Friday, March 11, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #260 – March 10, 2016

Dear Friends,

The debate is over. The Senate has passed this session’s version of voucher expansion in SB 334 which had been tucked at the last minute into House Bill 1005.

Unlike in the House where the bill passed by one vote, the Senate vote was 33-17.

The bill will now become law after Governor Pence signs it.

Again, the push by the current leadership of the Indiana General Assembly to expand private school vouchers marches on. Continuous voucher expansion has been the theme of the General Assembly since the historic 2011 vote establishing the voucher program. The nature of next year’s voucher expansion will be determined by the voters in November.

A Spirited Debate

HB 1005 passed the Rules Committee this morning on a party line vote, 8-4.

Then this afternoon, an unusually long 45 minute debate over the adoption of the Conference Committee Report on House Bill 1005 showed that this bill had become extremely controversial.

Senators Kruse, Merritt, Hershman, Brown, Yoder, Bray, Schneider, Raatz and Eckerty all spoke for the bill.

Senators Lanane, Becker, Rogers, Taylor, Randolph and Stoops all spoke against the bill.

Senators Kruse and Hershman both tried to make the case that this was not a voucher expansion bill because it does not expand the definition of students eligible for a voucher, as did the 2013 voucher expansion bill. Senator Becker replied emphatically that the bill does expand vouchers because it expands the time window when vouchers are available so that more vouchers will be given out by the state in the spring semester.

The Vote

The opposition was bipartisan, with 7 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting NO.

Republicans (7) voting no: Senators Alting, Becker, Grooms, Head, Leising, Tomes and Waltz.

Democrats (10) voting no: Senators Arnold, Breaux, Broden, Lanane, Mrvan, Randolph, Rogers, Stoops, Tallian and Taylor.

Public education advocates should thank all 17 for their no vote.


Support for the bill was not bipartisan, with 33 Republicans voting YES.

Republicans (33) voting yes: Senators Banks, Bassler, Boots, Bray, Brown, Buck, Charbonneau, Crider, Delph, Eckerty, Ford, Glick, Hershman, Holdman, Houchin, Kenley, Kruse, Long, Merritt, Messmer, Pat Miller, Pete Miller, Mishler, Niemeyer, Perfect, Raatz, Schneider, Smith, Steele, Walker, Yoder, Young, Zakas.


The Future is up to the Voters

After establishing the voucher program in the legendary legislative battle of 2011, vouchers have been given more funding and made easier to get by the General Assembly in 2013, in 2015 and now in 2016.

Do the citizens of Indiana want ever expanding vouchers programs to privatize our public schools bit by bit?

That is a question the voters will answer in May and November. I hope all public education advocates will participate in the vitally important primary and general elections of 2016, our bicentennial year.

Your messages to legislators have made a huge difference in this debate!

Thanks for all your work and for all the messages you sent this session in 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #258 – March 9, 2016

Dear Friends,

Voucher expansion hangs in the balance as the General Assembly ends its work tomorrow, March 10th.

As of this morning (March 9th), neither Senate Bill 334 nor its new home House Bill 1005 are listed on the House or Senate floor agendas. That means a final vote is likely tomorrow on the last day, although action late today is possible.

Your messages of opposition to voucher expansion have turned this plan into a cliffhanger. The word in the halls of the Statehouse is that the majority leadership of the General Assembly driving these decisions does not want to appear anti-teacher going into the fall elections.

Let them know that you think any voucher expansion is anti-teacher. Tell them you think further damage to public education is anti-teacher.

Before the final vote on House Bill 1005 in the House and in the Senate, let members of the House and Senate know that you oppose HB 1005 and the voucher expansion of SB 334 that it now contains. Tell them you don’t like the maneuvering and that you think voucher expansion is taking Indiana in the wrong direction.


You have one more day to help in this legislative battle. Send a final message of opposition if you possibly can to both your Senator and your member of the House or to other legislators.

Your messages have made all the difference. Let them know where you stand on voucher expansion.

Let them know that in Indiana’s bicentennial year, the issue of voucher expansion is too important to be the subject of last minute backroom maneuvers.

My “Testimony Not Given”

When I heard Monday that SB 334 would go to Conference Committee, I prepared testimony thinking that there would be a Conference Committee meeting on SB 334 sometime Tuesday where brief public testimony might be taken.

Now there apparently will be no such committee meeting and no opportunity for a final round of public testimony.

