Saturday, January 31, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #198 – January 31, 2015

Dear Friends,

House Bill 1486 restoring peer comparisons to measure student growth in the A-F system and transferring operational authority in several areas from the IDOE to the State Board passed the House Education Committee Thursday morning (Jan. 29th) by a vote of 9-4, with 9 Republicans voting yes and 4 Democrats voting no.

Chairman Behning postponed until Thursday afternoon the hearing on House Bill 1609 removing the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. After the hearing, House Bill 1609 passed the committee in a party line vote of 8 to 3.

On Monday Feb. 2nd, the Senate Rules Committee will hold hearings on all three Senate Bills which would remove the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board, Senate Bills 1, 452 and 453 in Room 431 after adjournment of the 1:30 floor session of the Senate.

On Tuesday Feb. 3rd at 8:30am, the House Education Committee will hold hearings on three bills, including House Bill 1009, the “Freedom to Teach” bill, a complex set of changes endorsed by the Governor.

On Wednesday Feb. 4th at 1:30pm, the Senate Education Committee will hold hearings on three new bills, including Senate Bill 566, a long bill changing ISTEP, end-of-course assessments, innovation school availability, teacher licensing and collective bargaining.

On Thursday Feb. 5th at 8:30am, the House Education Committee will hold hearings on two bills, including House Bill 1638, a massive rewrite of PL221 shrinking the time for State Board intervention in failing schools from 6 years to 4 years and defining failing schools that require State Board intervention to include D schools. Public schools advocates will want to be active on this bill.

House Bill 1486

Thursday’s continuation of the hearing on HB 1486 carried over two speakers who signed up for Tuesday’s hearing, starting with my testimony. First, I urged the committee to reject changes that would allow peer comparisons in calculating student growth in the A-F system. Second, I urged the committee to maintain the current line between giving the State Board control of policy and giving IDOE control of implementing that policy, rather than giving the State Board new powers of operational control. My complete testimony is attached.

The second speaker called by Chairman Behning was James Bentley, a State Board staff attorney who said he was asked to testify by Brad Oliver. He spoke in detail about several programs where the State Board wanted clarification about additional authority, including teacher evaluation, ISTEP contracts, turnaround academies and calculating A-F grades. He also detailed testing expert Damian Betebenner’s advice that Indiana law should be changed yet again to allow peer comparisons in student growth formulas.

Dr. Betebenner, the consultant hired by the State Board as requested by Dan Elsener to advise the 16-member A-F panel, is no stranger to Indiana. His center was the source of Student Growth Percentile data prominently used by the IDOE for many years and incorporated into Dr. Bennett’s A-F growth metrics. His center provided the peer comparison growth data under a contract. Presumably, no further contracts would be possible if Indiana continues its ban on peer comparison growth measures.

Mr. Bentley touted Dr. Betebenner as one of two national experts saying Indiana should return to peer comparison growth data, but he did not disclose the past contracts with Dr. Betebenner or the possibility of future contracts for growth data. If the State Board staff is going to hold up Dr. Betebenner as the national expert telling the Indiana General Assembly we should remove the ban on peer comparisons, they should also reveal past contract information in order for the committee to review whether financial interests are linked to this advice.

I am hoping that the General Assembly’s new found interest in ethics and the media’s recent flurry of investigations into conflicts of interest will be applied in this case to see if any conflict of interest exists in this situation.

House Bill 1609

When Chairman Behning moved the hearing on House Bill 1609 to the afternoon, I could not participate in the hearing. My written testimony was distributed to the committee, and it is attached if you care to read more. My main point of opposition is that voters now pick the chair of the State Board, and this bill removes that power of the voters and gives it to ten appointees of the Governor. That shift reduces the power of voters in Indiana and thereby diminishes our democracy.

It should be noted that the bill expires on January 1, 2016, which means it only applies to the last two years of the State Superintendent’s term. The voters who elected Glenda Ritz in order to chair the State Board would have the intent of their vote changed mid-term by this bill.

