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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