Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #345 – March 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Are you still riled up about the end-of-session legislative sneak attack to divert property tax referendum money from traditional public schools to charter schools?

Please contact legislators in the next 24 hours about House Bill 1065 and House Bill 1066. Nothing was resolved this morning in Conference Committee meetings on these two bills.

Legislators will make decisions on these two bills tonight and tomorrow, before finalizing all bills and adjourning Wednesday evening. Your help is immensely important! If you sent messages over the weekend, send them again with vigor!

ISSUE 1: DIVERTING PROPERTY TAX REFERENDUM MONEY TO CHARTER SCHOOLS – HB 1065

This sneak attack on funding comes when public schools are focused not on legislative cliff hangers but on keeping students and staff safe in the coronavirus crisis.

This proposal should be dismissed until next year when it can get public testimony. Legislative leaders need to hear an earful from public school advocates in the next 24 hours to counter the abundance of paid charter school and private school lobbyists working the Statehouse.

In this morning’s Conference Committee on HB 1065, after Representative Thompson summarized the list of provisions that are likely to end up in his Conference Committee report, six Democrats spoke up strongly against the provision to divert property tax money to charter schools. One Republican defended the proposal. The meeting lasted 25 minutes.

Representative DeLaney (D – Indianapolis) pointed out that making this a “may” provision means that every time a public school board wants to propose a referendum to boost operating funds, they must immediately start negotiating with charter schools regarding the amount of the charter portion or else the charter schools will work to defeat the referendum.

Representative Pryor (D- Indianapolis) explained that including charter schools will raise the amount of property tax that will be requested from taxpayers. If for example the local school board needs $10 million from the property taxpayers, they will perhaps have to ask for $11 million to satisfy the charter school requests.

Talking Points

Your help is needed! Tell the leadership and members of the Conference Committee on HB 1065 listed below that you strongly oppose Sections 31-39 of the bill based on these points:
  • This major change to the content of HB 1065 was passed without any opportunity for public testimony. This subverts the democratic process. It should be deferred to the budget session next year.
  • The shocking and unbelievable response to the horrible $68 million virtual school fraud scandal so far has been this: leave weak audits for charter schools in place and then divert property tax dollars from traditional public schools to unmonitored charter school budgets in a new way. There’s something deeply wrong here.
  • This issue will guide the votes of angry educators next November.
  • Charter schools often enroll students from outside the district. Allowing charter schools to receive referendum dollars from district taxpayers who don’t want to support out-of-district students may make referendum elections more difficult to pass.
  • In addition to tuition support from the funding formula, charter schools already get $750 per ADM that traditional schools don’t get to cover operating expenses.
  • Not one single public school asked for this language. Suggestions that this is being done to give public schools more “freedom” are misleading.
  • There is zero evidence that allowing charter schools access to referendum funds would make the referendum more likely to pass.
  • HB 1065 in Sections 37-39 also proposes TIF districts, originally devised to help distressed areas, to be expanded to residential housing developments, further eroding the property tax levies available to support public schools, libraries and other taxing units. The 935 TIF districts in Indiana already capture $30 billion in Assessed Value which supports TIF projects and not public schools or other governmental units.
Take Action!

In addition to your own Senator and House member, please contact the caucus leaders Sen. Bray-R (s37@iga.in.gov) Sen. Lanane-D (s25@iga.in.gov) Rep. Huston-R (h37@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bosma-R (h88@iga.in.gov) Rep. GiaQuinta-D) (h80@iga.in.gov).

Then contact members of the Conference Committee on HB 1605 to object to this sneak attack to divert property tax money from traditional public schools to charter schools:

Conferees to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Porter –D (h96@iga.in.gov) , Sen. Holdman (s19@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton (s3@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Tim Brown-R (h41@iga.in.gov) Rep. Mayfield – R (h60@iga.in.gov), Rep. Cherry (h53@iga.in.gov), Rep. Jordan (h17@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Hamilton – D (h87@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pierce – D (h61@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pryor –D (h94@iga.in.gov), Sen. Bohacek – R (s8@iga.in.gov), Sen. Rogers –R (s11@iga.in.gov) Sen. Niezgodski –R (s10@iga.in.gov)

ISSUE TWO: REJECT VOUCHER EXPANSION IN HOUSE BILL 1066

The Conference Committee on House Bill 1066 also met Monday morning March 9th and did not mention anything about the private school voucher expansion that had been approved in the House version but taken out in the Senate version. The House included voucher expansion costing, according to the Legislative Services Agency, between $6 million and $12 million to provide private school vouchers for foster students and their foster family siblings. Senator Mishler, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, took out the voucher expansion, saying he didn’t want to open the budget for this purpose when many other requests to open the budget were rejected.