You probably have seen in media coverage that State Superintendent Ritz testified personally against the bill, and then the committee voted to approve the bill in a party line vote.

Bills to be Heard Next Week

I have been following the work of Chairman Behning’s committee since he first became chair of the House Education Committee in 2005. For the first time in ten years, Representative Behning has announced the bills for the House Education Committee a week in advance. He has already posted the meeting agendas for Feb. 3 and Feb. 5.

What accounts for this remarkable change? Democrats on the committee, especially Representative Smith and Representative Austin, have been vocally critical of the procedures of the committee and the lack of notice about agendas. They should be thanked for their efforts, and Representative Behning should be thanked for responding with earlier agendas, giving the public a longer chance to review bills and talk with legislators about bills coming up next week.

Many such discussions with legislators are in order. The most controversial bills in my list are Senate Bills 1, 452 and 453 (Monday), House Bill 1009 (Tuesday), Senate Bill 566 (Wednesday) and House Bill 1638 (Thursday).

Senate Bills 1, 452 and 453 would all remove the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. It would be great to see a big turnout of speakers against these bills.

House Bill 1009 would create “transformation zone” schools which would not be covered by collective bargaining and would allow higher pay for highly effective teachers.

Senate Bill 566 would replace ISTEP testing with the BEST testing program.

House Bill 1638 would make D schools eligible for state takeover as well as F schools and would reduce the time to state intervention from 6 years to 4 years. These concepts were soundly defeated on the floor of the House in 2013 (in House Bill 1337) but they are back to be considered in HB 1638 by the request of the very active State Board of Education.

Contact Your Legislators

Contact members of the House Education Committee and the Senate Rules and Education Committees with your thoughts these important bills.

One good way to contact legislators is to go to the website of the Indiana General Assembly and click on the committee hearing the bill. On the left you will see the committee members. Then click on each one and click on “Send an email.”

Thanks for your efforts in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

“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. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need 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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Random Thoughts about School Choice

by Phyllis Bush

What is so distressing about the "SCHOOL CHOICE" rhetoric is that the language is so innocuous and comforting that it is hard to cut through all the words to understand what is really being said. When I first heard about vouchers and charters, I also was convinced that these ideas sounded like great alternatives to some of the issues facing education. At that time I was unaware of the unintended consequences, and unfortunately, our policy makers are still unaware. These formerly good ideas have morphed into some not such great realities.

Of course, not all private or charter schools are for profit. Many of them actually do a great job. However, the CHOICE advocates have couched their talking and selling points into glittering generalities in order to hide the realities of what is really happening.

First, parents have always had choice, but politicians and choice salespeople seem to think that this is a concept that they have invented to help the poor struggling ghetto kids since the choice advocates are the only ones smart enough or caring enough to know what is best for the children.

Before the "choice" juggernaut began, parents always had the choice to send their children to private or parochial schools. When families did not have the money, most parishes had funds set aside to help those children. Some families chose parochial schools because they wanted their children to have religious education. Others chose them because they wanted to be away from the riffraff of public schools, and parochial school choice sounds so much more acceptable than "white flight."

Interestingly enough, FWCS opened Richard Milburn School as its own charter experiment about 15 years ago with the intention of helping the kids who seemed to be square pegs in a round hole school system. For whatever reason, that school closed its doors in 2006. I'm not sure why, but my guess is that it was that it was probably too expensive for FWCS to maintain along with its traditional schools. In fact, the Smith Academy seems to have been created for the same reasons. So there are good charters.

My objections to school choice are quite simple. For those who say that charter or voucher schools funds are only a small portion of the huge education budget, that is true. However, that seemingly small portion of the budget siphons a huge amount of money from the already cash strapped and fiscally overwhelmed traditional public schools. While this whole scheme looks quite good in talking points, the reality is that most of these schools have little to no oversight or transparency, and they also get to play by a whole different set of rules.


HB 1486 tilts the playing field, yet again.

