Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #226 – September 3, 2015

From Vic Smith...for anyone who might be planning to be near Merrillville on September 10, 2015. ICPE is planning a meeting in Fort Wayne on October 3. Click here for more information.

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Dear Friends,

After an excellent meeting last Saturday in Indianapolis, the second Indiana Coalition for Public Education meeting will be held in Merrillville on Thursday, September 10th. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz has told us she will be there, and a panel of area legislators will also be there.

We hope you and your friends who would like to restore public education to a high priority will be there as well!

The meeting will be on Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 6:30 pm CDT in the Merrillville High School Auditorium, Entrance M, 276 E. 68th Place, Merrillville.


Speakers

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz confirmed her appearance on September 10th in Merrillville while addressing the meeting last Saturday. In addition, a panel of four area legislators will be speaking:
  • Sen. Rick Niemeyer – R, District 6
  • Sen. Earlene Rogers – D, District 3
  • Rep. Harold Slager – R, District 15
  • Rep. Vernon Smith – D, District 14
Six Questions about the Future of Public Education in Indiana

The future of public education is now in play in every session of the General Assembly and in every election. The discussion on September 10th will focus on six questions that we have asked our speakers to address:

1. What do you see coming up in the 2016 legislative session that might help or hurt public schools? What priority do you place on providing public funding to private schools?

2. What is your position on expanding or curtailing the choice scholarship voucher program, now using public money to pay for 29,000 private school vouchers?

3. What is your position on the Scholarship Granting Organization tax credit program? There have been bills to automatically give higher state funding to SGO tax credits if donation levels reach certain goals. Are we going to continue to see this concept come up in future sessions?

4. What role do you see for public schools in holding communities together and supporting the civic participation of young citizens in our democracy? How is that role changing as our public school system in Indiana is increasingly privatized?

5. Are we likely to see new legislation to change the role of high stakes testing or reduce the amount of testing? Do we need legislative action to allow parents to opting out of testing without penalizing students or their schools?

6. How do you as legislators react to the current duplication of services between the State Board of Education staff and the Indiana Department of Education staff?

We are pleased that State Superintendent Ritz and the four area legislators have responded to our invitation.

Please come on September 10th and get involved in ICPE’s efforts to support public education.

I hope you can support public education in Indiana by coming to our ICPE meeting on September 10th.

A flyer about the September 10th program is attached for you to share with others who support public education and might come to this meeting.

If you can’t come on that date, please consider coming to one of the subsequent meetings in five other cities around Indiana. The next is on Thursday, September 17th at West Lafayette High School at 7:00 pm EDT.

Thanks for your advocacy 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 continues to represent ICPE during the interim study committee meetings in August and September. Our work in support of public education in the Statehouse goes on. 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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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Amy Valens


1. Why is public education advocacy important to you?
The founders of our country used the motto e pluribus unum: out of many, one. Public schools have been an important vehicle for that idea, allowing the many to know each other, and to grow as one, respecting differences but sharing common understandings of what it means to be part of this democracy. While there is much that needs to be addressed in public schools, the institution still holds the greatest possibilities for shared notions of equality--the basis for a just society.

2. As an advocate, what accomplishment have you found most satisfying?
The two films that my husband and I have made, August to June: Bringing Life to School, and Good Morning Mission Hill: The Freedom to Teach, The Freedom to Learn, have been used by communities and individuals to show positive examples of what public education can look like when teachers and children are given the support that creates meaningful learning. In this time of standardization and negative portrayals of public education it is extremely satisfying to think we have brought hope to thousands of people who have seen our films on television, or attended a community screening where they were able to meet like minded people and feel less alone...perhaps even empowered to speak up, opt out, or stay engaged in some other way. A growing number of schools of education are using our films as part of teacher training, giving student teachers an experience of non-test-driven public school classrooms that might otherwise not be available to them.