The fact that this part of the bill was not mentioned this morning does not mean it’s off the table. Let the legislators below know that the budget should not be opened for school voucher expansion, especially when it was not opened to address the huge issue of teacher pay!

Conferees to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Vernon Smith –D (h14@iga.in.gov), Sen. Raatz-R (s27@iga.in.gov), Sen. Stoops-D (s40@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Behning-R (h91@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bacon – R (h75@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Klinker – D (h27@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pfaff – D (h43@iga.in.gov), Sen. Buchanan – R (s7@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton- D (S3@iga.in.gov)

Any contacts you can make with lawmakers in the next 24 hours on these two issues will help 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 representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #344 – March 7, 2020

Dear Friends,

Your help is needed this weekend on two issues. Please contact legislators on two Conference Committees before 9am this Monday morning (March 9).

ISSUE 1: DIVERTING PROPERTY TAX REFERENDUM MONEY TO CHARTER SCHOOLS

It was a sneak attack against funding for traditional public schools.

Amendment 6 to House Bill 1065 was filed Monday morning March 2nd just minutes before the filing deadline for consideration this session.

Amendment 6 to House Bill 1065 was filed after all committees had stopped meeting, circumventing all opportunities for public testimony.

With fall elections looming, Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Holcomb had tried to muzzle attacks on traditional public schools this session to keep from riling up the thousands of educators who marched on the Statehouse last November. Their muzzling act has now failed. Educators are riled and you should be too if you are an advocate of public education.

What did Amendment 6 do? It allowed charter schools for the first time to get a share of property tax referendum money when local school boards ask property taxpayers to raise taxes. This bad idea to divert some of the referendum money from traditional public schools to charters was defeated last session but has been raised again in this sneak attack as a “may” provision, seen as a step to next session’s effort to make it a “shall” provision.

The huge policy shift of this amendment was recognized by 16 Republican senators who voted “No.” The vote ended in a tie, 25-25. Lt. Governor Crouch vote “Yes” and the amendment passed, thus linking Governor Holcomb to the ire of public education advocates, just when he was trying to smooth things over for the election.

Ironically, this amendment to divert more money to charter schools was passed on the same afternoon that a different amendment failed saying charter schools should have state audits to prevent the $68 million fraud case in virtual charter schools from ever happening again. The effort to reform charter school audits went down 20-30.

Thus the shocking and unbelievable Senate response last Monday to the horrible $68 million virtual school fraud scandal was this: leave weak audits for charter schools in place and then divert property tax dollars from traditional public schools to charter schools in a new way.

Voters need to remember these actions and inactions in November.

Amazingly, the only Democrat to vote in favor came from Senator Tallian, who has since said it was a mistake. She is no doubt hoping as public school advocates are hoping that this provision, Sections 31-36, will die in the Conference Committee on HB 1065, which will meet on Monday, March 9, at 9:00 am to reconcile the House version and the Senate version of House Bill 1065.

Talking Points

Your help is needed! Contact the members of the Conference Committee on HB 1065 listed below with some or all of the following talking points:
  • This major change to the content of HB 1065 was passed without any opportunity for public testimony. This subverts the democratic process. It should be deferred to the budget session next year.
  • Charter schools often enroll students from outside the district. Allowing charter schools to receive referendum dollars from district taxpayers who don’t want to support out-of-district students may make referendum elections more difficult to pass.
  • In addition to tuition support from the funding formula, charter schools already get $750 per ADM that traditional schools don’t get to cover operating expenses.
  • Not one single public school asked for this language. Suggestions that this is being done to give public schools more “freedom” are misleading.
  • There is zero evidence that allowing charter schools access to referendum funds would make the referendum more likely to pass.
  • HB 1065 in Sections 37-39 also proposes TIF districts, originally devised to help distressed areas, to be expanded to residential housing developments, further eroding the property tax levies available to support public schools, libraries and other taxing units. The 935 TIF districts in Indiana already capture $30 billion in Assessed Value which supports TIF projects and not public schools or other governmental units.
Take Action!

