Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stand up for yourself and ISTA

ACTION ITEM: Please contact your House Representative immediately to urge their opposition to HB 1334.

This is your chance to stand up for your profession and the Association that stands up for you.

This morning, the House Education Committee heard HB 1334 (Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, a teacher himself), allowing the Department of Administration to contract for liability insurance for public and nonpublic teachers. This was the original bill (before an amendment) and basically invites state government to get in the teacher liability insurance business-hardly an example of free market principles generally espoused by members of the Republican caucus-but coincidentally a service that the ISTA provides as part of its membership dues.

Speaking of Association dues, Rep. Thompson then added an amendment to his bill in committee to do a number of things, chief among them, to prohibit a school employer from enabling the automatic deduction of union dues from the school employee's paycheck as voluntarily requested in writing by the employee.

Since this issue was highlighted in the Northwest Indiana Times and the Indianapolis Star beginning in November (after the election) as a legislative goal of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, ISTA has systematically contacted many members of the Republican House and Senate caucuses to ascertain the strength of support therein. Time after time, the response ISTA received in these intervening months centered on words and phrases like "unnecessary," "punitive," "retribution," and "does nothing to improve student achievement."

During public testimony on this issue, only one individual registered support specifically for the component of the bill that prohibits dues deduction-Kevin Brinegar, President of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.

ISTA testified in strong opposition and is greatly disappointed that, once again, the House Education Committee has chosen to focus on adults rather than programs in classrooms that help children succeed. The effort to take away teachers' own choice to deduct their dues, which is both voluntary and annually renewed, is disrespectful and is yet another attack on teachers-this time their professional Association.

During testimony, Rep. Thompson confirmed that his measure has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with his "philosophy" on the issue. This is not being billed as a fiscal savings measure and is surely not as demonstrated by the continued allowance of every other voluntary deduction one can conceive.

Recently, in other states with Republican-controlled legislatures, this same measure has been enacted-only to be found unconstitutional in court.

Ironically, Rep. Thompson embedded into his anti-teacher amendment the following initiatives:
(1) A $1000 state income tax deduction for certain expenditures made by teachers related to their instruction (this amounts to $34 annually);

(2) Excused from all professional growth requirements for re-licensure teachers deemed "highly effective;"

(3) Excused from 50% of the growth experiences the teacher would otherwise be required to accrue for re-licensure teachers deemed "effective;"

(4) In a blanket move, authorized "high performing schools" to seek waivers of all SBE rules.
The bill passed committee as amended along party lines with a vote of 7-3. Representative Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) excused himself from the vote until he can seek legal counsel because, as a professional educator and dues-paying member of ISTA, he wants to ensure there are no conflicts of interest.

ACTION ITEM: Please contact your House Representative immediately to urge their opposition to HB 1334. This is your chance to stand up for your profession and the Association that stands up for you.

Contact your legislators

Monday, February 11, 2013

ALERT! Anti-Public Education Bills

ISTA Members: Two anti-public education bills in the Indiana House need your attention and your response TODAY:


HB 1358:
Tuesday; House Education Committee will hear the accelerated "Parent Trigger" bill to enable a minority of parents to take over community-based public schools and convert them to charter schools run by corporate "lead partners".--HB 1358 (Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers).


  • Indiana's existing conversion charter school law is repealed (which requires both the school board and parents to agree on a conversion).
  • That law is replaced with a model that solely enables 51% of parents in a school that is labeled in the bottom two categories for three (3) consecutive years to:
  • take over the school by petitioning the state board of education to assign a "lead partner" to operate the school; and
  • place the school under the most draconian of sanctions that currently attach to schools in the bottom two lowest categories for five (5) consecutive years.
  • When is 51% not a majority? When parents are given multiple votes based upon the number of children they have in a school. Because parents are given "weighted" voting rights based upon the number of children then have in a school, a minority of parents can fundamentally change the focus, the governance, the scope of teachers' rights, and the framework of a local community-based public school. 
HB 1339:
  • Teachers:
  • Due Process: Repeals the law concerning the continuing effect of an individual teacher's contract. Without this law, contracts will terminate on their face annually and a teacher, "effective or not," will not be protected from arbitrary termination until a new contract is signed.
  • Collective Bargaining: Relative to the pro rata member/nonmember composition on committees-states that all "discussion committees" fall under this pro rata framework. Existing law exempted the bargaining team from having to adhere to the member/nonmember composition because under law, the bargaining team is the EXCLUSIVE representative.
  • States that the existence of a voluntary sick bank is bargainable but the terms of the sick bank policy are not. This reneges on the 2011 pledge that wages and benefits are bargainable. A voluntary sick bank is a benefit.
  • Removes the provision authorizing the continuing effect of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) when agreement has not been reached. The whole point of the new collective bargaining law was to get to the point of agreement. There has been only one case in which agreement has not been reached---and that situation was created by allegations of unfair labor practices having occurred. In a case such as this, the party that committed an unfair labor practice should not be "rewarded" by terminating the existing CBA.
  • Suspension without pay: Removes from law the requirement that a teacher who is subject to suspension without pay is entitled to a full statement of the reasons for the proposed suspension without pay and to be heard and to present the testimony of witnesses and other evidence. Also repeals the law that enables the school board to appoint an agent or attorney to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses for either party at the hearing to suspend a teacher without pay.
  • Teacher Compensation: Requires that each school district must submit its compensation model to the DOE and the DOE, the State Board of Accounts, and the IEERB and these bodies shall report any noncompliance to the State Board of Education -which is then required to take "appropriate action to ensure compliance."
  • Virtual Charter Schools:
  • Enables a virtual charter school to provide up to 90% of its program "virtually" and still qualify for state funding. Current law says 50% of instruction must be "real." The likely effect is to enable more home-schooled students to be virtually-instructed at the state's expense. There is no funding attached to this. There is no requirement that a student first attend a public school. Also, note in HB 1338, virtually funding was increased from 87.5% of Indiana's per pupil funding to 100% of Indiana's per pupil funding. The funding for these new students will come from existing public school k-12 funding.
  • Repeals the law that requires the DOE to report to the state on virtual schools in Indiana.
  • Charter Schools:
  • As to charter school performance reporting on the DOE website, enables each charter school authorizer to develop its own performance framework in terms of the data reported (existing law says that the annual performance data for charter schools must include the same demographic and performance data required of every other public school).
  • Administrators:
  • Provides some of the same due process "protections" to administrators that teachers have. However, because most administrators have multi-year contracts, the consequences for cancelling a contract will likely not play out in the same fashion-that being, contracts with out-going administrators generally come with some form of buyout.

