HB 1005, failed in the Senate 23-26. Many thought defeating the bill would end the proposal for this session.
  • Senate rules say that when a bill is defeated “that exact language or substantially similar language shall be considered decisively defeated and shall not be considered again during the session.”
  • In a Senate Rules Committee meeting in which Democrats pointedly argued that the rules say “shall not be considered again during the session,” the Republican leadership claimed that they were making the bill “substantially different.” Republicans had the votes to win the argument.
  • The “substantial differences” were found in three changes:
1) The date of the first appointment by the Governor was changed from 2021 to 2025.

2) A requirement of two years residency in Indiana was reinstated.

3) Qualifications were stated which give the illusion that experience in K-12 education is required to be appointed. In fact, K-12 experience is not mandated, a conclusion confirmed in a statement on the floor of the Senate by the bill’s sponsor Senator Buck while speaking against Senator Breaux’s proposed amendment which would have mandated K-12 experience: “While we are trying to consider the availability to the Governor of somebody that would be the administrator of our department of ed, I hope we realize that someone with the depth of experience of executive leadership and in higher ed such as former Governor Mitch Daniels would be excluded from that category . I think it gives the Governor a great deal of latitude in looking to somebody that has executive experience in the field of education.” (Senator Buck during second reading amendments, March 30, 2017)
  • Read carefully the new slippery language on qualifications:
“(2) has demonstrated personal and professional leadership success, preferably in the administration of public education;”
“(3) possesses an earned advanced degree , preferably in education or educational administration, awarded from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university; and”
“(4) either:
(A) at the time of taking office is licensed or otherwise employed as a teacher, principal, or superintendent;
(B) has held a license as a teacher, superintendent, or principal, or any combination of these licenses, for at least five (5) years at any time before taking office; or
(C) has a total of at least five (5) years of work experience as any of the following, or any combination of the following, before taking office:
(i) Teacher.
(ii) Superintendent.
(iii) Principal.
(iv) Executive in the field of education.
  • The word “preferably” has no meaning under the law. It can obviously be ignored. It is surprising that such a word is used in the bill. Using “preferably” means that it is not necessary to appoint a public education administrator to be State Superintendent. Similarly it is not necessary to appoint someone with a degree in education or educational administration.
  • This “preferably” language and the phrase “Executive in the field of education” open the door to appointing a business leader with executive experience in an education field such as testing or technology. Superintendents in Indiana are no longer required to have a superintendent’s license.
  • Another concern is whether it was written for a higher education official to be appointed. No reference to K-12 experience or degrees is included. It is not clear that those who wrote this legislation wanted a leader with K-12 experience.
  • After the Senate Rules Committee added these amendments, the full Senate passed the historic bill 28-20.
  • At this point, Speaker Bosma as bill sponsor had a choice. He could take the bill to a conference committee to restore the House’s bill language or he could ask the House to concur with the Senate language. After several days, he decided to opt for a concurrence vote in the House which passed 66-31 on April 18th.

Bi-Partisan Opposition and Partisan Support

Despite discussion of past Democratic leaders wanting this change, the final votes in both the House (66-31)and the Senate (28-20) on HB 1005 showed bi-partisan opposition and, except for one vote, partisan support.
  • In the House, the yes votes were cast by 65 Republicans and one Democrat, Representative Goodin.
  • In the House, the no votes were cast by 28 Democrats and 3 Republicans, Representatives Judy, Nisly and Pressel.
  • In the Senate, all 28 yes votes were cast by Republicans.
  • In the Senate, the no votes were cast by all 9 Democrats and 11 Republicans, Senators Becker, Bohacek, Crane, Glick, Grooms, Head, Kenley, Koch, Kruse, Leising and Tomes.