In addition to your own Senator and House member, please contact the caucus leaders Sen. Bray-R (s37@iga.in.gov) Sen. Lanane-D (s25@iga.in.gov) Rep. Huston-R (h37@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bosma-R (h88@iga.in.gov) Rep. GiaQuinta-D) (h80@iga.in.gov).

Then contact members of the Conference Committee on HB 1605 to object to this sneak attack to divert property tax money from traditional public schools to charter schools:

Conferees to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Porter –D (h96@iga.in.gov) , Sen. Holdman (s19@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton (s3@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Tim Brown-R (h41@iga.in.gov) Rep. Mayfield – R (h60@iga.in.gov), Rep. Cherry (h53@iga.in.gov), Rep. Jordan (h17@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Hamilton – D (h87@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pierce – D (h61@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pryor –D (h94@iga.in.gov), Sen. Bohacek – R (s8@iga.in.gov), Sen. Rogers –R (s11@iga.in.gov) Sen. Niezgodski –R (s10@iga.in.gov)


ISSUE TWO: REJECT VOUCHER EXPANSION IN HOUSE BILL 1066

Also meeting Monday morning March 9th at 9:30am is the Conference Committee on HB 1066. The House included voucher expansion costing, according to the Legislative Services Agency, between $6 million and $12 million to provide private school vouchers for foster students and their foster family siblings. Senator Mishler, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, took out the voucher expansion, saying he didn’t want to open the budget for this purpose when many other requests to open the budget were rejected.

Now the two versions of HB 1066 will be reconciled by the Conferees listed below. Let them know that the budget should not be opened for school voucher expansion, especially when it was not opened to address the huge issue of teacher pay!

Conferees to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Vernon Smith –D (h14@iga.in.gov) , Sen. Raatz-R (s27@iga.in.gov), Sen. Stoops-D (s40@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Behning-R (h91@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bacon – R (h75@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Klinker – D (h27@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pfaff – D (h43@iga.in.gov), Sen. Buchanan – R (s7@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton- D (S3@iga.in.gov)


Any and all messages you can send to lawmakers this weekend on either issue will help 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 representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #343 – February 26, 2020

Dear Friends,

An astounding scandal is rocking the Statehouse in the closing weeks of the short session: Two virtual charter schools defrauded the taxpayers of Indiana of $68.7 million, according to a report filed February 12th by the State Board of Accounts.

The second shock hit on February 14th when it was revealed that State Senator Travis Holdman served as a paid consultant to these two virtual charter schools from 2011 to 2019, according to a report filed by Steve Hinnefeld, School Matters blogger based in Bloomington and confirmed in a story by well known reporter Niki Kelly in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on February 17th.

Your action this week outlined below can help prevent future fraud. Legislators can still act to correct auditing requirements for charter schools that are now obviously inadequate.

Fraud in Two Virtual Charter Schools

In a summary of the State Board of Accounts findings reported by Arika Herron on the front page of the Indianapolis Star on February 14th, the incredible dimensions of this fraud included:
  • “more than 14,000 students were counted as enrolled when they should not have been” between 2011 and 2019 in the Indiana Virtual Charter School and the Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy.
  • For three school years from 2016 through 2019, the “two schools received more than $103 million in state funds and funneled $85 million to related parties, including several companies run by the school’s founder , Thomas Stoughton and his son.”
  • “The state is requesting reimbursement of the $85 million, improperly paid to 14 different vendors that were related to the schools through a common employee of family member.”
Powerful Senator as Paid Consultant

There’s more to this shocking story: State Senator Travis Holdman was paid for eight years as a consultant to the two virtual charter schools (Indiana Virtual Charter School and Indiana Virtual Pathways School), according to reports by Steve Hinnefeld (School Matters) and Niki Kelly (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette).

Do other charter schools pay powerful legislators as consultants?

Senator Holdman has been in the Indiana Senate since 2008 and serves as chairman of the powerful Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee. He declined to tell the Journal Gazette on February 17th how much he was paid but considered it a small amount, saying “I tried to keep an arms-length business relationship with them. I’m terribly embarrassed to be linked in any way.”