Please let your representative and every member of the House Education committee know TODAY you oppose HB 1358 & HB 1339

For additional information on these two bills and to email legislators, visit:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

California Casualty Academic Award

Win $2,500 for you classroom with a California Casualty Academic Award!
Academic Award Terms & Conditions

Academic Award Terms & Conditions- Questions regarding this contest may be directed to California Casualty Management Company (“California Casualty”) at (888) 229-7526.

A contestant must be an active employee of a K-12 public school, a current member of the NEA (National Education Association), and must reside in one of the 44 states or principalities as indicated below:


Unless otherwise noted, a contestant may only submit one entry. Entries must be received by California Casualty by the specified drawing date to be eligible for the indicated drawing. There is 1 (one) drawing in a calendar year and non-winning entry forms are automatically carried forward to the next year’s drawing. The schedule is as follows:

California Casualty will be solely responsible for selecting the recipient, interpreting contest rules, and all other matters related to the contest. Its decisions will be final.

The winner will be notified, as close as possible to the timeline proposed in the drawing calendar, that his or her school has been selected as the recipient of the academic grant. The prize will be delivered in the form of a check in the amount of $2,500 made payable to the school designated on the winning entry. No prize funds go to individuals.

By entering the contest, each contestant (1) agrees to abide by the contest rules and decisions of California Casualty; and (2) agrees that neither NEA, California Casualty and their respective affiliates, directors, officers, employees and agents shall be liable for any loss or damage of any kind caused by or resulting from the contestant’s participation in the contest, (3) represents that the contestant’s registration information is accurate, (4) consents to the use of all information submitted by him/her for contest promotion purposes, and (5) assigns all rights to his/her entry to California Casualty. As a condition to receiving a prize, a winning contestant and the school/school districts affected may be required to sign legal documents that reflect these agreements, representations, consents and assignments.

California Casualty is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information supplied by contestants. California Casualty is not responsible for lost or misdirected entries. Employees of California Casualty and immediate family members (parents, spouse, siblings and children) of such employee are not eligible to participate in this contest.

Any personal data (for example, name, address, telephone number or email address) a contestant transmits online will be used by California Casualty in accordance with the California Casualty website’s Privacy Policy.

California Casualty in its sole discretion, may alter, amend, extend, modify or terminate this contest at any time. No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited.

The California Casualty Academic Award website ( may contain links to websites or social properties (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) owned or operated by parties other than California Casualty. These links are provided for your convenience only. California Casualty does not control and is not responsible for the content, privacy policies or the security of these websites and social properties.

Click here to apply online.

Click here to download a copy of this information for printing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Keep The Promise: Kruse Commends Ritz

Senator Kruse Commends Superintendent Ritz

Last week, Senator Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) opened his committee hearing (Senate Education and Career Development) with the following statement:

“We’re not going to hear any bills here in the Senate bills that reflect in any way against our new superintendent. She has been doing an excellent job so far and getting along with us very well, and I will continue to work with her the best I can,” Kruse said. [Thanks to Eric Bradner of the Evansville Courier and Press for including this in his blog, Capitol Journal]

Then, Senator Kruse publicly invited ISTA lobbyist Roni Embry to work on SB 330 (having to do with the school accreditation process) with Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary), and John Barnes (legislative liaison to the Department of Education) to ensure that the Department of Education is appropriately included in the bill.

All of this is very good news for school employees across the state and reflective of yourwork in sharing with Senators your concerns about bills that have been introduced that appear to seek to diminish the authority of the office of the State Superintendent.

ACTION ITEM: Please follow-up and thank Senator Kruse ( for his public comments supporting Glenda Ritz and for his open invitation to your ISTA lobbyists to help improve bills in his committee.