Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #206 – March 3, 2015

Dear Friends,

The 2015 budget was passed by the House on February 24th calling for a 2.3% increase each year in K-12 tuition support. Governor Pence called the funding increase for public schools “dramatic.”

Careful review shows that the increase can be called dramatic only in comparison to Governor Pence’s own paltry public school funding proposal. By historical standards, a 2.3% increase for public school funding is still very low.

By the standards of previous General Assemblies, current legislators continue to give a low priority to public school funding.


Details of the Budget for Public Schools: Then and Now

The House budget raised the tuition support budget by 2.3% in the first year and by another 2.3% in the second year. In dollar terms, the first year is up by $156 million and the second year by $157 million.

Adding the two years together means that total new money increased by $469 million. This is reached by adding $156 million in the first year to $156 million to extend the first year increase in the second year. Then to lift the second year by 2.3%, add on $157 million. ($156 M + $156 M + $157 M = $469 M)

Some legislators like to add all this up for two years and call it a 4.6% increase over two years. It is time to use all that math you were required to take in school to keep all this straight.

Governor Pence considered this a “dramatic” increase because his budget only endorsed a 2.0% increase in the first year and a 1.0% increase in the second year. In dollar terms his increase was $134 million in the first year plus $134 million in the second year and $67 million in the second year to lift the total by 1%. That makes a total of $335 million in new money. ($134 M + $134 M + $67 M = $335 M)

The House is funding K-12 tuition support at a level $134 million more than the Governor recommended. ($469 M - $335 M = $134 M)

“Dramatic” in the view of Governor Pence.

But not by past standards of support for public education in Indiana.

Comparisons with Past Budgets since the 1999 Indiana Accountability Law

A 2.3% increase in school funding may sound extravagant to Governor Pence, but 2.3% is very low by historical standards. Here is the sequence of school funding increases prior to the Great Recession.

This is the budget history for Indiana for education since the bipartisan school accountability reforms were passed in 1999. These are not numbers or percentages that I calculated. I copied them right off the school funding formula summary page for each budget made available to the public each session:
_________________________________________________________________________________

TUITION SUPPORT FUNDING INCREASES IN INDIANA BUDGETS SINCE 1999
(Source: Legislative Service Agency School Funding Formula Documents)

1999 BUDGET:
FY 2000 +4.7%
FY 2001 +4.7%

2001 BUDGET:
FY 2002 +3.5%
FY 2003 +3.5%
2003 BUDGET:
FY 2004 +3.3%
FY 2005 ($5.87 Billion) +2.9%
2005 BUDGET:
FY 2006 ($5.94 Billion) +2.6%
FY 2007 ($6.02 Billion) +2.4%
2007 BUDGET:
FY 2008 ($6.27 Billion) +4.1%
FY 2009 ($6.48 Billion *) +3.6%
2009 BUDGET: (June 2009 during the Great Recession)
FY 2010 ($6.55 Billion **) +1.1%
FY 2011 ($6.57 Billion **) +0.3%
2011 BUDGET: (April 2011 during the Great Recession)
FY 2012 ($6.28 Billion) -4.5%
FY 2013 ($6.34 Billion ***) +1.0%
2013 BUDGET:
FY 2014 ($6.62 Billion) +2.0%
FY 2015 ($6.69 Billion) +1.0%
Footnotes:
*included Federal stimulus/stabilization funding of $.61 Billion
**reduced by $.30 Billion in Dec. 2009 due to revenue shortfall and by $.327 Billion during 2010-11
***adding the full day kindergarten line item to the formula during the 2013 General Assembly raised the actual FY2013 base expenditures to $6.49B.


It is readily seen with a quick glance at this history that prior to the Great Recession (2009) and passage of the historic voucher bill (2011), there was no year was as low as 2.3%. Even during more difficult economic times when there was no $2 billion surplus, like 2003, public school funding was given a higher priority and a bigger increase than the 2.3% increase in the current House budget.

In these times with a large surplus, why can’t our legislative leaders invest in public education in the same way the General Assembly did in the first ten years of Indiana’s accountability law era?

Categorical Line Item Funding

Besides the tuition support funding for public schools, every budget details categorical funding for specific programs like summer school and textbooks for free and reduced lunch students. I have attached a summary of several categorical line items, showing whether they went up, went down or stayed the same.

