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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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #318 – March 13, 2018

Dear Friends,

The final day of the short session is tomorrow, and the final version of House Bill 1315 is still up in the air.

However it comes out, it will still have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

If you have not contacted your legislators about your opposition yet, give it one more shot tonight or Wednesday. It looks like it will be one of the last bills to be voted on Wednesday evening, the last night of the session.

Tell your legislators or any legislators:
  • Non-residents should not be on public school boards!
Outsiders should not be allowed to be voting members of the Muncie public school board. This precedent would dismantle a core principle of public education.
  • Every public school district should have a school board!
Give the Gary public school district the dignity of having a school board like every other school district for the past 200 years, even while an emergency manager holds all the powers of the school board to correct mismanagement.
Tell them they must not pass a bill that takes down another pillar of public education. That pillar says:

Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

Yet another pillar of public education in Indiana is in jeopardy.

The Meeting of the Conference Committee on HB 1315

Concerns about appointing non-resident school board members and losing the voice of citizens were clear themes in statements from legislators and those testifying at yesterday’s (March 12th) Conference Committee meeting.

Senator Lanane said: “We are taking away the democracy of the people of Muncie in this bill.”

Senator Tallian said: “We are dismantling public schools” by adding a “university-run alternative” to the long list of alternative schools the General Assembly has created, to the point where we no longer “provide a uniform system of common schools” as Article 8 of our Constitution says we must do.

Representative Vernon Smith called having non-residents on the school board a “terrible decision” and said we should “keep the school board in Gary.”

Senator Melton said Ball State University could help Muncie schools “without legislation.”

Representative Tim Brown, chair of the Conference Committee, allowed all members of the public to speak who wished to do so. Eight took advantage of the opportunity.

My testimony that I gave can be found HERE.

This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It sets precedents for all Indiana public school districts. We need your participation!

If you have not done so already, contact your own House member and Senator or other legislators about House Bill 1315. The results of your work will be known tomorrow.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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.

###

Friday, March 9, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #317 – March 8, 2018

Dear Friends,

We need every public school advocate to send a brief email or phone message to legislators listed below before Monday, March 12th at 11am.

That is the date and time of the Conference Committee on House Bill 1315, which violates in two ways a basic pillar of public education that says:

Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

HB 1315 would knock down this pillar principle in two communities:
  • For the first time in Indiana history, non-resident outsiders would be allowed to be voting members of a community’s public school board, with no sunset provisions to return control to local residents. (Muncie)
  • For the first time in Indiana history, a public school district would not have a school board. (Gary)
This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It sets precedents for all Indiana public school districts. We need your participation!

Contact Members of the Conference Committee before Monday Morning!

It is not too late to fix either of these problems in the bill. The House and Senate passed different versions, so a conference committee will begin meeting on Monday, March 12 at 11am in Room 404 of the Statehouse.

It is a public meeting and open to all who are concerned about HB 1315. The amount of testimony taken is determined by the chair.

Corrections to the two historic flaws cited above could be made in the conference committee, which must conclude its work by Wednesday, March 14th, the last day of the session.

Conference Committee Members to Contact

Contact your Senator and your Representative first if you have not done so, because both the House and the Senate must vote on the final bill one more time.

In addition, please send messages to the Conference Committee members:

(Members are listed and pictured on the General Assembly website under Conference Committee on HB 1315.)

House Conferees: Representative Tim Brown (Chair) and Representative Vernon Smith

House Advisors: Representative Milo Smith, Representative Errington, Representative Charlie Brown and Representative Wright

Senate Conferees: Senator Mishler and Senator Tallian

Senate Advisors: Senator Bassler, Senator Lanane, Senator Eckerty, Senator Melton and Senator Holdman.

Ask them to fix two problems in the final version:
  • · Non-residents should not be on public school boards!
Outsiders should not be allowed to be voting members of the Muncie public school board. Their votes to raise property taxes on local residents would bring litigation.
  • · Every public school district should have a school board!
Give the Gary public school district the dignity of having a school board like every other school district for the past 200 years, even while an emergency manager holds all the powers of the school board to correct mismanagement.
In nearly every session since 2009, the Indiana General Assembly has eroded step by step the norms and pillars of public education in Indiana. This erosion must stop.