The testimony below will apparently never be heard.

I have copied my “testimony not given” below in case you want to use any of the new questions I raised about the undefined partial year voucher and Indiana’s policies on expelled students as you contact legislators:

“Testimony Not Given” on SB 334 – No Conference Committee was called after all

“I have opposed this bill expanding vouchers because the language of the bill did not match Senator Yoder’s stated purpose to help drop outs who are recovering from difficult circumstances. The language of the bill says nothing about helping drop outs. SB 334 should have been amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a general increase in midyear voucher transfers, estimated by LSA to cost $2.1 million per year.

The more I have analyzed this bill, the more problematic it appears. Today I would raise two new questions that I did not hear raised in previous hearings:
1) The bill establishes a second window of applications for a voucher in the spring semester and thus implies for the first time a partial-year voucher, but this partial voucher is not defined in the bill. LSA assumed it was exactly half when they did the fiscal. Is the amount exactly half? Does the spring semester student wait until spring semester to enroll? Or can the student transfer to a voucher school at any time, even before spring semester? Is the voucher prorated by day? The bill does not define the partial-year voucher to answer these basic questions. This bill is not ready for passage.
2) Is SB 334 the first program that gives taxpayer money for expelled students during the school year for which they are expelled? Expulsions are for serious problems, including bringing guns or drugs to school or threatening the school. A state law says that expelled students as part of their penalty cannot be enrolled in another public school for the balance of the school year in which they were expelled. The sponsors of SB 334 said the bill was needed to help expelled students go to The Crossing, a private school that helps drop outs and expelled students.

Is SB 334 now going to provide public money for these students to transfer to a private school when the law says that they can’t transfer to another public school as part of their penalty? Is that wise policy? Is this undermining the meaning of expulsion?

Will students expelled for the most serious offenses including gun violations or serious threats to the school be allowed to simply transfer to a private school with a voucher? Are there major expulsion offenses for which taxpayer money should not be used when students are expelled for the most serious reasons?
I urge you to correct these serious deficits in this bill. The definition of a partial voucher should be clear and the treatment of expelled students transferring to private schools should be clarified in relation to previous state policies on expelled students so as not to undermine the meaning of expulsion.

Indiana should say no to ever-increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion. We don’t need an expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.

I urge you to clarify these issues and to focus this bill on the sponsor’s stated purpose of drop out recovery for high school students in difficult circumstances.”

End of “Testimony Not Given.”


Previous Points of Opposition are listed here again for your convenience: Please share one or more of these concerns with any and all legislators. Both the House and the Senate will vote one more time on HB 1005 by tomorrow, March 10th!
  • Sponsors in both the Senate and the House said the bill would help a private school called The Crossing get funding to help drop outs, but the language of the bill says nothing about drop outs.
  • The bill should have been amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a huge increase in midyear general voucher transfers, estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to cost $2.1 million per year.
  • This LSA estimate makes SB 334 the biggest voucher expansion since Governor Pence’s 2013 voucher expansion which ended up costing taxpayers $40 million extra dollars, according to the annual financial report on Choice scholarships.
  • The current window for private school voucher applications is March 1 to September 1. SB 334 would establish a new enrollment window from September 2 to January 15. This extension would mean that the marketing and recruitment competition between private schools and public schools would go on for 10.5 months instead of the current 6 months.
  • Private schools have always had to have a marketing program to gain enrollment, but marketing and recruiting is new to public schools since Indiana was transformed into a school choice marketplace in 2011. Now just like private schools, if public schools don’t recruit students, they won’t survive. A superb public school with superb teachers must still be marketed well to parents or it may falter in the competition for enrollment. SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.
  • Marketing and recruiting take money and staff time that public schools don’t have, but now they must find it. To compete, public schools have to take money from other important services to budget for marketing and recruiting. Currently, marketing is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments are in place, schools can pay full attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now SB 334 would extend the competitive marketing pressure all the way through January 15th.
  • SB 334 also removes a provision in current law that says if a voucher student leaves the voucher school for which the student was awarded a Choice scholarship, the student is responsible for the payment of any tuition required for the remainder of the school year. Removing this provision is moving backward on accountability to the taxpayer. If families make a bad choice, the result would be extra costs falling on the taxpayers.
  • Legislators should say no to ever- increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion.
  • We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.
Send Final Messages Today (March 9) or Early Tomorrow (March 10)!