Take Action

One problem that could by fixed in the current special session pertains to audits.

Public schools get audited by the State Board of Accounts. Everything is transparent. Charter schools, however, which have received $1.4 billion in the past five years from Indiana taxpayers according to figures cited by Sen. Mark Stoops, are not audited by the State Board of Accounts but instead can arrange for an audit by any private firm. Obviously, this didn’t work in the case of the two virtual schools.

The Senate Appropriations Committee meets Thursday morning February 27th and could amend HB 1066 or HB 1204 or some other related bill this week to say that charter schools must be audited by the State Board of Accounts, providing oversight and transparency.

The committee could also drop the proposal in HB 1066 to open the budget and expand private school vouchers to the 11,000 foster children in Indiana and their foster family siblings, at a cost estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to be $6 million to $12 million! The budget was not opened to boost teacher pay and should not be opened in this short session for expanding private school vouchers.

Let your legislators and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee know that you are appalled by this scandal and the loss of $68 million. Tell them:
  • all charter schools must be audited by the State Board of Accounts.
  • this can’t wait until next year.
  • they should fix the law for better audits yet this session.
  • the budget should not be opened to expand private school vouchers to foster children and their siblings, at a cost of $6 million to $12 million.
Senate Appropriations Committee members and their email addresses are:

Republican Senators Mishler (S9@iga.in.gov), Bassler (S39@iga.in.gov), Boots (S23@iga.in.gov), Brown (S15@iga.in.gov), Charbonneau (S5@iga.in.gov), Crider (S28@iga.in.gov), Ford (S38@iga.in.gov), Holdman (S19@iga.in.gov), Zay (S17@iga.in.gov)

Democrat Senators Tallian (S4@iga.in.gov), Breaux (S34@iga.in.gov), Melton (S3@iga.in.gov), Niezgodski (S10@iga.in.gov)

If you don’t read this in time for the Thursday, February 27th meeting, the Senate could still add second reading amendments to bills next week, so let them know how you feel about the virtual school scandal.


The Need for School Stability

Students need stable schools.

One of the great features of public schools run by elected boards for nearly 180 years is their stability as cornerstones of local communities.

Now, millions of taxpayer dollars are going to unstable private and charter schools run by unelected boards, whose closures disrupt the education of students in crucial ways.

Urge your Senator and your member of the House to stabilize our schools with proper audits.


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 representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #342 – February 10, 2020

Dear Friends,

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

On Monday February 17th, you along with your friends, family and colleagues are invited to a “Rally for Public Education”.

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

Go to the ICPE website for additional information: www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org

Renewed Attacks

Public education, an institution that has undergirded our democracy for 190 years, remains under attack:
  • Last Tuesday in the State of the Union address, President Trump falsely labeled public schools “failing government schools” as he called for $5 billion taxpayer dollars to go to private school scholarships.
  • We have a private school voucher advocate with no professional experience in public schools as US Secretary of Education.
  • Next year Indiana could mimic this unbelievable “lead without K-12 experience” problem. In 2019, the General Assembly passed a law confirming that the Governor of Indiana can appoint a Secretary of Education in 2021 who is not required to have any experience in K-12 education, replacing our elected State Superintendent of Public Education, an elected office serving Indiana since the 1851 Constitution.
  • Proposals in the current legislative short session to give teachers at least a small bonus from surplus funds were ignored by the supermajority. The excellent economy produced $291 million to be spent now, but it was all given to pay cash for college buildings. Underpaid teachers who came to the Statehouse in record numbers last November have been told to wait until next year.
Public education has been under attack for a long time. For an even longer time, public education has been a tremendous cornerstone to progress and democracy.

It’s time to remind the Statehouse of our support for 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!

Partners and Details

Many groups are partnering with the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, the organizer, to support the “Rally for Public Education” on Presidents’ Day. Others may be added. In alphabetical order, they are:

AFT Indiana

Concerned Clergy

Indiana Parent Teacher Association

IPS Community Coalition

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education

Washington Township Parent Council Network


Speakers at 2:00 pm in the North Atrium are being coordinated by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, and Joel Hand, ICPE will serve as MC. Speakers include:
Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana State Superintendent of Public Education

Gleneva Dunham, President, AFT Indiana

Julie Klingenberger, President, Indiana PTA

Dr. Phil Downs, Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Southwest Allen County Schools

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, President, Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Dountonia Batts, Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Justin Deem-Loureiro, Student

Zoe Bardon, Student

Emony Calloway, Student

Rev. Ramon Batts, Concerned Clergy
I hope to see you at the Statehouse!