This bill would for the first time break the link between public school board membership and residency in the district. Indiana should not break that link!

Currently, the bill says that two of the five school board members appointed by the Ball State University board of trustees “must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

Ask Legislators to Change Two to All Five!

Ball State leaders should ask for this change. If they don’t, they have just not thought through the legal and public relations problems that would ensue when out-of-town or out-of-state school board members vote each year to set the property tax levies of local residents.

Indiana has never allowed this possibility before, and it should not allow it now.

House Bill 1315, a complex 55 page bill, has become the most controversial education bill in the short session. Legislators need to hear from you on the two points listed above!

These two points take the PUBLIC out of public education in two communities. They set two precedents for the deconstruction of public education.

Ask the members of the Conference Committee listed above to fix these two points in the bill!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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.

###

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #316 – March 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

This one needs your immediate attention:

Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.

This has been a core principle for public education in Indiana that has not been challenged for 200 years until House Bill 1315 came along this session.

HB 1315 sets a damaging precedent by knocking down this pillar principle in two communities:
  • For the first time in Indiana history, non-resident outsiders would be allowed to be voting members of a community’s public school board, with no sunset provisions to return control to local residents. (Muncie)
  • For the first time in Indiana history, a public school district would not have a school board. (Gary)

It’s Not Too Late. Send Your Legislators a Message Today!

It is not too late to fix either of these problems in the bill. The Senate version, passed Tuesday by a vote of 35-14, is different from the House version, which passed 64-27, so a conference committee is expected, perhaps starting tomorrow (March 8). Corrections could be made in the conference committee. The session must adjourn by March 14th.

Time is short. Take a few minutes right away to contact your Senator and your Representative, along with other legislators if you can. Tell them:
  • Outsiders should not be allowed to be on the Muncie public school board. Their votes to raise property taxes on residents would bring litigation.
  • Give the Gary public school district the dignity of having a school board like every other school district for the past 200 years, even while an emergency manager is given the powers of the school board to correct mismanagement.
In nearly every session since 2009, the Indiana General Assembly has eroded step by step the norms of public education in Indiana. This erosion must stop.

House Bill 1315, a complex 55 page bill, has become the most controversial education bill in the short session. Legislators need to hear from you on these points!

Improvements on Second Reading in the Senate

The Senate improved the bill significantly during second reading amendments. Several Senators should be credited and thanked for participating in the amendment process on Monday (March 5) including Senator Mishler (Senate sponsor), Senator Head, Senator Lanane, Senator Ruckelshaus, Senator Breaux and Senator Tallian.

Senator Mishler, who was praised by the Senators from Muncie and Gary for his openness and transparency in debating this controversial bill, supported several amendments which improved the bill. He was also responsible in the Senate bill for improving the fiscal indicator dashboard to keep the watch list confidential until all data is verified for accuracy.

A big thank you should go to Senator Head for offering an amendment to restore six citizenship laws to the list of laws that Muncie public schools must follow in their otherwise flexible curriculum under Ball State’s control. The amendment, passed on a voice vote, restored the following curriculum requirements to Muncie:
20-30-5-0.5 - display of the flag; pledge of allegiance
20-30-5-1 - constitutions of Indiana and the United States
20-30-5-2 – constitution; interdisciplinary course
20-30-5-3 – writings, documents and records of American history
20-30-5-4 – system of government; American history
20-30-5-6 – good citizenship instruction
Chairman Mishler also supported an amendment by Senator Lanane, who represents Muncie, which says: “In making the appointments under this subdivision, the Ball State University board of trustees and the President of Ball State University shall strive to ensure that the members appointed to the governing body reflect the geographical and socioeconomic composition of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

This amendment is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t cancel the current language on page 40, line 20 allowing non-residents to be appointed to three seats: “Five (5) members will be appointed by the Ball State University board of trustees from individuals nominated by the President of Ball State University. At least two (2) of the individuals appointed under this clause must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie Community school corporation district.”