Just let them know you are following their actions on SB 334 and on HB 1005 and that you oppose any expansion of private school vouchers. The length of your message is not as important as the number of messages Senators and House members receive.

Let them know you oppose voucher expansion because it wasn’t focused on drop out recovery, the stated purpose of the sponsors. Let them know you oppose a general expansion of undefined partial vouchers to promote spring semester transfers. Let them know the expansion of vouchers is the wrong bicentennial message to send to our public schools in 2016.

Thanks for standing up for 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #257 – March 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

Political maneuvering by the leadership of the General Assembly to pass voucher expansion has begun.

Reports on the third floor of the Statehouse today are that Senate Bill 334 with its voucher expansion included is being added in its entirety to House Bill 1005.

There will be one final vote on House Bill 1005 in the House and in the Senate.

Let members of the House and Senate know that you oppose HB 1005 and the voucher expansion of SB 334 that it now contains. Tell them you don’t like the maneuvering and that you think voucher expansion is taking Indiana in the wrong direction.

Tell them quickly if possible. While the final votes on HB 1005 are most likely to be tomorrow (Wed., March 9), I’ve been told with one hour notices in effect at the end of the session, it is even possible the votes could come late today (Tuesday, March 8).

Let them know where you stand on voucher expansion in whatever bill they put the language.

What is House Bill 1005?

House Bill 1005 is the bill creating the career pathways program. It became controversial when it allowed the extra compensation for teachers taking on new responsibilities to be planned by a committee of two teachers and one principal instead of through collective bargaining. It passed the House on Feb. 1 by a vote of 78-17 and passed the Senate on Feb. 23 by a vote of 38-11.

The Conference Committee on HB 1005 was held last Thursday, March 3rd. No further public committee hearings are required for HB 1005. By amending SB 334 into HB 1005, no further public Conference Committee meeting on SB 334 language would be necessary. The leadership can just put SB 334 into the HB 1005 Conference Committee report, get four conferees to sign the report, and then take it to a vote for approval in both the House and in the Senate.

If the Democrats who are conferees balk at signing the report, they can be removed and then replaced by a Republican who supports the maneuver.

Let them know that in Indiana’s bicentennial year, the issue of voucher expansion is too important to be the subject of last minute backroom maneuvers.

Contact Legislators in opposition to HB 1005

All of this means that all members of the House and of the Senate must still vote on voucher expansion one more time, but barring further changes voucher expansion will now be in House Bill 1005. Your messages of opposition to voucher expansion continue to make a difference and more messages are now in order for both House and Senate members not only to object to the substance but also to the last minute political maneuvering.

Let them know you oppose voucher expansion because it wasn’t focused on drop out recovery, the stated purpose of the sponsors. Let them know you oppose a general expansion of undefined partial vouchers to promote spring semester transfers. Let them know the expansion of vouchers is the wrong bicentennial message to send to our public schools in 2016.

Of course in this “end of session” flurry, additional changes are possible. Thanks for giving this your attention!

Just let them know you are following their actions on HB 1005 and that you oppose any expansion of private school vouchers.

Thanks for standing up for 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #256 – March 7, 2016

Dear Friends,

Unexpectedly, Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools was not called for a final concurrence vote today in the Senate.

Instead, the Senate withdrew the concurrence to House amendments, filed a dissent, and appointed Senate conferees for a conference committee.

Presumably, the conference committee on SB 334 will meet tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8th.

After a final version is approved by the conference committee, both the House and the Senate must vote on the final bill.

That means that all members of the House and of the Senate must vote on SB 334 one more time. Your messages of opposition to voucher expansion have made a difference and even more messages are now in order for both House and Senate members before the final votes are taken.

Let them know you oppose Senate Bill 334 because it wasn’t focused on drop out recovery, the stated purpose of the sponsors. Let them know you oppose a general expansion of undefined partial vouchers to promote spring semester transfers. Let them know the expansion of vouchers is the wrong bicentennial message to send to our public schools in 2016.