Contact Your Legislators

If you are concerned about who leads our K-12 school system in this unprecedented makeover of K-12 school leadership in Indiana, contact your legislators to say you oppose HB 1005 and SB 275. Tell them two things:
  • The case is clear: Appointing Indiana’s K-12 leader has undermined democracy and the damage should not be accelerated. The Governor and the Republican leadership have suppressed future disagreement between the Governor and the State Superintendent by ending the independent mandate from voters held by the State Superintendent since 1851. Since Governors are elected on many issues and education is a minor issue in gubernatorial campaigns, voters have lost their direct power to correct the course of education when they are motivated to do so, as they were in the 2012 election. Removing public dissent on education in this manner aligns with Milton Friedman’s plan to gradually deconstruct public education and fund a marketplace of private schools with public tax dollars. This puts us on a slippery slope to a weaker and weaker democracy where the power of the ballot box is diminished.
  • The language of the law must be changed to require K-12 experience before anyone is appointed to lead Indiana’s K-12 school system. The loophole language “Executive in the field of education” allowing leaders with only higher education experience or business experience related to education must be replaced with clear language requiring experience in K-12 teaching or K-12 administration.
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, December 15, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #328 – December 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

Speaker Bosma has signaled that state funding for our K-12 students could be a disaster this year, the lowest since the Great Recession.

Public school advocates need to start talking to legislators now to prevent a budget debacle.

Speaker Bosma dashed prospects for an improved state budget for our K-12 students when, as the Indianapolis Star reported on 11-21-18 (p.2A): “Bosma said lawmakers may have as little as $50 million left in new money to distribute.”

He said the Department of Child Services “will require a $270 million a year increase from their current budgeted line” out of the “$350 million in new revenues” the state is anticipating.

Speaker Bosma is not even saying the $50 million available will all go for K-12 funding, but let’s assume it does. Where does that put funding for our K-12 public school students?
  • $50 million would be the lowest K-12 increase since the Great Recession budgets of 2009 and 2011. Study the table below showing increases in each budget according to state documents. The table shows how truly low a $50 million increase is in the recent history of K-12 funding in Indiana.
  • $50 million would be a 0.7% increase, an extremely low effort. Inflation is currently running at 2.2% (latest Consumer Price Index announced 12-12-18 for the year ending November 2018).
  • $50 million would be way less than the $160 million needed to make up for inflation running at 2.2%.
  • $50 million would be way less than the $210 million (3%) increase in K-12 funding endorsed by State Superintendent McCormick in October. Public school advocates should ask lawmakers: Why is Indiana’s good economy not producing resources to educate our K-12 students?
One way to dismantle public education is to fail to fund it.

Study the table below to see the history of funding increases in the past six budgets:

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.



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.

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


Public school advocates need to go to work to speak up for a better budget than Speaker Bosma wants.

These figures show the crisis at hand if Speaker Bosma’s plan goes through to max out K-12 funding increases at $50 million.

Surely in the best economy we have had in over a decade, the parents of over 1 million K-12 students would be angry if the education of their children is shortchanged by an outrageously low budget.

Talk to or send messages to your legislators in the House or Senate now before they return to begin the long session on January 3, 2019. Everyone’s help is needed to restore a high priority to funding for our K-12 students.

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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Friday, August 17, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #326 – August 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

If you support public education in Indiana, please join us on August 25th!

Plans are in place for the 8th Annual ICPE Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 25, 2018, 2:00 to 3:30pm at the H. Dean Evans Center, MSD of Washington Township, 86th & Woodfield Crossing Blvd, Indianapolis.
  • We invited U.S. Senate candidates Joe Donnelly and Mike Braun to speak that day, in line with our bipartisan approach to supporting public education.
  • Joe Donnelly has accepted our invitation and will be introduced by Glenda Ritz as the meeting begins.
  • Mike Braun declined our invitation due to prior commitments.
  • State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick has accepted our invitation to speak and will be introduced by Suellen Reed.
  • A panel of leaders will discuss how to build bipartisan support for public education in the Indiana Statehouse.
  • We will present and then release the 2018 ICPE Legislator Report Card. Once again, ICPE has given letter grades to legislators based on their votes on keys bills in the 2017 and 2018 sessions which show their support or lack of support for public education.
Those present will hear the explanations of the Legislator A-F Report Card which will then be released to the media.