Ask Legislators to Change Two to All Five!

This bill would for the first time break the link between public school board membership and residency in the district.

This is step Indiana must not take.

There are sound reasons why public school board members up to now have been required to be residents:
  • School board members vote on property tax issues. They would know from personal experience what the impact is on their taxes when they vote on property tax levies. Outsiders would be voting to tax people potentially in a different state from where they live and pay taxes.
  • School board members need to know the community. Appointing outsiders could prompt a split in the board on community issues.
  • Residents who believe that it is wrong for school board members who live in New York, California or Chicago to be voting to raise their local property taxes for any purpose might use this non-resident status as the basis for a lawsuit to challenge the action of the board, costing extra legal fees.
We just shouldn’t go there.

When asked during debates in the House about this point, the sponsor of the bill Representative Tim Brown said Ball State should be able to appoint David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates to the school board.

Write Legislators Today or Tomorrow!

Public school advocates have the opportunity during the conference committee process to try to repair two historic flaws that should be corrected:
1) The Muncie public schools are allowed to have non-resident outsiders in three of the seven school board seats.

2) The Gary public schools will no longer have a school board. It will be replaced by an advisory board.
These two points take the PUBLIC out of public education in two communities. They set two precedents for the deconstruction of public education.

These would be firsts. They would unravel yet another pillar of public education.

They are not right.

These two points could be fixed in the conference committee before final passage. Send messages to legislators today!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Backpack Full of Cash

Click the link below to join ISTA and Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education for a free, ticketed screening of the acclaimed documentary, Backpack Full of Cash. Get your tickets now...seating is limited.

Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, Backpack Full of Cash takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013–14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education—starved of resources—hangs in the balance.

Watch the preview at vimeo.com/189823117.

Click HERE to get your free tickets to Backpack Full of Cash, before they're gone.

Sat, April 14, 2018
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

IVY Tech
3800 N Anthony Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46805


🎬🎬🎬

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #315 – March 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

Unbelievably, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amended version of House Bill 1315 this morning which still allows Ball State to ignore the mandated patriotic curriculum laws (IC 20-30-5) as Ball State runs the Muncie public schools.

It is hard to understand why Ball State needs the flexibility to ignore the citizenship mandates of 20-30-5 for each school to:
· display the flag
· provide a daily opportunity to say the pledge of allegiance
· provide instruction on the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution
· require a 2 semester course in American History
· provide citizenship instruction at the time of every general election
· integrate good citizenship instruction into the curriculum
These mandates to study citizenship lie at the heart of public education. The General Assembly even requires that private voucher schools follow the mandates of 20-30-5 under the voucher law!

Why wouldn’t Ball State be required to include citizenship mandates when they take over the Muncie public schools?

This oversight can be corrected with a second reading amendment if Senators hear from enough public school advocates who believe that citizenship education is vital for all public schools.

Please contact your Senator and Senator Long, President Pro Tem, to ask them to guarantee Ball State will not ignore citizenship instruction mandated in IC 20-30-5.

HB 1315 says “Muncie Community school corporation is subject only to” a list of 28 laws from the Indiana Code 20 on education. Senators should make 20-30-5 the 29th law to follow!

Other Concerns about HB 1315

Here is an update on the other three concerns shared in my previous Statehouse Notes #314:

1) Don’t let non-residents run public school districts. Ask Senators to return the public to the Muncie public schools by requiring that not just two but all seven members “reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”

Some changes in the right direction were made today, but the changes fall short of the goal to have all Muncie school board members to be residents of the Muncie school district.

The bill now says that the two board member seats currently guaranteed to residents will become elected seats in 2022.

Also two of the five board members appointed by the Ball State trustees must be residents of the district.

This change raises the total number who must reside in the district from two to four.

Three may still be non-residents.

The rationale for making Muncie the first public school district in Indiana to have non-residents on its public school board is still a mystery. Voting on property tax issues doesn’t make sense for non-residents board members.

Please urge Senators to change this bill to put residents on the school board for all seven seats!