In addition, ask them about the new questions that have arisen about this poorly defined bill:

Two New Questions about Partial Vouchers and about Expelled Students

Two new questions have been raised about SB 334 that need to be fully answered before House and Senate members vote:

1) Why doesn’t SB 334 define what a partial-year voucher means? It simply says that applications for vouchers in the spring semester may be requested from September 2 to January 15.
  • Does that mean students must wait until the start of the spring semester to attend the voucher school?
  • Does that mean the taxpayers will pay exactly half of the full voucher amount for the spring semester?
  • Can students transfer earlier in the middle of the fall semester?
  • Can they get a taxpayer voucher for an earlier transfer prorated by the day?
  • Will voucher schools start advertising in the fall with messages like: “Did your student get assigned to the wrong teacher? Are you unhappy? Transfer to our voucher school.”
  • Will the State Board of Education or the Indiana Department of Education define this undefined partial voucher?
  • Since the bill gives no answers to these questions, shouldn’t a summer study committee define the parameters of a partial voucher?
2) Is SB 334 the first program that gives taxpayer money to help expelled students during the school year for which they are expelled?

Expulsions are for serious problems, including bringing guns or drugs to school or threatening the school. A state law says that expelled students as part of their penalty cannot be enrolled in another public school for the balance of the school year in which they were expelled. The sponsors of SB 334 said the bill was needed to help expelled students go to The Crossing, a private school that helps drop outs and expelled students.
  • Is SB 334 now going to provide public money for these students to transfer to a private school when the law says that they can’t transfer to another public school as part of their penalty? Is that wise policy?
  • Is this undermining the meaning of expulsion?
  • Will students expelled for the most serious offenses including gun violations or serious threats to the school be allowed to simply transfer to a private school with a voucher?
  • Should we not define the expulsion offenses for which taxpayer money should not be used when students are expelled for the most serious reasons?
You have a new opportunity to send a message to your Senator or to your House member that you oppose the expansion of the voucher school recruiting season to go four additional months and that opening the door for mid-year transfers is not wise public policy without clear definitions in the bill.

Your messages are making a difference. I heard a report today that one Senator has received an impressive number of messages opposing SB 334. Keep it up!

For your convenience, I will repeat the previous talking points, so you don’t have to look up previous Statehouse Notes!

Points of Opposition: Please share one or more of the new questions or these previous concerns with any and all legislators. Both the House and the Senate will vote one more time!
  • Sponsors in both the Senate and the House said the bill would help a private school called The Crossing get funding to help drop outs, but the language of the bill says nothing about drop outs.
  • The bill should have been amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a huge increase in midyear general voucher transfers, estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to cost $2.1 million per year.
  • This LSA estimate makes SB 334 the biggest voucher expansion since Governor Pence’s 2013 voucher expansion which ended up costing taxpayers $40 million extra dollars, according to the annual financial report on Choice scholarships.
  • The current window for private school voucher applications is March 1 to September 1. SB 334 would establish a new enrollment window from September 2 to January 15. This extension would mean that the marketing and recruitment competition between private schools and public schools would go on for 10.5 months instead of the current 6 months.
  • Private schools have always had to have a marketing program to gain enrollment, but marketing and recruiting is new to public schools since Indiana was transformed into a school choice marketplace in 2011. Now just like private schools, if public schools don’t recruit students, they won’t survive. A superb public school with superb teachers must still be marketed well to parents or it may falter in the competition for enrollment. SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.
  • Marketing and recruiting take money and staff time that public schools don’t have, but now they must find it. To compete, public schools have to take money from other important services to budget for marketing and recruiting. Currently, marketing is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments are in place, schools can pay full attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now SB 334 would extend the competitive marketing pressure all the way through January 15th.
  • SB 334 also removes a provision in current law that says if a voucher student leaves the voucher school for which the student was awarded a Choice scholarship, the student is responsible for the payment of any tuition required for the remainder of the school year. Removing this provision is moving backward on accountability to the taxpayer. If families make a bad choice, the result would be extra costs falling on the taxpayers.
  • Legislators should say no to ever- increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion.
  • We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.
Just let them know you are following their actions on SB 334 and that you oppose any expansion of private school vouchers. The length of your message is not as important as the number of messages Senators and House members receive.

Thanks for standing up for 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

###

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #255 – March 5, 2016

Dear Friends,

Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools will be given a final up or down vote in the Senate on Monday, March 7th.

This will be the final vote. If it passes, it will go to Governor Pence for his signature.

You have one final opportunity to send a message to your Senator or to other Senators that you oppose the expansion of the voucher school recruiting season to go four additional months, instead of ending September 1 as the voucher program works currently. Opening the door for mid-year transfers is not wise public policy.

On Friday, Senator Yoder concurred with the House amendments on Senate Bill 334. Late Friday afternoon, the Senate leadership scheduled SB 334 for a final concurrence vote on Monday in the session beginning at 1:30pm.