3. What are some of your frustrations or obstacles that you have met or overcome?
When liberal members of Congress told me that testing would raise poor and minority children out of poverty, I realized the extent of the disconnect between my experience and the powers that be. The misuse of 'data' by news media, corporations, and politicians is boggling, but it couldn't keep parents from eventually recognizing that something was very wrong. It has taken time and many voices being raised, but this year we have seen that change is possible. This is not the time to stop. This is the time to put forward alternatives to the wrong-headed ideas we have been fighting.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #224 – August 26, 2015

Dear Friends,

Glenda Ritz has accepted our invitation to speak at our first ICPE membership meeting on August 29th at 2pm.

It will be held in the Washington Township Community and Education Center at the corner of 86th Street and Woodfield Crossing in Indianapolis.

Can you join us to hear the latest update by Glenda Ritz on education issues in Indiana after an eventful summer?

Can you join us to hear the newest data on improvement in Indiana’s public schools as I unveil the new edition of “A 25 Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools“?

I hope to see you on Saturday.

The Changing Landscape in the Race for Governor


Based on the crucial power of the Governor to lift or degrade public education in Indiana, the ICPE board instituted a plan to invite all candidates for Governor to discuss the future of public education in a series of seven meetings this fall. On July 20th, letters were mailed to all four candidates: Mike Pence, John Gregg, Glenda Ritz and Karen Tallian.

Much has happened since.

On August 7th, Glenda Ritz announced she is leaving the race for Governor and instead will run for reelection as State Superintendent. A few days later she endorsed John Gregg.

On August 17th, Karen Tallian announced she is leaving the race for Governor and endorsed John Gregg.

Mike Pence has not responded to our invitation.

John Gregg has said in a television interview that he and Glenda Ritz are running as a team and that she will be his “point person” on education policy. At our meeting on Saturday, Glenda Ritz presumably will be able to comment for herself and for John Gregg on our six questions regarding the future of public education:

1. As Governor, what priority would you give to public education in Indiana and what priority would you give to providing public funding to private schools?

2. As Governor, would you work to expand or to curtail the choice scholarship voucher program, now using public money to pay for 29,000 private school vouchers? What steps would you take to expand or reduce the program?

3. As Governor, would you work to expand or to reduce the Scholarship Granting Organization tax credit program? Would you support or oppose an escalator clause giving higher state funding to SGO tax credits automatically if donation levels reach certain goals?

4. What role do you see for public schools in holding communities together and supporting the civic participation of young citizens in our democracy? How is that role changing as our public school system in Indiana is increasingly privatized?

5. How would you change the role of high stakes testing in Indiana to allow for more instructional time and to promote attention to subjects other than the tested subjects of language arts and math? What is your position on parents opting out of testing?

6. How would you address the current duplication of services between the State Board of Education staff and the Indiana Department of Education staff?

Join us on August 29th and get involved in the battle to save and restore public education.

“A 25-Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools” – The New Report

Did you know that the graduation rate for the public schools of the state of Indiana leaped up to 89.8% for the Class of 2014, the most recent year reported?

That is up 1.5% above the Class of 2013.

That is only a fraction shy of the 90% goal that has been talked about for years.

That is nearly 14% higher than the 2006 figure using the new four years or less methodology when the first result was 76.1%.

That is way above the figure frequently shown this summer in advertisements for WFYI Channel 20’s American Graduate Project which claimed Indiana’s graduation rate to be 76% and listed all the benefits that would happen if we could lift our graduation rate to 90%.

Someone should tell Channel 20 the news is better than they think.

Through all the controversies and all the efforts to diminish the work of public school educators, the public schools of Indiana have continued to steadily and methodically improve over the past 25 years. The evidence is clear.

This and other points of improvement are found in the latest edition of my annual report entitled “A 25 Year Review: Improvement in Indiana’s Public Schools” which will be unveiled at the August 29th ICPE membership meeting at the Dean Evans Center.

This report as well as information about the important report critical of Indiana’s voucher program released by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability last April will follow the presentation by Glenda Ritz.