After you review the attached list, ponder with me the following questions along with other questions that may leap out to you in this list:
  • Why does the new fund for Turnaround Support staff for the State Board deserve $5.0 million when the Senator Ford Technology Fund for important technology improvements gets only $3.09 million?
  • After all the legislation about effective and highly effective teachers, why hasn’t a budget for Professional Development for Indiana teachers been restored?
  • Why has the budget for the Indiana Charter School Board been lifted from $500,000 to $850,000?
  • Why have mandated programs for English Language Learners been funded at only $5.25 million when the cost for ESL teachers across Indiana far exceeds that amount?
  • Why have free textbooks for low income students been funded at $39 million when the need is closer to $100 million?
  • How can districts serving large numbers of free lunch students and ESL students make up the shortfalls for textbooks and ESL programs when their complexity funding is also being cut in this budget?
Categorical funding line items deserve more attention than they generally get. I urge you to contact legislators about any one of these items that concerns you, as well as about the need to lift the 2.3% for tuition support.

What Will the Senators Do?

The budget is now in the hands of the Senate. Senators are already working on their budget plan including the plan for funding public schools. Every knowledgeable observer I have talked to expects the Senate to come in with a funding level less than the 2.3% proposed by the House.

Here’s where you come in. Public schools need more, not less, than 2.3%! The minimum increase in the decade prior to the Great Recession was 2.4%, as you can see in the table above. The historic average of this funding table (deleting the two budgets of the Great Recession) years is a 3.19% annual increase in school funding.

Raising the increase to 2.4% this year would cost the an extra $15 million in the budget over two years, money that could help mitigate the damage done to low income districts when funding for complexity students was reduced in the House budget.

As grassroots constituents in support of public education, contact your Senator or all Senators to ask them to raise the level to 2.4% or higher, which would at least match the low point of support in Indiana’s commitment to public schools in Indiana during the decade after the accountability law was passed.

Or will they tell you the historic commitment to public schools in Indiana is gone? Has it been killed by the voucher program and the marketplace of school choice?

I urge you to contact Senators about these crucial funding questions about tuition support and about categorical line items.

We need your participation. Thanks for your advocacy for strong funding 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 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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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Random Thoughts on "Freedom to Teach"

by Phyllis Bush

Gov. Pence’s "Freedom to Teach" bill aims to pay effective and highly effective teachers more in exchange for forfeiting their due process rights. This would be done by increasing class sizes to allow school districts to have fewer teachers on their payroll. It is assumed outside management companies would be hired to administer the program.

The apparent plan of Pence and his brain trust is to bring in more TFAs and rookies so there will be a younger, less experienced, LESS EXPENSIVE, and more trainable work force who ostensibly won't question because that will be the only system that they know. They obviously must have forgotten that this cheaper, faster, better model didn't seem to work out so well for NASA.

Their mantra is whatever is good for business is good for the rest of us. What that really means is whatever is good for business is good for BUSINESS. The greed and lack of foresight are astounding and frightening. This chaos theory of creative destruction simply amounts to disrespect and lack of compassion for the helping professions. Perhaps the reason for this is because people who have chosen to teach or to work with those who are in need are too busy doing their jobs to fight back in an accountability competition which they did not choose and which has little to do with the professions that they (used to) love.

In the words of Tyler Durden,
The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, we stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that our luck will change.
One might ask if I have any solutions, and the answer is that clearly I do not. Those of us in NEIFPE have done everything that "good citizens" are supposed to do. We have written emails, letters, and op-eds. We have met and talked with legislators and presented them with research. We have testified at State Board hearings, and to what end? The reform agenda is set in stone, and while the people in power may pretend to listen and to pacify us with their talking points, nothing changes.

Can we continue to trust that our luck will change? From my vantage point, the only solution will be when the 1.3 million voters who voted for change in 2012 will re-channel that positive energy and that passion and get out of their comfort zones and begin to take our government back.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #205 – February 22, 2015

Dear Friends,

On Thursday (February 19th), the Senate Appropriations Committee modified Senate Bill 470, a damaging bill that would have allowed voucher schools to ignore ISTEP and instructed the State Board set up an alternative school letter grade system just for private voucher schools based on a test of their choice. This bill which obviously favored voucher schools over public schools was amended Thursday.

The amendment approved turned the whole bill into a summer study committee proposal that would study “issues related to the development by the state board of education of acceptable tests from which all schools may select a test that meets the requirements of IC 20-32,” which is the article in Indiana law on student assessments.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee should be thanked for their actions to amend the bill, which in its original form would have reduced accountability for voucher schools without equal treatment for public schools.