If you are opposed to the continuous expansion of vouchers in Indiana, send a message to Senators by Monday afternoon.

What’s the Problem with Senate Bill 334?

Senator Yoder explained in the Senate that this bill was proposed after The Crossing, a private religious school, came to him to get help for drop outs and expelled students that come to The Crossing in the spring semester. Representative DeVon, sponsor of the bill in the House who said he has been on the board of the The Crossing for several years, gave the same reason for the bill.

The problem is that the bill language does not affect only drop outs and expelled students. It is written in such a way that it will impact schools all over Indiana when any K-12 student wants to leave mid-year to enroll in a voucher school. This means the season of marketing, advertising and recruiting for school choice will not end as it does now when the voucher enrollment period ends September 1. The competition in which all public and private schools now participate in for survival will go on until January.

Points of Opposition: Please share one or more of these concerns with your Senator by Monday
  • Sponsors in both the Senate and the House said the bill would help a private school called The Crossing get funding to help drop outs, but the language of the bill says nothing about drop outs.
  • The bill should have been amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a huge increase in midyear general voucher transfers, estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to cost $2.1 million per year.
  • This LSA estimate makes SB 334 the biggest voucher expansion since Governor Pence’s 2013 voucher expansion which ended up costing taxpayers $40 million extra dollars, according to the annual financial report on Choice scholarships.
  • The current window for private school voucher applications is March 1 to September 1. SB 334 would establish a new enrollment window from September 2 to January 15. This extension would mean that the marketing and recruitment competition between private schools and public schools would go on for 10.5 months instead of the current 6 months.
  • Private schools have always had to have a marketing program to gain enrollment, but marketing and recruiting is new to public schools since Indiana was transformed into a school choice marketplace in 2011. Now just like private schools, if public schools don’t recruit students, they won’t survive. A superb public school with superb teachers must still be marketed well to parents or it may falter in the competition for enrollment. SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.
  • Marketing and recruiting take money and staff time that public schools don’t have, but now they must find it. To compete, public schools have to take money from other important services to budget for marketing and recruiting. Currently, marketing is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments are in place, schools can pay full attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now SB 334 would extend the competitive marketing pressure all the way through January 15th.
  • SB 334 also removes a provision in current law that says if a voucher student leaves the voucher school for which the student was awarded a Choice scholarship, the student is responsible for the payment of any tuition required for the remainder of the school year. Removing this provision is moving backward on accountability to the taxpayer. If families make a bad choice, the result would be extra costs falling on the taxpayers.
  • Legislators should say no to ever- increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion.
  • We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.
Take a moment to send a message to Senators to oppose Senate Bill 334 because it wasn’t focused on drop out recovery, the stated purpose of the sponsors. Tell them they should not expand vouchers generally to promote spring semester transfers. Tell them the expansion of vouchers is the wrong bicentennial message to send to our public schools in 2016.

Just let them know you are following their actions on SB 334 and that you oppose any expansion of private school vouchers. The length of your message is not as important as the number of messages Senators receive. Write on!

Thanks for standing up for 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #254 – March 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

Once again, the push by the current leadership of the Indiana General Assembly to expand private school vouchers marches on. Yesterday, the leadership flexed its muscles and the vote was not close.

Yesterday (March 3rd) on the House floor, Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools passed by a vote of 60-33.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for either a concurrence vote on the House amendments or a conference committee. The Senate sponsor Senator Yoder will decide which path the bill will take next week in the Senate.

If you would like to express your opposition to the steady drumbeat of voucher expansion in the Indiana General Assembly, contact your Senator or other Senators to tell them you object to the general mid-year voucher transfers allowed by Senate Bill 334.

Details of the Third Reading Vote on SB 334

Representative DeVon, House sponsor of the bill, introduced SB 334 Thursday afternoon right after the House resumed business after the inauguration of Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb.

Representatives Errington, Wright and Vernon Smith spoke strongly against voucher expansion. Representatives Tim Brown and DeVon spoke for it. Then came the roll call.

The opposition was bipartisan, with 6 Republicans and 27 Democrats voting NO.

Republicans (6) voting no: Representatives Arnold, Cook, Dermody, Koch, Truitt and Washburne.