8th Annual Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis

For the 8th year since ICPE was founded in 2011, members and friends of public education will gather in the Dean Evans Center.

This meeting is open to all ICPE members and to all who support public education.

Please note the date and make plans now to join us on August 25th. Not only is an outstanding program planned, but it will also be a superb chance to network with other public education advocates.

Bring a public school friend and come!

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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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #325 – July 27, 2018

Dear Friends,

Attention all who support public education in Indiana!

Make plans now to come to the 8th Annual ICPE Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 25, 2018, 2:00 to 3:30pm.
  • We invited U.S. Senate candidates Joe Donnelly and Mike Braun to speak that day, in line with our bipartisan approach to supporting public education.
  • Joe Donnelly has accepted our invitation and will be introduced by Glenda Ritz as the meeting begins.
  • Mike Braun declined our invitation due to prior commitments.
  • We have invited a panel of legislators to discuss how to build support for public education in the General Assembly.
  • We have invited State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick to speak.
  • We will present and then release the 2018 ICPE Legislator Report Card. Once again, ICPE has given letter grades to legislators based on their votes on keys bills in the 2017 and 2018 sessions which show their support or lack of support for public education.
Those present will hear the explanations of the Legislator A-F Report Card which will then be released to the media.

Where? The H. Dean Evans Community Center, MSD of Washington Township
8550 Woodfield Crossing Blvd., Indianapolis

8th Annual Fall Membership Meeting in Indianapolis

This will be the 8th year that members and friends of public education have gathered in the Dean Evans Center since the Indiana Coalition for Public Education was founded in 2011. This meeting is open to all ICPE members and to all who support public education.


Please note the date and make plans now to join us on August 25th for a stellar program and for a great chance to network with other public education advocates.

Bring a public education friend with you!

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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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #323 – May 12, 2018

Dear Friends,

Are Muncie schools about to get a pass on school accountability and letter grades?

The Indiana General Assembly is poised to pass a bill in Monday’s special session that would allow Muncie public schools under Ball State’s control to ignore the system of school letter grades under the accountability law.

A new analysis has clarified that Indiana’s school accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow when they are running the Muncie public schools, according to the text of House Bill 1315ss which is scheduled for approval in one day on Monday.

This would be a first for Indiana. All other schools getting public dollars must participate in the letter grade system:
  • All charter schools must follow IC 20-31, the school accountability law, according to the charter school law (IC 20-24).
  • All voucher private schools must follow IC 20-31-8-3 to receive a letter grade designation, according to the voucher law (IC 20-51)
You can check this out for yourself by looking at the list of 29 laws that Ball State must follow while running the Muncie public schools on pages 32 and 33 of the proposed House Bill 1315ss, available on the Indiana General Assembly web site. The accountability law, IC 20-31, is not in the list of 29.

You can then compare this to the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow in IC 20-24-8-5. The charter school list does indeed include the accountability law, IC 20-31.

It is hard to believe that Representative Tim Brown, the author of the bill, really meant to give Ball State a pass on school letter grades as they run the Muncie public schools. I am assuming this is a major oversight that needs to be corrected in the special session.

In the hearings that I attended on HB 1315, letter grades were not discussed.

House Bill 1315ss must be amended on Monday to add the accountability law (IC 20-31) to the list of laws that Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie schools. The Indiana General Assembly has been resolute in the past that all schools must have letter grades for accountability purposes. This has been a central tenet of the plan to have a marketplace of schools in Indiana.