If the education moneys were under local control (and that will probably never happen in my life time), local districts could make their own decisions and could levy their own taxes and could call for referendums. However, the way that Indiana has structured education funding, in the guise of fixing schools (because educators and localities apparently are not as smart as florists and pompous attorneys), they have managed to tilt the playing field where public schools have become the orphan of school funding.

Sadly, our legislators and the CHOICE privateers have sold the public a bill of goods about failing schools, and with their talking points they have managed to convince the public that all of these destructive laws MUST BE PASSED to save us all because they obviously know more than educators or the public.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #197 – January 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

The hearing on House Bill 1486 this morning in the House Education Committee was suspended at 11:00am. The hearing will be completed at the Thursday (Jan. 29th) meeting beginning at 8:30am in Room 156C of the Statehouse. The committee will then vote on the bill which restores peer comparisons to the measures of student growth in A-F metrics and transfers operational authority in several areas from the Indiana Department of Education to the State Board, as I outlined in Vic’s Statehouse Notes #196 sent out yesterday.

If you object to the return of norm-referenced growth measures in the A-F law or the expansion of powers of the State Board, you should contact members of the House Education Committee before Thursday morning.

House Bill 1609 is also scheduled for a hearing and vote at Thursday’s meeting. HB 1609 would remove the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board and allow board members to elect a chair annually, effective as soon as the law is passed. I strongly oppose HB 1609. If you feel as I do, contact members of the House Education Committee or come to testify.


House Bill 1486

After passing two bills 11-0, one on bargaining issues and one to give teachers a $200 tax credit for supplies, Representative Thompson presented his controversial bill to give the State Board more authority over several functions now controlled by the State Superintendent and the Indiana Department of Education.

I will reprint the list of points that I sent out last night in Notes #196:

HB 1486 would:
  • Rewrite Indiana’s school accountability law Public Law 221 for only the third time since 1999, the legal basis for the A-F school grading system, deleting an important line added in 2013 that banned the “measurement of student performance or growth compared with peers.” This would open the door to reinstating the current flawed A-F system that is embedded with peer based growth comparisons, also known as norm-referenced measures.
  • Delete the word “individual” from the definition of growth in the A-F system, allowing a return to the days of judging schools by results of large groups of different students and ignoring the before and after scores of the same individual student.
  • Take away the power of the IDOE to develop ISTEP tests and give it to the State Board.
  • Put the setting of ISTEP passing scores now overseen by IDOE in the hands of “independent experts” selected by the State Board.
  • Change the State Board from a policy body to a nuts and bolts operations body by giving the power to “oversee the operation of turnaround academies” to the State Board.
  • Give the State Board new authority to audit or evaluate any educational program based on data the IDOE would be required to provide.
  • Put the State Board rather than the IDOE in charge of the teacher evaluation program, allowing the State Board to set “a minimum and maximum threshold for the use of objective measures of student achievement and growth in all staff performance evaluation plans,” taking away local control in the current law and pointing the way to Dr. Bennett’s often stated goal that at least 51% of each evaluation should be based on student test results.
  • Change the control by the state over the local evaluation plan from “may” to “shall” language, leading to the loss of local control as districts set plans to evaluate their teachers.
  • Remove the power of IDOE to determine which other subjects besides “the big four” subjects will have academic standards and give that power to the State Board.
  • Mandate a “statewide assessment administered in grade 3 that serves as a determinant evaluation of reading skills in grade 3” which “shall be referred to as IREAD-3”. The 2010 law pushed through by Dr. Bennett made no mention of a test or of IREAD-3 which was mandated later via rules of the State Board.
State Board member Brad Oliver testified in favor of the bill. Six speakers testified against one or more elements of the bill: John O’Neill, ISTA; Joel Hand, ICPE; Scott Turney, Small and Rural Schools Association; Sally Sloan, AFT-Indiana; Brian Smith, ISBA; and John Barnes, IDOE. At that point, Chairman Behning said the other two speakers, including me, will be called on Thursday, followed by the vote.

