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.

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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.

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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

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3800 N Anthony Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46805


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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.

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