2) Don’t eliminate the school board but rather return the voice of the community to the school board after corrective actions have been completed by an emergency manager. Ask Senators to maintain the institution of the school board for all public school districts so that when financial distress and debt problems have been resolved by an emergency manager, local control can be returned to the local community through a school board, an institution that has stood the test of time.

This concern is still an issue also. The amended bill changed the name of the new entity from “advisory committee” to “advisory board”. Eliminating the Gary School Board sets a precedent we don’t need. The school board’s power has already been ended while the emergency manager makes corrections.

Please urge Senators to maintain the institution of the school board even while deficit and debt problems are resolved by an emergency manager.

3) Don’t permit preliminary discussions of watch lists in public meetings when they haven’t been vetted and certified. Ask Senators to amend the fiscal indicators section of HB 1315 to permit the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) to consider “watch lists” in confidential executive sessions so that no district will prematurely get a black eye in the public’s mind until accuracy has been certified.

The committee repaired this part of the bill to keep fiscal problems confidential until accuracy is confirmed. Senators should be thanked for their work on this problem.

Action Today

The positive changes noted above were contained in an amendment authored by Chairman Mishler which passed on a party line vote.

Democrats on the committee offered five amendments to make additional changes, one of which would have reduced the bill to the section on fiscal indicators for all schools and let Muncie and Gary proceed according to the law written last year. All five amendments failed on a party line vote, 4-9.

The amended bill passed 9-4 on a party line vote.

Take Action about HB 1315 As Soon As Possible

We need your voice to contact Senators about HB 1315 regarding amendments!

I urge you to contact your Senator or any Senator
· to restore citizenship education and resident control in Muncie public schools.

· to preserve the institution of the school board in Gary.

· to prevent HB 1315 from becoming a precedent in the deconstruction of the local control of public education.
Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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.

###

Monday, February 26, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #314 – February 26, 2018

Dear Friends,

I am still shocked that Ball State University endorsed a bill allowing them to take over Muncie public schools while allowing them to ignore state laws requiring all students to study citizenship, the U.S. Constitution and American history.

The bill, HB 1315, allows Ball State to take over Muncie public schools without following the state laws that every other public school district must follow.

Is anybody looking out for the future of our democracy?

My reaction is personal. Ball State is my first alma mater. It is the place in 1967 where I confirmed my personal mission to become a social studies teacher to teach history and citizenship in support of our democracy, a mission that is obviously still important.

Has our democracy changed in a half century to the point where no one reads the fine print in a bill giving “flexibility” to ignore basic state laws that support the teaching of citizenship in our schools?

This flexibility goes too far. The bill actually removes the legal obligations in 20-30-5 for schools to say the pledge of allegiance, study the U.S. Constitution, study the Indiana Constitution and provide non-partisan voter instruction at the time of each general election to students in grades 6-12. No district should be waived from teaching students about citizenship in our democracy!

House Bill 1315 passed the House in this condition with the support of Ball State. It must be amended in the Senate.

HB 1315 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee which normally meets on Thursday. It received a hearing on February 15th and awaits committee action, most likely at a committee meeting on March 1st, although no schedule has been posted. This is the last week in this session of the General Assembly for committee action.

We need your voice to contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week to amend HB 1315!

Four egregious problems were listed in the previous “Notes #313” about HB 1315:
  • Don’t let non-residents run public school districts. Ask Senators to return the public to the Muncie public schools by requiring that not just two but all seven members “reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”
  • Don’t let any public school district ignore the mandated curriculum for good citizenship. Ask Senators to have the Muncie Community Schools follow the same Indiana school laws that the General Assembly has told all other school districts to follow.
  • Don’t eliminate the school board but rather return the voice of the community to the school board after corrective actions have been completed by an emergency manager. Ask Senators to maintain the institution of the school board for all public school districts so that when financial distress and debt problems have been resolved by an emergency manager, local control can be returned to the local community through a school board, an institution that has stood the test of time.
Citizens from Gary and Lake County held a rally in the Statehouse last Thursday, Feb. 22nd in support of this point and asking that they keep their voice in their public schools through a school board.
  • Don’t permit preliminary discussions of watch lists in public meetings when they haven’t been vetted and certified. Ask Senators to amend the fiscal indicators section of HB 1315 to permit the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) to consider “watch lists” in confidential executive sessions so that no district will prematurely get a black eye in the public’s mind until accuracy has been certified.
Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed below as soon as possible to amend HB 1315:

Republicans: Senators Mishler (chair), Brown, Bassler, Boots, Bray, Charbonneau, Crider, Eckerty and Holdman

Democrats: Senators Tallian, Breaux, Niezgodski and Taylor

It would also help if you send a message to amend this bill to Senator Long, Senate President Pro Tem, and to your own Senator.

House Bill 1315 - School Corportation Financial Management

This deep concern about citizenship education was one of four points in my previous notes (See Vic’s Statehouse Notes #313 –Feb.21, 2018) calling for amendments to HB 1315. My personal connection to Ball State has prompted many questions:
1) Does Ball State really not care whether students study the US Constitution or did Ball State just sign on to HB 1315 without reading the fine print?

2) Are school laws created by the Indiana General Assembly now being spurned by the Indiana General Assembly itself? Why wouldn’t the General Assembly want students in Muncie public schools to follow the same laws that every other district follows?

3) Is every school district that falls into financial problems going to be turned into a charter-like district with little public control such as this proposal for Muncie?
Take Action This Week, the Last Week for Committee Action

This proposed step for Muncie is a huge historical change which has not been given adequate rationale by House leaders or by Ball State.

I urge you to contact the Senators listed above to correct this problem or the other problems with amendments to prevent HB 1315 from becoming a precedent in the deconstruction of the local control of public education.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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.

###

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #313 – February 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

The “Celebration of Public Education” Monday in the Statehouse was a tremendous event! Thanks to all who came and thanks to all who were there in spirit!

As our outstanding rally speakers said, public education needs our renewed support and protection.

This is true this week in House Bill 1315, which would set troubling precedents to deconstruct the local control of public education if it is not amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Here are the four concerns about HB 1315 that I testified on in the Senate Appropriations Committee last Thursday, Feb. 15:
Concern #1: For the first time, a public school district could be governed by school board members who do not live in the school district.

Concern #2: For the first time, a public school district could ignore state law mandates to display the flag and to study the US Constitution and citizenship. Even private voucher schools are not allowed to ignore the laws on citizenship mandates!

Concern #3: For the first time, a public school district in financial distress could lose its public school board in favor of an “advisory committee”.

Concern #4: For the first time, any public school district could be put on a watch list for financial mismanagement which could potentially become public before detailed reviews have guaranteed the accuracy of the financial assessment. The confidentiality of preliminary data must be guaranteed.
Chairman Mishler listened closely to lengthy testimony and said the testimony would guide an amendment he would bring to the bill at a later meeting. HB 1315 has not been included on the agenda for the next meeting on February 22nd so you have time to make your concerns known this week.

The bill needs to be amended. We need your participation.

Please review the details about each concern below and then contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed here as soon as possible:

Republicans: Senators Mishler (chair), Brown, Bassler, Boots, Bray, Charbonneau, Crider, Eckerty and Holdman

Democrats: Senators Tallian, Breaux, Niezgodski and Taylor

It would also help if you send a strong message to amend this bill to Senator Long, Senate President Pro Tem, and to your own Senator.

House Bill 1315 – School Corporation Financial Management

House Bill 1315, sponsored by Representative Tim Brown, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposes to restrict the voice of the public in the public schools in Muncie and Gary because district leaders over several years overspent their budget and fell into debt.

It also proposes to set up an assessment of the financial health of all public school districts, setting up a dashboard of financial indicators for all school corporations.

Concern #1: For the first time, a public school district could be governed by school board members who do not live in the school district.

HB 1315 as it passed the House on a party line vote says the Muncie city council and the Muncie mayor can each nominate a school board member “who must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”

The other five members will be nominated by the president of Ball State and are not required to be residents of the Muncie school corporation. Under this plan, school board members would be setting property tax levies when they don’t even live in the community. This would surely be the basis for a lawsuit regarding representation and cost the district significant money for legal defense which has not been budgeted.