Senate Bill 470

The news that Senate Bill 470 passed in the February 11th Senate Education Committee on a party line vote surprised and angered public school advocates. The bill when passed by the committee clearly favored private voucher schools, giving them an opportunity to use an alternative “norm-referenced” test in place of ISTEP and not giving the same opportunity to public schools. Then the bill went further to empower the State Board to establish a school letter grade only for private voucher schools based on the alternative assessment allowed for voucher schools.

The bill had passed the Senate Education Committee 7 to 3. All Republicans had voted yes; all Democrats had voted no.

By the time SB 470 got to the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on February 19th, the last meeting of the committee for the first part of the session, the majority clearly saw the need to back up and give this concept further study. Amendment 4 written by Senator Kenley to study assessments this summer was offered by Senator Schneider, the bill’s sponsor, in his presentation of the bill before the committee. The amendment was accepted by consent. The amended bill to study assessments this summer passed 10-3.

Private school voucher advocates testified on February 11th that they don’t like the way Indiana standards and ISTEP assessments control the curriculum and instruction in their private schools. Public school parents and educators have complained about the same problem in public schools.

Private schools have an option that public schools don’t have. If they simply decline the public tax money and withdraw from the voucher program, then they are free to use any assessment whatsoever to measure student achievement. Instead, they want to change the terms of accountability that they signed on to in the 2011 voucher legislation by changing to an optional test, but they still want to keep the voucher money. This backward step on accountability should be a non-starter.

One would think that Governor Pence would see the crucial nature of accountability for private schools in the state’s voucher program and resist their overture to opt out of ISTEP. The Governor, however, didn’t do that. Instead, he strongly endorsed the original version of Senate Bill 470, instructing his representative to support the bill and to say private voucher schools should be able “choose their own test.”

Once again Governor Pence has confirmed that he favors private schools over public schools. He has apparently not realized that in the marketplace of school choice that he helped to create in Indiana, all schools whether public or private receiving public tax dollars must be treated equally and fairly.

The language of the amendment to have a summer study on “acceptable tests from which all schools may select a test” that meets state requirements fits well with Senate Bill 566 sponsored by Senator Mishler and Senator Kenley which contemplates a new kind of assessment system. Senate Bill 566 is still moving in the Senate.

Committee meetings have now ended for the first part of the session. All bills must pass a third reading floor vote by Wednesday, February 25th.

Thanks to all who contacted legislators about making changes to the original version of Senate 470. You have been heard.
Thanks for your advocacy for strong 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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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Letters: Budget plan victimizes public schools, students

NEIFPE member Susie Berry wrote this letter about the school budget.

Letter to the editor: Education 'reform' is hurting our children

February 18, 2015 1:01 AM

Budget plan victimizes public schools, students

Voucher and charter schools have received more money from the state each school year since 2011. No wonder there was a School Choice Week celebration Jan. 27. The bad news is that as the private schools celebrate, the public schools must scramble to find money to transport their students to school. Gov. Mike Pence claims to be the “education governor,” but the increases he has proposed affect the private and charter schools very positively while – once again – the public schools are barely getting any increases.

The percentage increases – if Pence’s budget is approved – for “choice” schools (that includes charter schools and private schools accepting voucher money) is 13.1 percent, while the traditional public schools would see an increase of only 2.4 percent, which is really only 1.2 percent per year. Giving families a “choice” sounds great, but the traditional public schools and their students are the victims in this scenario.

SUSAN BERRY

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #204 – February 18, 2015

Dear Friends,

The Senate voted yesterday on Senate Bill 1 to remove the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. The bill passed 33 to 17. It now goes to the House, which passed a different version on the same subject in House Bill 1609.

After all the efforts to convince Senators that voters picked the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board and only voters in the next election should have the power to select a different chair, the bill passed with the opposition of 7 Republicans and all 10 Democrats.

Regarding House Bill 1639, subject of the previous “Notes #203”, which proposed giving the State Board an independent computer system to handle student records, Chairman Behning said at Tuesday’s meeting that he got the bill from an out-of-state source from a state where the State Board was the entity already handling data, and he didn’t intend to give the State Board a new set of powers. He said he would bring an amendment to put the Indiana Department of Education in charge of the parent testing information his bill envisions. He held House Bill 1639 without a vote. It is now scheduled for a vote tomorrow, Thursday, February 19th, at the final House Education Committee of the initial portion of the General Assembly.