Saving public education and restoring it to a high priority will take all of us who are dedicated to the mission of an excellent public education available to all students.

I hope you will join us on Saturday, August 29th at 2pm at the Dean Evans Center. If you can’t come Saturday, please consider coming to one of the subsequent meetings in six other cities around Indiana.

Thanks for your advocacy 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 continues to represent ICPE during the interim study committee meetings in August and September. Our work in support of public education in the Statehouse goes on. 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.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Randy Harrison



1. Why is public education advocacy important to you?

Public Education is the cornerstone of our Democratic way of life and it should not be sold to the highest corporate bidder.


2. As an advocate, what accomplishment have you found most satisfying?

As a Vice Pres., COPE Chair and now President of Anderson Federation of Teachers 519 it has been my honor and pleasure to lobby, walk in campaigns, host campaign functions and help elect pro-public education leaders like Glenda Ritz and Melanie Wright. It has also been very rewarding to negotiate policies that benefit our children, our school district and our entire teaching /support staffs.


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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Gayle Cosby

1. Why is public education advocacy important to you?
Advocating for public education is important to me because education is the only thing I know that can somewhat level the playing field in terms of opportunities for kids regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Public education is dear to my heart because I attended Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Despite circumstances that could have served as roadblocks to opportunity (I gave birth to my oldest child at age 15) the public school education that I received prepared me well for college.

2. As an advocate, what accomplishment have you found most satisfying?
I was very excited when I was able to facilitate a partnership between IPS and Teacher's Treasures, a local nonprofit which gives teachers school supplies on a monthly basis for a small membership fee. All IPS teachers are now able to shop monthly at Teacher's Treasures, at no cost to them. During my tenure, IPS has also begun giving universal free lunch to every student in the district, regardless of family income. I believe this eliminates a potentially stigmatizing situation for many of our students - as a kid I always had to hand over my blue lunch card, and everyone knew I got "free lunch."

3. What are some of your frustrations or obstacles that you have met or overcome?
Admittedly, it is difficult to be in a position where you are in a minority of one. Your voice alone is offering dissenting views, and while it is incredibly important for the public to hear ideas other than the mainstream, it can be frustrating to passionately believe something, share your opinions at public meetings, but have to watch those ideas constantly being voted down by a pro-"reform" board majority. It is also frustrating to constantly use your one vote to take a stand against privatization measures, but knowing that ultimately your one vote will not affect the overall course of events.

4. What keeps you going?
I'm inspired by the fact that more residents of Indianapolis are catching on to what is happening, and they seem ready to insist their voices be heard. I am also motivated by the fact that my four year old son is entering the IPS district this year. I want public education to remain strong for his generation and more to come.

5. What do you want parents to know about public education issues?
Public schools have taken a beating in the media, but if you look closely at what public schools have to offer, you will probably find a school that fits your child's individual learning style, needs, and interests. Don't believe the hype.

6. How can parents get involved in advocating of public schools?
Seek out relationships with the school, the parents, parent groups...attend board meetings, read and educate yourself about what happens at the decision-making levels of your district - because it ultimately will affect the classroom.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Everyday Advocates - Stephen Eric Bryden

1. Why is public education advocacy important to you?
I was raised to stand up for what I believe in. I am a teacher who happens to be an optimist in denial of the status of public education. In spite of constant reminders to the contrary, I need to lie to myself that things will change. People in positions of power (and, more importantly, the dollars of those who influence and back them) could care less about what is best for children. The rage and frustration I often feel would eat me from the inside if I were not to use it as fuel for external actions. I refuse to stand by as developmentally appropriate education gets chipped further and further away by a system of global businesses whose interests lie in mining children for data in the name of profit, gutting the livelihood of public schools with vouchers, and brazenly wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on charter schools. This is David trying to fight a Goliath who owns not only the ever-shrinking battlefield, but also the slingshot store. Until we can play by rules not instituted to destroy what we do, educators will keep spending more disheartening time concerning themselves with compliance over learning.