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 representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #341 – February 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

It’s the elephant in the room.

Consider the teacher pay issue. Then come to the rally for public education on Monday, February 17 at 2 p.m. in the Statehouse.

At the half-way point in the short session of the General Assembly, proposals for a teacher pay bonus have been ignored by the Republican supermajority, with the message: wait until next year.

Over 15,000 teachers came to the Statehouse in November, a record-shattering number for an education issue. Their message: they need a pay increase to keep going.

Legislators had excess money from a good economy to hand out: $291 million. Did they give a little part of that for a teacher bonus?

No.

HB 1007 was passed quickly through both houses and has already been signed by Governor Holcomb giving all the extra money to pay cash for higher education buildings, rather than borrowing to build them as planned in the 2019 budget. This quick action guaranteed there would be no last minute attempt to fund teacher bonuses in the short session.

Democrats tried to amend the bill to spend the money on teacher pay. The amendments failed.

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick expressed disappointment in delaying new money for teacher pay in an interview on Channel 8 after Governor Holcomb’s State of the State speech, accurately commenting that “the Governor’s speech highlighted great things in the state, but teacher pay is not one of them.”

The supermajority priorities are clear here: buildings over teachers.

Why?

Why have Gov. Holcomb, Speaker Bosma and the Republican leadership team decided to ignore the plea of Indiana’s underpaid teachers for a bonus this session? Why have teachers been told to wait for another year?

I see four theories which may add to your own analysis.

Theory 1: Perhaps the Governor and Republican leaders have concluded that underpaid and angry teachers will not defeat them in the November election so there is no political need to provide a quick bonus now.

If Governor Holcomb was worried that teachers would rise up to block his re-election, he would have chosen to get on the good side of teachers with a bonus in the current session. Press reports prior to his State of the State address made it sound like he might help teachers now, but if he temporarily felt so inclined, he chose to fall in line with Republican legislative leaders who clearly did not want to add a teacher bonus in the short session. Instead, he announced a $250 million transfer in 2021 from the surplus to pay for local teacher pension payments, a move which he said would free up $50 million each year for extra teacher pay in both 2021-22 and 2022-23.

It is highly unusual to announce budget details more than a year in advance. Obviously, it assumes his re-election.

It is not clear how teachers will respond to this “wait another year” treatment.

Theory 2: Perhaps the Governor and Republican leaders believe they gave enough to K-12 in the 2019 budget, despite the pleas of teachers that the teacher shortage is still a huge problem due to low pay.

Republican leaders keep referring to the $763 million added to the 2019 budget, apparently thinking that was enough for the biennium and teachers shouldn’t be asking for more in a non-budget year.

Here’s how Republican leaders get to the $763 million figure:

Keep in mind that when counting new money, the new money for the first year must be repeated in the second year as the base for an additional increase. Thus, the new money in the 2019 budget was $178 million for a 2.5% increase in the first year plus $178 million to match that increase for the second year, plus $183 million to raise the second year by 2.5%.

That totals to $539 million. Compare this figure to $710 million new dollars added to the 2007 budget and $616 million new dollars (which then included property tax) added to the 1997 budget. Adding $539 million in the 2019 budget was not a historic high for K-12 tuition support.

Then the Governor’s 2019 plan to reduce pension payments by $150 million over two years was enacted.

Adding $150 million to the $539 million raised the 2019 total to $689 million.

Then categorical funding for specific programs like the Teacher Appreciation Fund received $74 million in new money.

Adding $74 million to $689 million raised the 2019 total to the number you have heard: $763 million.

Governor Holcomb has now clarified that his pension payment of $150 million last year freed up $65 million in each year of the biennium for teacher pay. Interestingly, that adds up to $130 million and the mantra of $763 million has apparently been reduced by $20 million. The Governor did not explain the $20 million discrepancy.

These are not numbers for a satisfied victory lap. The 2019 budget did not provide teacher pay increases that would keep teachers from moving to higher paying jobs in neighboring states or in another career.