Contact your legislators in the House and the Senate by Monday or during the special session on Monday:
  • Tell them to amend the list of 29 laws Ball State must follow as they run the Muncie public schools. Many key laws such as bullying prevention have been omitted.
  • Tell them the list of laws to follow must include the accountability law, IC 20-31. It would be wrong to give Ball State a pass on giving letter grades to Muncie schools in a state where all charter, voucher and public schools must be given letter grades.
  • Tell them while they are at it, they should add two teacher protection laws from the list of 21 laws that all charter schools must follow that are not on Ball State’s list of 29 laws to follow under the current draft of HB 1315ss:
(1) IC 20-28-10-12 antidiscrimination; marital status

(2) IC 20-28-10-14 teacher’s freedom of association
House Bill 1315ss is flawed and incomplete. It must be amended in Monday’s special session.

Contact your legislators about these concerns. There is no reason to excuse any school in Indiana from the letter grade system.

This isn’t right.

Thank you for your active support of public education!

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 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.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #322 – May 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

Two questions:
  • Shouldn’t the students of Muncie public schools be guaranteed the protection of the bullying prevention law?
  • What’s wrong with having Ball State follow the education laws of Indiana when they take over the Muncie Community public schools?
The unprecedented experiment in HB 1315 to have Ball State run Muncie public schools “subject only to” following 29 out of hundreds of Indiana’s education laws cries out for an amendment. Allowing a public school district to follow only a small list of education laws is a first in Indiana history.

As currently written, the bill will (1) remove important protections for students, (2) remove community protections, (3) remove basic standards, and (4) remove opportunities for state grants for student programs.

It’s a flawed plan that has received little attention. For the safety of Muncie public school students and to preserve accountability to the Muncie community, HB 1315 must be amended.

Yet after a two hour hearing on HB 1315 today in the Legislative Council, the bill was approved with no amendments for consideration in the May 14th special session. The vote was 10-4, a party line vote.

To restore the laws protecting Muncie students and other important laws, contact your legislators and contact Ball State to ask them to delete Section 3 (c) on pages 32 and 33 of the proposed draft of House Bill 1315 ss.

How Does HB 1315 Remove Protections for Muncie Students?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the bullying prevention law (IC 20-30-5-5.5)
  • the law requiring instruction regarding child abuse and child sexual abuse (IC 20-30-5-5.7)
  • the law requiring a restraint and seclusion plan intended to reduce restraint and seclusion (IC 20-20-40)
  • the law requiring instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (IC 20-30-5-20)
  • the law requiring teaching the principles of hygiene, communicable diseases and disease prevention (IC 20-30-5-9)
How Does HB 1315 Remove Accountability to the Muncie Community?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law requiring a School Corporation Annual Performance Report (IC 20-20-8)
  • the law requiring superintendent contract transparency (IC 20-26-5-4.3)
  • the law that contracts must be posted on the internet (IC 20-26-5-4.7)
  • the new law requiring a policy to check employment references (IC 20-26-5-10.5)
How Does HB 1315 Lower Basic Standards?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law requiring superintendents to have a Masters degree from an accredited institution (IC 20-26-5-4)
  • the law restricting teachers in the district from serving on the school board (IC 20-26-4-11)
  • the law requiring the singing of the national anthem (IC 20-30-3-3)
How Does HB 1315 Remove Opportunities for Grants for Student Programs?

Under this unprecedented experiment, Ball State can ignore:
  • the law to receive technology grants (IC 20-20-13)
  • the law to receive arts education grants (IC 20-20-24)
  • the law to receive Alternative Education grants (IC 20-20-33)
  • the law making funds available for bilingual-bicultural programs (IC 20-30-9-13)
This isn’t right.

Ignoring these laws has nothing to do with the financial problems that Muncie is digging out of.

This appears to be one more step in the deconstruction of public education in Indiana.

In the long history of public schools in Indiana, an Indiana public school district has never been allowed to ignore the hundreds of education laws except for a cherry-picked few. It’s an ominous signal to the future of the rule of law in Indiana schools.

Ball State should actively dictate an amendment to repair these student protections or else they should withdraw from the plan. Their reputation is at stake.