John Barnes, representing Superintendent Ritz and the IDOE, said, “We see this as an irresponsible power grab.” He pointed to the duplication of services by the duplicate staff which could cost in the neighborhood of $5 million. He quoted Senator Kruse regarding the intent of the language on the teacher evaluation program: “Please quote me. I wrote this language. ‘Significant’ was the intent.” The proposed bill would change the word “significant” and have the State Board set a minimum and maximum percentage of student test data to be figured into teacher evaluations, which was suggested by Brad Oliver in his testimony to likely be 33% to 50%.

House Bill 1609

Several bills have been filed to reduce the power of State Superintendent Ritz. This is the first to be scheduled for a hearing. It would allow State Board members to elect a chair on an annual basis, and it would take effect immediately upon passage. It is sponsored by Representatives McMillan and Wesco.

I strongly oppose this bill. Changing the powers of the State Superintendent during the term in which she was elected is offensive to the voters who elected her to fulfill the powers of the office at the time they voted. This bill completely ignores and undercuts the power of Hoosier voters and in that way undercuts our democracy.

Contact House Education Committee Members before 8:30am Thursday

Contact members of the House Education Committee about your concerns about House Bill 1486 and House Bill 1609. Representative Behning is the chair of the committee. Republican members of the committee are Representatives Rhoads, Burton, Clere, Cook, DeVon, Fine, Lucas, and Thompson. Democrats on the committee are Representatives Vernon Smith, Austin, Errington and Moed.

Every email and phone call helps!

Thanks for your efforts in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

“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. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need 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, January 27, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #196 – January 26, 2015

Dear Friends,

House Bill 1486 was posted at 1:30pm today for a hearing at 8:30am tomorrow, January 27th. Reading HB 1486 late this afternoon motivated me to alert you to a series of controversial changes that I strongly oppose.

HB 1486 would:
  • Rewrite Indiana’s school accountability law Public Law 221 for only the third time since 1999, the legal basis for the A-F school grading system, deleting an important line added in 2013 that banned the “measurement of student performance or growth compared with peers.” This would open the door to reinstating the current flawed A-F system that is embedded with peer based growth comparisons, also known as norm-referenced measures.
  • Delete the word “individual” from the definition of growth in the A-F system, allowing a return to the days of judging schools by results of large groups of different students and ignoring the before and after scores of the same individual student.
  • Take away the power of the IDOE to develop ISTEP tests and give it to the State Board.
  • Put the setting of ISTEP passing scores now overseen by IDOE in the hands of “independent experts” selected by the State Board.
  • Change the State Board from a policy body to a nuts and bolts operations body by giving the power to “oversee the operation of turnaround academies” to the State Board.
  • Give the State Board new authority to audit or evaluate any educational program based on data the IDOE would be required to provide.
  • Put the State Board rather than the IDOE in charge of the teacher evaluation program, allowing the State Board to set “a minimum and maximum threshold for the use of objective measures of student achievement and growth in all staff performance evaluation plans,” taking away local control in the current law and pointing the way to Dr. Bennett’s often stated goal that at least 51% of each evaluation should be based on student test results.
  • Change the control by the state over the local evaluation plan from “may” to “shall” language, leading to the loss of local control as districts set plans to evaluate their teachers.
  • Remove the power of IDOE to determine which other subjects besides “the big four” subjects will have academic standards and give that power to the State Board.
  • Mandate a “statewide assessment administered in grade 3 that serves as a determinant evaluation of reading skills in grade 3” which “shall be referred to as IREAD-3”. The 2010 law pushed through by Dr. Bennett made no mention of a test or of IREAD-3 which was mandated later via rules of the State Board.
Enough Said! Contact Members of the House Education Committee

This is a lot to digest in the 19 hours between posting the hearing and the 8:30am meeting.

I would love to take time to amplify my concerns, especially the first two bullets above that open the door to a return of norm-referenced growth comparisons that were debunked to the point that the 2013 legislature voided the A-F system and required a new system.