Democrats (27) voting no: Representatives Austin, Bartlett, Bauer, C. Brown, DeLaney, Dvorak, Errington, Forestal, GiaQuinta, Hale, Harris, Kersey, Klinker, Lawson, Macer, Moed, Moseley, Niezgodski, Pelath, Pierce, Porter, Pryor, Riecken, Shackleford, V. Smith, Stemler and Wright.

Public education advocates should thank all 33 for their no vote.

Support for the bill was not bipartisan, with 60 Republicans voting YES.

Republicans (60) voting yes: Representatives Bacon, Baird, Behning, Beumer, Borders, Braun, T. Brown, Burton, Carbaugh, Clere, Cox, Culver, DeVon, Eberhart, Ellington, Fine, Friend, Frye, Gutwein, Hamm, Harman, Heaton, Huston, Judy, Karickhoff, Kirchhofer, Lehe, Lehman, Leonard, Lucas, Lyness, Mahan, Mayfield, Miller, Morrison, Morris, Negele, Nisly, Ober, Olthoff, Price, Rhoads, Richardson, Saunders, Schaibley, Slager, Smaltz, M. Smith, Soliday, Speedy, Steuerwald, Sullivan, Thompson, Torr, VanNatter, Wesco, Wolkins, Zent, Ziemke and Speaker Bosma.

Five Representatives were absent and excused: Republican Representatives Cherry, Frizzell and McNamara and Democrat Representatives Goodin and Summers.

Two Representatives did not vote: Republican Representatives Aylesworth and Davisson.

Observations about the vote

The leadership of the House starting with Speaker Bosma has strongly supported voucher expansion since they took control of the House in 2011. It takes great conviction for a Republican to go against leadership and oppose voucher expansion.

Leadership has strong leverage to keep members in line on the voucher issue, a fact that no doubt influenced the following:
  • Representative Slager voted against SB 334 in the Ways and Means Committee but changed to a Yes on the final vote.
  • Representative Davisson voted against SB 334 in Ways and Means but did not vote on the final vote.
  • Representatives Dermody and Truitt are retiring from the House and could oppose the bill without concern about consequences next year.
  • SB 334 provides for the biggest expansion of vouchers since the enormous $40 million 2013 voucher expansion which was opposed at the time by Representatives Bacon, Baird, Leonard, Mahan, Saunders, Soliday and Wolkins. All seven decided to get back in line with leadership on SB 334.
Contact Senators This Weekend

Your messages opposing the general voucher expansion to spring semester have made SB 334 one of the most controversial bills of the session. It didn’t start out that way when it began in the Senate, but your concerns about the continuous drumbeat of voucher expansion made it contentious in the House. It was the final bill to pass out of committee on Monday, and it was not passed on third reading until the final day.

Thank you to all public school advocates who have raised your voice on this issue. Keep it up!

Now it is time to reconnect with your Senator or other Senators to let them know you strongly oppose SB 334. Let them know that giving more and more attention to making private school vouchers easier to get and less and less attention to the vast and crucial needs of public education is taking Indiana in the wrong direction.

When parents have made the choice to send 94% of the students of Indiana to public schools, public education in our bicentennial year deserves the full support of legislators.

Take a moment to send a message to Senators to oppose Senate Bill 334 unless it is amended to focus the bill on drop out recovery, in line with the purpose stated by the bill sponsors. Tell them they should not expand vouchers generally to promote spring semester transfers.

Thanks for your strong 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #253 – March 2, 2016

Dear Friends,

Today (March 2) on the floor of the House, Senate Bill 334 to expand vouchers by allowing spring semester transfers to voucher schools received no amendments related to voucher expansion. The final third reading vote to expand vouchers in the spring semester will be tomorrow, March 3rd.

The House is scheduled to begin at 9am tomorrow.

If you would like to express your opposition to the broad expansion of vouchers in Senate Bill 334, please ask your House member or other House members to vote NO before tomorrow’s vote.

The Debate Today on Amendments to SB 334

When SB 334 came up today for second reading amendments, Representative Behning offered an amendment to begin a fund to help teachers who need to get additional courses and degrees to comply with new rules for dual credit courses. This concept was in a bill which did not make it through the Senate. The amendment passed 87-3.