It saddens me that Ball State is involved in a plan that would remove laws protecting Muncie students and the Muncie community. I am an honors graduate of Ball State, Class of 1969.

The best thing that Ball State could do is to run Muncie public schools based on the education laws that all other public school districts follow by asking for the deletion of Section 3 (c) on pages 32 and 33 in the proposed House Bill 1315ss.

What Can You Do?

If you agree that these changes are needed, please contact your House member or your State Senator this week to let them know that Muncie students should not lose the protection of the bullying prevention law or of any of the hundreds of other laws the Indiana General Assembly has passed.

This experiment to lop off hundreds of Indiana education laws makes no sense. Tell your House member and your State Senator before the May 14th special session that they must make changes to protect Muncie students and the Muncie community.

Even after a two-hour hearing today we still must ask: What is wrong with having Ball State follow the education laws of Indiana when they take over the Muncie Community public schools?

Thank you for your active support of public education!

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 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.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #321 – May 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

The Special Session of the Indiana General Assembly on May 14th has turned deeply controversial. Two pillars of public education are now at stake.

The Governor had recommended a non-controversial loan to the Muncie Public Schools in the Special Session, with the rest of the controversial House Bill 1315 to wait until the next session.

The leaders of the General Assembly announced on April 20th that they will ignore the Governor and resurrect the entire controversial House Bill 1315, and they will pass it with no amendments and no public testimony in a one day session on May 14th.

Take that.

HB 1315 was the most controversial education bill of the short session.
  • It would allow non-resident outsiders to serve on the Muncie school board and to vote on raising the school taxes of residents, an historic first for Indiana.
  • It would remove the protection of the bullying prevention law from Muncie students.
  • It would remove Muncie students from coverage by the law providing for instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse.
These provisions are wrong. The bill fails the test of common sense. It must be amended.

The thought that it almost passed in this condition is disturbing. The thought that Ball State supports the bill in this condition is hard to understand. Ball State should ask for changes to follow all Indiana education laws in order to protect students or they should walk away from the plan.

Unfortunately, this controversy will no doubt be ignored in a busy election season unless public school advocates go into action by objecting to the bill forcefully to their legislators in the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate. The General Assembly leaders have the votes to ignore the Governor’s advice and do what they want, but will they regret stirring up such controversy in an election year?

That is up to you the voters and advocates.

Why Does House Bill 1315 Deserve Your Attention and Time?

Now that a month has passed since time ran out on House Bill 1315, the full extent of its experimental departure from two pillars of public education in Indiana has come into focus.

First it violates for the first time in the 180 years of Indiana public school history the requirement that every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

Second it violates for the first time the requirement that every public school district should follow the education laws of Indiana.

The Deconstruction of Public Education in Indiana: The Pillars Keep Falling

This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It represents two more steps in the drumbeat of steps to deconstruct the system of public education in Indiana.

House Bill 1315, debated in a short session without ever going through an education committee in either the House or the Senate, takes out not one but two long-standing pillars of public education in Indiana.

That is why it deserves the attention of all Hoosiers, not just those in Muncie and Gary.

Strong forces in the Indiana General Assembly favoring the privatization of our public schools have previously acted to demolish three pillars.
  • Pillar 1: Public money should not pay for private school scholarships. This pillar fell in 2009. For the first time public money was budgeted for private school scholarships through tax credits for donors to Scholarship Granting Organizations. Taxpayers will pay $12.5 million for this purpose in 2017-18.
  • Pillar 2: Public money should not go directly to private schools. This pillar fell in 2011. For the first time, the passage of the voucher law gave public money directly to private schools. Taxpayers will pay $153 million to private schools in 2017-18, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
  • Pillar 3: Voters should elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This pillar fell in 2017, in the long session of the current General Assembly. A bill passed taking the power to select the State Superintendent of Public Instruction away from voters and giving the Governor the power to appoint a secretary of education after the 2020 election. The new law does not even directly require the appointee to have K-12 experience.
Now Pillars 4 and 5 are targeted on May 14th under the plan of Speaker Bosma and President Pro Tem Long.
  • Pillar 4: Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.
The bill would allow three school board members appointed by the Ball State board of trustees to be non-residents of the school district. It would also legally end the Gary school board in favor of a board of advisors with no pathway in law to return to having a school board.