2. What do you want parents to know about public education issues?
School reform is a hoax presented to reap profits. Standardized tests are a great measure...of socioeconomic status. The people telling us how and what to teach send their kids to private schools with none of those expectations. Follow the money. Inform yourselves. Vote.

3. Why are public schools important to everyone in a community?
Unlike charter schools, we accept everyone. Unlike voucher schools, we don't take taxpayer money and use it to rebuild churches. We teach children.
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Friday, August 7, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #223 – August 6, 2015

Dear Friends,

We have learned definitively in the past four years that whoever holds the office of Governor – not the State Superintendent but the Governor -- carries the most weight in deciding whether Indiana’s public schools get support and funding and whether public education flourishes or recedes in Indiana.

Four candidates have declared that they want to run for Governor in 2016. The campaign is on.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education has invited all four candidates in a letter mailed on July 20th to discuss six questions about public education with ICPE members and prospective members at a series of seven ICPE membership meetings throughout Indiana.

Please check out the list of meetings below and plan to come to one or more. Bring along a friend who supports public education! Membership meetings are open to all ICPE members and those who are considering membership.

Seven ICPE Meetings


All who support public education are welcome to come to one or more of the fall meetings:

Saturday, August 29 – Indianapolis Dean Evans Center, 8550 Woodfield Crossing Blvd., 2 pm (E.D.T.)

Thursday, September 10 – Lowell Lowell High School Auditorium, 2051 East Commercial Ave., 6:30 pm (C.D.T .)

Thursday, September 17 – West Lafayette West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School Auditorium, 1105 N. Grant Street, 7 pm (E.D.T.)

Saturday, October 3 – Fort Wayne Ivy Tech Coliseum Campus Auditorium, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd., 2 pm (E.D.T.)

Tuesday, October 13 –Bloomington City Hall, 401 North Morton, 7 pm (E.D.T.)

Tuesday, October 20 – Evansville Central Library, 200 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., 6:30 (C.D.T.)

Wednesday, October 21 – New Albany Location TBA, 7 pm (E.D.T.)

Please note the northwest Indiana meeting (Sept. 10th) and the southwest Indiana meeting (Oct. 20) are on Central time.

Six Questions

You are probably familiar with the four declared gubernatorial candidates, listed alphabetically:
  • John Gregg
  • Mike Pence
  • Glenda Ritz
  • Karen Tallian
Since ICPE is a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy group in support of public education, all four candidates were invited in exactly the same way to speak or to send a spokesperson empowered to speak on their behalf to address six key questions:

1. As Governor, what priority would you give to public education in Indiana and what priority would you give to providing public funding to private schools?

2. As Governor, would you work to expand or to curtail the choice scholarship voucher program, now using public money to pay for 29,000 private school vouchers? What steps would you take to expand or reduce the program?

3. As Governor, would you work to expand or to reduce the Scholarship Granting Organization tax credit program? Would you support or oppose an escalator clause giving higher state funding to SGO tax credits automatically if donation levels reach certain goals?

4. What role do you see for public schools in holding communities together and supporting the civic participation of young citizens in our democracy? How is that role changing as our public school system in Indiana is increasingly privatized?

5. How would you change the role of high stakes testing in Indiana to allow for more instructional time and to promote attention to subjects other than the tested subjects of language arts and math? What is your position on parents opting out of testing?

6. How would you address the current duplication of services between the State Board of Education staff and the Indiana Department of Education staff?

To date, we have not had a response from any of the four candidates, but we are confident that at least some of the candidates will want to address Indiana citizens who support public education in these fall ICPE meetings.

We will keep you updated on how the candidates respond. If you know the candidates, let them know you are eager to have them participate in these meetings.

Meanwhile, mark your calendars and make plans to attend one or more of the fall meetings.

Thanks for your advocacy for 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 ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand continues to represent ICPE during the interim study committee meetings in August and September. Our work in support of public education in the Statehouse goes on. 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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