Theory 3: Perhaps Republican leaders believe their own faulty analysis that local school boards are at fault for low teacher pay because they are spending too much on “overhead” and not enough on “classroom” spending.

Speaker Bosma’s response to the enormous teacher rally in November was to say that local school boards have had the money to pay teachers but are not spending it correctly on the classroom. He cites the statistics on classroom spending which say 58% of education dollars are spent on “the classroom.”

Public school advocates should know that the statistics he cites give a misleading and bogus narrative to the teacher pay issue.

“Dollars to the Classroom” has been a mantra of Republicans since a controversial 2006 law passed narrowly by the House 51-49 allowed Gov. Daniels to say: “We can’t keep shoveling money into a system where 40 cents off the top of every dollar goes to what is not essential.” (Jan. 18, 2009, Indiana Lawmakers, WFYI-TV)

Creating these misleading statistics was only designed to allow sound bites such as that from Governor Daniels above. It is completely unfair to criticize local school boards for non-classroom spending without knowing the circumstances of the district. Many essentials including facilities and debt are defined as “non-classroom” spending. Growing districts have to build new buildings and carry higher debt. That would lift their non-classroom spending and lower their percentage.

The classroom spending statistics are a cover for legislative leaders who have not put enough into K-12 education over the last decade to keep up with surrounding states.

What are the “overhead” spending categories defined in accordance with Indiana Code 20-42.5? Here is a complete listing of what Speaker Bosma thinks can and should be trimmed to boost teacher pay: (Numbers are from the chart of accounts)

23100 Board of Education
23200 Executive Administration/Superintendent Office Services
25100 Fiscal Services/Business Manager
25200 Purchasing Services
25300 Printing Services
25200 Planning, Research, Development and Evaluation
25600 Public Information Services
25700 Personnel Services
25800 Technology Services
25900 Other Support Services
26000 Maintenance Services
27000 Student Transportation
30000 Noninstructional Services (including food services)
40000 Facilities Acquisition and Construction
50000 Debt Services
60105 Donations to Foundations
60700 Scholarships

That’s the complete list for “non-classroom” spending. All other categories are called “classroom” spending and are then figured as a percentage of total spending, giving politicians the opportunity to criticize schools that fall below the arbitrary standard of 65%.

Pressure from Speaker Bosma and others to lower “operational, non-classroom” spending is egregiously wrong on two points:
1) Safe schools – Spending on safe schools, both on hardening buildings and on training, is an obvious priority in Indiana in the past two years, but it is considered “non-classroom” spending. It is wrong for Speaker Bosma and his supermajority leaders to pressure local leaders to spend less on school safety.

2) Public information and parent information – School choice requires schools to inform parents and to market their school to the community. If they don’t, their school will die from dwindling enrollment. Spending on parent information and marketing is categorized as “non-classroom” spending. If Speaker Bosma pressures local school districts to spend less on marketing in order to pay teachers, he is pushing for them to risk the very existence of the school which depends on parent information for enrollments. He can’t support school choice and simultaneously support cutting the money spent on marketing the school to parents.
Theory 4: Perhaps Republican leaders don’t see low teacher pay and the resulting teacher shortage as a big problem. They think it can wait. If teachers leave the classrooms of our public schools, then private schools look better and students may transfer to private schools, which some Republican leaders who want to privatize all of our schools would favor.


The step by step privatization of all public schools is the goal of those who favor the policies of Milton Friedman and libertarians like Charles Koch. To this faction, destabilizing traditional public schools with severe teacher shortages and teacher turnover will help bring about the deconstruction of public education and lead to the privatization transition they want.

Consider these four theories and let your legislators know you are concerned about teacher pay.

Two Things You Can Do
1) Communicate with your legislators to let them know you think teachers need a bonus in pay now, not next year. Too many schools are having real problems with teacher shortages and teacher turnover when teachers go for higher paying positions in other states or in other careers.

2) Come to the “Rally for Public Education” sponsored by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education to speak up for better K-12 funding for teacher pay and for other needs:

When? Monday, February 17, 2020, 2 p.m.

Where? The North Atrium of the Indiana Statehouse

Bring friends! Bring posters! Bring your voices! Wear RED for PUBLIC ED!

Check out rally details on the ICPE website: www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org

Thank you for your strong support for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

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