Questions flow:
  • Will non-resident outsiders really be voting to raise the school taxes of Muncie residents?
  • Will residents resent having non-residents controlling their tax levies?
  • Will residents sue and turn this issue into an expensive legal battle for Ball State and for Indiana officials?
  • Will Gary residents really be left with no school board and no legal path to restoring their school board once the emergency manager has cleaned up the mismanagement issues that put Gary in financial trouble?
No real rationale has been offered for having non-resident outsiders on the Muncie school board except a statement by Representative Tim Brown, the bill’s author, that Ball State should be able to appoint David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates to the school board.
  • Pillar 5: Every public school district should follow the education laws of Indiana.
Quoting from House Bill 1315: “the Muncie Community school corporation is subject only to the following IC 20 provisions:”, an unprecedented watershed statement followed by a list of 29 laws.

Such language has never been used for public school districts in Indiana. The bill calls it “flexibility”. It was likened in discussion of the bill to charter schools.

The list of 29 laws does not begin to capture the body of law that the General Assembly has passed in previous decades to protect students and help them achieve. Despite claims that this bill has been vetted, it deletes vital protections for Muncie students including (1) 20-30-5-5.5 bullying prevention and (2) 20-30-5-5.7 instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse.

Students in the Muncie school district will lose the protections of the bullying prevention law and the child abuse instruction law.

With these glaring problems, passage of HB 1315 in one day with no amendments would just be wrong.

Tell legislators about this problem. They apparently haven’t heard from Speaker Bosma and President Pro Tem Long that the final language of HB 1315 that nearly passed will remove these laws protecting Muncie students and many other important laws.

Questions flow again:
  • Is the Muncie Community School district now to function like a charter school with a waiver from most education laws in Indiana?
  • Shouldn’t Muncie students be protected by the laws on bullying and requiring instruction on child abuse?
  • What laws will the students and schools of Muncie be able to ignore while the schools of Richmond, Anderson and New Castle still have to follow? Is that fair?
  • If it is deemed acceptable for Muncie students to be educated without regard to most Indiana education laws, why is it not acceptable for all public school districts to operate in the same way?
  • Is the Indiana General Assembly saying that the education laws of Indiana are no longer needed or wanted for a public school district to thrive?
This is an astounding claim to say that Muncie schools need only 29 of the hundreds of Indiana education laws to function under the control of Ball State.

While the General Assembly leaders have said this bill was vetted in the House and the Senate, the many questions about operating Muncie schools without regard to Indiana law were never reviewed by the education committees of either the House or the Senate, only the finance committees. That is not a proper review in a short session for a bill that brings into question the need for the entire list of education laws in Indiana.

What Can You Do?

This controversy will get little attention from the press during an important election season. Public school advocates need to speak up anyway.
  • Contact your Senator and your member of the House to let them know you oppose any public school district being run by non-resident board members and being untethered from state education laws that all other public school districts must follow, such as the bullying prevention law.
  • Since this is election season and candidates for the Indiana House and Indiana Senate are making many public appearances, ask them in their public forums whether they support the two precedents of (1) having non-resident outsiders serve on the Muncie school board who can vote on property tax levies for residents and (2) suspending state education laws in the Muncie public schools.
  • Share these concerns with friends and colleagues willing to contact their legislators before May 14th.
Public education will remain in jeopardy until candidates and voters in election campaigns make it clear that the deconstruction of our system of public education in Indiana and in the nation is unacceptable and is damaging to students and to our democracy.

Thank you for your active support of public education in these challenging times.

Keep doing what democracy needs!

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 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.

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