At least they thought they did.

The Governor and many current State Board members have embraced the old flawed system that Dr. Bennett created, which has been used to grade schools three times now with a plan to use it once again next fall. Now this proposed bill would allow them to keep it permanently.

I must stop here and urge you to contact members of the House Education Committee about your concerns about House Bill 1486. The chair of the committee is Representative Behning, who sponsored the 2013 bill on A-F (HB 1427) which would be reversed in part by this bill. Republican members of the committee are Representatives Rhoads, Burton, Clere, Cook, DeVon, Fine, Lucas, and Thompson. Representative Thompson is the sponsor of HB 1486. Democrats on the committee are Representatives Vernon Smith, Austin, Errington and Moed.

Make as many contacts as you can about one or several of the points above. Every email and phone call helps!

Thanks for your efforts in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

“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. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need 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, January 23, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #195 – January 23, 2015

Dear Friends,

Governor Pence’s budget cost estimates have been updated by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency and by his own policy director in testimony Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The new official figures for funding charter schools and vouchers leave extremely low increases for traditional public school funding: 1.3% in the first year and 0.3% in the second year. These are calculated based strictly on the cost estimates for charter schools and vouchers announced by state officials.

There are other costs not mentioned by officials which would make these increases even lower.

Let your legislators know that they must do better than the Governor, who has set a very low standard to beat. The “2%/1%” 2013 budget was a historically low budget for public school funding, producing $330 million in new public school funding for the biennium. As low as that was, the Governor’s new budget would give only $200 million to public schools, with about $100 million going to upgrades for charter school funding and voucher funding.

This extremely low budget during healthy economic times suggests that Governor Pence cares little about giving public school students the resources they need in their current schools. His budget seems to favor private and charter schools over public schools.

The Senate Appropriations Committee Meeting on January 22nd

Senator Kenley focused the first meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee on the Governor’s proposal to give charter schools a new grant of $1500 per student. He invited and received testimony from Chad Timmerman, Governor Pence’s education policy director, from State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and from Russ Simnick, policy director of the National Alliance of Charter Schools.

Chad Timmerman made the case that charter schools need additional funding because they don’t get property tax funding for facilities. Glenda Ritz reviewed the extensive work she has done to help charter schools improve and said that the fairest way to go would be to add to the tuition support of all schools. Russ Simnick said that Indiana is ranked as #2 in the nation in the climate for charter schools and the reason it is not #1 is the need for better funding.

Following these presentations, testimony was invited from the public. Joel Hand gave the testimony for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, raising two key concerns. First he cited ICPE opposition to for-profit K-12 schools and asked how the General Assembly can assure taxpayers that a $1500 increase per charter school student will go to student learning and not to give investors a bigger profit. Second, referring to the LSA list showing per pupil support from all revenue sources, he cited 16 charter schools that even without property tax are averaging a higher per pupil average than the grand state average of $11,783 from all revenue sources. He asked how the General Assembly can reassure taxpayers that extra money for charter schools will be used to equalize funding and not to give a bonanza of dollars to these 16 charter schools that are already above average in total revenue. This would create inequity, not remove it.

The complete ICPE testimony on the charter school proposal is attached.

The Governor’s Budget after Cost Estimates were Revised

Based on the testimony of Chad Timmerman, the Governor’s budget proposal for school funding can now be analyzed more precisely.
First year of the new budget, FY2016:
1) The Governor wants tuition support to increase $134 million (2% increase).

2) Chad Timmerman said the cost of the charter school proposal would be $41 in FY2016.

3) LSA has written a fiscal estimate (dated 1-16-15) saying removing the voucher cap would cost $3.8 million.

4) $134 million minus $41 million (charters) minus $3.8 million (vouchers) = $89.2 million left for traditional public schools.

5) $89.2 million is a 1.3% increase over the current budget, less than the cost of living.