This is unprecedented among current school boards and would be a major step in the deconstruction of local public schools in Indiana which began in 2011.

Ask Senators to return the public to the Muncie public schools by requiring that all seven members “reside within the boundaries of the Muncie school corporation district.”

Concern #2: For the first time, a public school district could ignore state law mandates to display the flag and to study the US Constitution and citizenship. Even private voucher schools are not allowed to ignore the laws on citizenship mandates!

HB 1315 turns Muncie’s fiscal crisis into a grand academic experiment “to provide all administrative and academic flexibility to implement innovative strategies”, in the words of the bill. It makes Muncie schools subject to only 17 laws which they must follow instead of the entire body of school law which every other school district must observe.

This would make the entire Muncie Community School district akin to an experimental charter school.

This flexibility goes too far. The bill actually removes the legal obligations in 20-30-5 for schools to display the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, study the U.S. Constitution, and provide non-partisan citizenship instruction at the time of each general election. No district should be waived from teaching students about citizenship in our democracy!

Ask Senators to have the Muncie Community Schools follow the same Indiana school laws that the General Assembly has told all other school districts to follow.

Concern #3: For the first time, a public school district in debt and financial distress could lose its public school board in favor of an “advisory committee”.

The Gary Public Schools are already under control of an emergency manager who has full control of all district decisions under legislation passed last year in 2017. The powers of the school board have been suspended until the emergency manager recommends to the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) that the financial crisis has been repaired and that a return to local control is appropriate. This process could require several years.

Given that it already has no power, it is surprising that HB 1315 ends the institution of the school board in favor of a new entity called an “advisory committee” which “may not hold a meeting more than once every three (3) months.”

The institution of the school board has served Indiana well for over one hundred years. When financial mismanagement requires that an emergency manager take over to make budgetary corrections, the citizens of Indiana can understand and would assume that after corrective actions have been taken and financial stability has been restored, power to run the public schools would be returned to the local school board under new leadership.
  • To say residents should permanently lose their voice on a school board because of past financial mistakes is to say those residents have lost their right to democracy.
  • Self-rule through the participation of residents in a school board must not be curtailed forever.
Opponents of public education have long said that school boards should be dissolved and all schools should become charter schools.

Is this bill the camel’s nose under the tent for the proposition that we don’t need school boards which represent the community? Is this the first step to losing control of our public schools by community school boards?

Ask Senators to maintain the institution of the school board for all public school districts so that when financial distress and debt problems have been resolved by an emergency manager, local control can be returned to the local community through a school board, an institution that has stood the test of time.

Concern #4: For the first time, any public school district could be put on a watch list for financial mismanagement which could potentially be made public before detailed reviews have guaranteed the accuracy of the financial assessment. The confidentiality of preliminary data must be guaranteed.

Our generational question in Indiana is “Can the public have confidence in our public schools?” Any appearance on a “watch list” for financial instability can deeply shake public confidence in any school district, so any such designation must be treated with extreme caution and vetted for absolute accuracy.

Some have called this plan a “shame list” and point out the damage that could be done to public confidence if premature and inaccurate data is made public.

Ask Senators to amend the fiscal indicators section of HB 1315 to permit the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) to consider “watch lists” in confidential executive sessions so that no district will prematurely get a black eye in the public’s mind until accuracy has been certified.

Take Action This Week

Send the Senators listed above one or all of these messages to protect our public schools:
  • Don’t let non-residents run public school districts.
  • Don’t let any public school district ignore the mandated curriculum for good citizenship.
  • Don’t eliminate the school board but rather return the voice of the community to the school board after corrective actions have been completed by an emergency manager.
  • Don’t permit preliminary discussions of watch lists in public meetings when they haven’t been vetted and certified.
If you are concerned with any of these four points, it is important that you communicate your concerns to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed above as soon as possible. Go to the Indiana General Assembly website for easy connections to the email of Senators on the committee.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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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Friday, February 16, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #312 – February 16, 2018

Dear Friends,

Plans are ready! Come to the “Celebration of Public Education” this Monday!