Minority Leader Pelath then immediately moved that the bill be recommitted to Ways and Means since the rules of the House have been interpreted to say that the creation of any new fund, even though it has no money in it, must be approved by Ways and Means. He said this rule was used to kill two bills sponsored by Democrats this session, and he made a strong case that the same rules should be applied here to send this bill to Ways and Means. His motion was strongly supported by Representatives Austin, Vernon Smith, DeLaney, Bauer, Forrestal and Porter, all speaking to the theme: Do the rules mean anything? His motion was opposed by Representatives Tim Brown, Torr, Lehman, and Frizzell. After a lengthy debate which might have killed the bill on procedural grounds, the roll call to recommit failed on a party line vote, 28-65.

Next Representative Porter offered an amendment to give up textbook tax credits of up to $100 to the parents of public school students. He pointed out that home school parents and private school parents already get a tax break for textbooks, but not public school parents. His amendment was defeated 27-65 on a party line vote.

Then Representative Vernon Smith offered an amendment to delete the voucher expansion elements of SB 334 and the proposed second special education count, but leaving in the section on background checks and confidentiality agreements. Representative DeVon opposed the amendment, saying the bill would help students who have “dropped out or been expelled” get help from The Crossing school in a second ADM count. He said The Crossing now has 28 schools and helps kids who truly need help. He said he has “three great public schools in his district” and all they need from him is to get out of their way, but the kids at The Crossing need help.

Representative Smith in response said the voucher program is hurting his community. He is trying to stop the bleeding from choice scholarships because it is hurting not helping his community. He said The Crossing is a “great program”, but public school corporations are already funding The Crossing.

Then he withdrew his amendment.

Editorially, I would note that the purpose of SB 334 was once again cited by the bill’s sponsor Representative DeVon as helping drop outs, but no language limits the bill to drop outs or expelled students. It will have a broad impact across the state as it is now written to allow mid-year transfers that have nothing to do with drop out recovery. It will expand the advertising, marketing and recruitment season to 10.5 months out of the school year instead of the current six months.

The points of opposition still hold. Please review them and send a message before tomorrow’s final vote:
  • Sponsors in both the Senate and the House said the bill would help a private school called The Crossing get funding to help drop outs, but the language of the bill says nothing about drop outs.
  • The bill should be amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a huge increase in midyear general voucher transfers, estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to cost $2.1 million per year.
  • This LSA estimate makes SB 334 the biggest voucher expansion since Governor Pence’s 2013 voucher expansion which ended up costing taxpayers $40 million extra dollars, according to the annual financial report on Choice scholarships.
  • The current window for private school voucher applications is March 1 to September 1. SB 334 would establish a new enrollment window from September 2 to January 15. This extension would mean that the marketing and recruitment competition between private schools and public schools would go on for 10.5 months instead of the current 6 months.
  • Private schools have always had to have a marketing program to gain enrollment, but marketing and recruiting is new to public schools since Indiana was transformed into a school choice marketplace in 2011. Now just like private schools, if public schools don’t recruit students, they won’t survive. A superb public school with superb teachers must still be marketed well to parents or it may falter in the competition for enrollment. SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.
  • Marketing and recruiting take money and staff time that public schools don’t have, but now they must find it. To compete, public schools have to take money from other important services to budget for marketing and recruiting. Currently, marketing is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments are in place, schools can pay full attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now SB 334 would extend the competitive marketing pressure all the way through January 15th.
  • SB 334 also removes a provision in current law that says if a voucher student leaves the voucher school for which the student was awarded a Choice scholarship, the student is responsible for the payment of any tuition required for the remainder of the school year. Removing this provision is moving backward on accountability to the taxpayer. If families make a bad choice, the result would be extra costs falling on the taxpayers.
  • Legislators should say no to ever- increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion.
  • We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.
Take a moment to send a message to House members by the vote tomorrow and to Senators next week to oppose Senate Bill 334 unless it is amended to focus the bill on drop out recovery, the stated purpose of the sponsors. Tell them they should not expand vouchers generally to promote spring semester transfers.

Senate Bill 334 has been changed by the House, so if the bill is approved in the House this week, it will have to return to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the House version or else a conference committee to resolve the differences. It is not too early to send messages to your Senator about your opposition to the expansion of private school vouchers In SB 334. It has been announced that the session will be adjourned on March 10th, just eight days from today.

Let members of the House and the Senate know that you think the drumbeat for more and easier private school vouchers and less attention and support for public education has to stop.

The priority and publicity given to privatizing public education is taking us in the wrong direction and putting at risk in our bicentennial year our long heritage of public education in Indiana, the achievement of countless dedicated public servants.

Thank you for your willingness to stand up for 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 continues to represent ICPE during the 2016 short 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.

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