6) $89.2 million for 1,040,000 public school students = $86 total increase per public school student. This compares unfavorably to the $1500 total increase per charter school student.
Second year of the new budget, FY2017:
1) The Governor wants tuition support to increase $67 million (1% increase).

2) Chad Timmerman said the cost of the charter school proposal would be $45.5 million in FY2017.

3) LSA has written a fiscal estimate (dated 1-16-15) saying removing the voucher cap in FY2017 is a cost that can’t be calculated at this time.
4) $67 million minus $45.5 million (charters) = $21.5 million left for traditional public schools.

5) $21.5 million is a 0.3% increase over the current budget, far less than the cost of living.

6) $21.5 million for 1,040,000 public school students = $20 total increase per public school student.
A budget like this would clearly hurt our public school students.

These figures are summarized on an attached page for your use with legislators.

Additional Costs the Governor Does Not Want to Talk About

There is an additional fiscal cost which comes out the tuition support budget that the Governor doesn’t like to talk about. The voucher program, due to the 2013 expansion, is no longer saving the state money as it did in the first two years but is now a fiscal cost which must be paid for from the same tuition support line item.

How big is the net cost of the voucher program? A precise accounting in a financial report by the IDOE dated June 17, 2014 pegged the cost at $16 for 2013-14. No new cost figures have been released for 2014-15, but since the number of vouchers increased by 50% in 2014-15 to 30,000, it is reasonable to say that the cost of the voucher program has also increased by 50%, from $16 million up to $24 million. That $24 million has to come out of the Governor’s budget for tuition support and obviously would reduce the figures above for public schools even further.

Governor Pence’s budget is not fair to public schools. Share your concerns with members of the House and Senate who will write their own budgets in the weeks ahead.

Senate Bill 169

In the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday (Jan. 21st), Chairman Kruse proposed an amendment to SB 169 to make the IREAD-3 proposal to be the subject of a summer study committee. He said the discussion last week showed that there was more to the proposal than he first thought and that it would need extensive study in a summer study committee. The amendment was accepted and the bill passed 9-0 to send it to a summer committee.

Contact Legislators about Public School Funding

Let members of the House and Senate know that the Governor’s “2%/1%” plan is really a “1.3%/0.3%” for public schools. It is sad that the Governor’s budget shows such little support for community public schools.

In the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, Senator Rogers pointed out that the Governor is now saying that in order to improve charter schools, more money is needed. She said that in the past, the Governor has said that money is not needed for schools to improve, but she says with this charter proposal, the Governor has turned his position around to saying that money is needed to improve. She said she hopes that the Governor will always remember this in the future.

Many districts have “Third House” or “Cracker Barrel” meetings on Saturday where you can talk with members of the House and Senate about the budget needs of public school students. Let them know how public school students need better support than the Governor has proposed.

Thanks for your efforts in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

“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. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need 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 21, 2015

Support INSPIRE

Below is a letter to State Senator Zakas (R-11) from one of our readers, Bob Raz.
Dear Senator Zakas:

I live in your district and this is the first time I have contacted you. My concern is the proposed cuts to the Indiana State Library in the current budget. I am 72 years old and am still working as a consultant. I use an excellent online resource provided by the State Library through my Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Library. It is INSPIRE.

Now I am having an especially difficult time trying to determine how the Republican platform can espouse support for education and at the same time “save” money by cutting support for INSPIRE. This $1.3 million investment by the state saves much more than that all across the state for universities, schools, public libraries and individuals doing research. Purchasing reference tools at the state level makes all of these resources available to everyone with access through a library card, public school or college.

I urge you to read the attached letter from the State Librarian to educate yourself on just what this great reference tool really is. There are, of course, many companies in our country that create research information. It is a product that they don’t make available free over the internet – they sell their product. The state buys for everyone, thus saving millions of local dollars that would be spent to purchase these important research tools.

Cutting the State Library budget is not saving anything – it is cutting out an investment in Indiana’s education network.

Please let me know what you will do about this and show me that the Republican platform support for education is not just a platitude.

Thank you.

Robert Raz
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