Here is your chance to stand up for public education! Come to the Statehouse on Presidents’ Day!

On February 19, 2018, you along with your friends, family and colleagues are invited to a “Celebration of Public Education”.

Visit displays of public education programs throughout the day.

Lunch is available courtesy of ISTA at 12:30 (reservations required at http://bit.ly/IndyRally2018).

Speakers begin at 2:00 pm in the South Atrium.

These are difficult times for public education, an institution that has undergirded our democracy for 180 years:
  • Those who would privatize public education hold power at both the federal and state levels. We must protect our public schools!
  • Further efforts to expand vouchers can be expected next year in Indiana in the budget session.
  • Efforts are expected after the 2018 elections to give public money directly to parents without accountability or oversight, a concept which goes by the deceptive phrase “Education Savings Accounts.”
With your support, these attacks can be turned back.

Public education has been under attack for a long time. For an even longer time, public education has been a tremendous cornerstone for progress in Indiana.

It’s time to celebrate and support public education!

Public officials in the Statehouse need to put a higher priority on PUBLIC education. Only constituents and voters can get them to do that. That’s where we need your presence in the Statehouse. I hope to see you there!

Event Partners

The Indiana PTA has added their name to the event partners since my previous listing!

Here is the list of event partners to date:

AFT Indiana
American Association of University Women
Concerned Clergy
Indiana Coalition for Public Education
Indiana Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
Indiana Student Education Association
Indiana State Teachers Association
ISTA-Retired
Indiana Urban Schools Association
IPS Community Coalition
Indiana Small & Rural Schools Association
Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE)

Rev. Dr. Charles Luke, a strong advocate for public education representing Pastors for Texas Children and a former school superintendent, will be a special guest speaker at the rally.

I hope to see you as we celebrate public education!

A rally flyer you can share with friends and colleagues is attached.

Bring friends! Bring posters!

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #309 – January 17, 2018

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the messages you sent to legislators opposing “Education Savings Accounts.”!

Your messages of opposition have apparently stalled this radical proposal before it got off the ground in the short session.

The deadlines for filing bills in the House and Senate have come and gone, and Senator Raatz never filed his “Education Savings Accounts” bill for special education students that he filed in 2016 and 2017.

Representative Lucas never filed his “Education Savings Accounts” bill for all students as he did in the budget session in 2017.

Representative Tim Brown, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed an ESA bill for all students in 2016, but not in 2018.

It’s good news for now, but remember the concept of “Education Savings Accounts” because they could show up as an amendment to another bill or as a new bill next year in the budget session to try to privatize our public schools.

A Radical Proposal

“Education Savings Accounts” is truly a radical proposal. With the support of wealthy backers who donate heavily to legislators, it has been passed in six states: Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi and North Carolina. It would:
  • give approximately $6000 per student directly to parents on a debit card, or up to $15000 for special education students, allowing parents to spend the education money on their child unsupervised and unaudited.
  • subtract that money away from the funds that normally go to the local school district, a “foot in the door” to the real intent espoused by Milton Friedman of undermining public education itself. ESAs subvert the very concept of schooling.
  • require parents to provide a bare minimum education in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science” (no art, no music, no health, no physical education, no vocational courses) with no standards and no obligation for annual testing or public accountability.
  • fund home schools for the first time and remove all income limits in order to give public money to high income parents of special education and Section 504 students, leading to an estimated cost of up to $206 million according to a Legislative Services Agency fiscal note for the 2017 version of the bill.
  • not provide any fraud detection department nor would it define penalties for parents who commit fraud nor would it exclude parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse or welfare fraud or addiction.
This plan to bring “Education Savings Accounts” to Indiana must not stand.

During the past fall, this plan appeared to be moving. The concept got “baked in” to the constituent surveys that Republican legislators send out before the session, surveys that are printed far in advance of the session. Then no bill was filed.

Thank you for your vigilance. Stay alert to amendments to bills this session and to bills next year that would undermine our public schools with “Education Savings Accounts.” For now, no bill on this topic has been filed as was done in the previous two sessions.

Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!


Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support 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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