Chairman Behning has not often acknowledged publicly that his bills come from out-of-state sources, but on Tuesday in front of all present, that is what he said.


Senate Bill 1

Over a thousand people came to Monday’s Statehouse rally to try to convince legislators that now is not the time to remove the elected State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. That change should be made by voters, if that is their will, in the 2016 election. Action by the House and the Senate on this topic usurps the power of the voters to direct policies by electing officials who can hold the powers given to them by the electorate until end of the term.

The General Assembly, in favoring Governor Pence in his fundamental policy debate with Superintendent Ritz over whether public support of private schools will dominate the future, has proceeded at the Governor’s request to approve bills removing the State Superintendent as chair of State Board, a power of office that the State Superintendent has had since 1913. This move is part of the deconstruction of public education in Indiana, a cornerstone of our democracy and our economy which so many have done so much to advance over the past 150 years. Jettisoning strong support for public education seems to be on Governor Pence’s list for ways to mark Indiana’s 200th birthday.

This episode marks a deep tectonic shift in the powers of the voter and the relationship of elections to the exercise of power. From this point on, will any elected official be able to carry out powers of the office as they stood at the time the voters elected the official? Or will those elected officials be “Ritzed” to the point of losing legal powers they had when elected even before the next election? Will there now be a move to eliminate other officials elected independently by the voters? Will more and more power be concentrated in the office of the Governor? Will education policy now become the dominant issue in the election campaign for the office of Governor since trying to change education policy by electing a new State Superintendent has been shown to be a path with no power?

Seventeen Senators heard the call to leave any changes in the State Board chair to the voters in the next election. They are Republican Senators Alting, Becker, Delph, Glick, Head, Leising, and Tomes and Democrat Senators Arnold, Breaux, Broden, Lanane, Mrvan, Randolph, Rogers, Stoops, Tallian and Taylor.

These seventeen should all be thanked for standing up to the Governor and the leadership of the Senate in this dispute whereby the power of voters in Indiana has been diminished. It remains to be seen in 2016 whether the voters will remember this reduction in the power of voters when votes are cast for members of the House and Senate.

Advocates for public education need long memories to recall who supports public education on key votes and who doesn’t.

Senate Bill 1 changes the State Board membership from 11 to 9 and cuts the Governor’s appointments to four instead of the current ten. Two would be appointed by the House Speaker and two by the President Pro Tem of the Senate. The State Superintendent would be the ninth member.

These are the key differences between Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1609 which made no changes in the number of members or the powers of appointment. The Governor would no doubt want the House bill to prevail to keep his current powers intact. The Senate may have other ideas. Stay tuned.

Thank you for your advocacy for wise policies, for the power of voters in our republic, and for strong 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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If Not Us, Then Who?

Phyllis Bush spoke at the Rally for Ritz in the Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 16, 2015.

If Not Us, Then Who?
How many of you have found yourself repeating this famous phrase from the movie Network?

I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take this any more.

If I were to print out all of the emails and letters that I have written and all of the robo-replies I have received, I am sure that I could paper a path between the State House and Fort Wayne.

While the politicians and reformers have framed the narrative that it is all about Glenda Ritz—who is, after all, just a librarian, this is much, much larger than that.

Why are these people so threatened by one woman that they are pulling out all of the stops to marginalize her and to eviscerate her authority?

What, may we ask, is this really about?

Is this about further crushing teachers’ unions and getting rid of career teachers, or is this simply a way of setting up public education for failure so that there is a good excuse for turning public schools into private or charter money making machines?

Are you sick and tired of all of this? Well, I am!

I am sick and tired of being marginalized and disenfranchised. When they disrespect Superintendent Ritz , they disrespect us!

I am sick and tired of trying to find common ground with people who continue to obstruct and ignore.
I am sick and tired of non-educators deciding education policy and of education committees being chaired by a florist and an auctioneer.
I am sick and tired of seeing what all of these wrong-headed policies are doing to our kids, to our grandkids, to our teachers, and to our communities.

I am sick and tired of the harm being wrought upon the children of Indiana by the House, by the Senate, and by our governor.

Let’s take a look at the more odious bills being considered now:
  • SB1 –removing Ritz as chair of the SBOE
  • SB500- more deregulation
  • HB1009 -Freedom to Teach is aTrojan horse without oversight
  • SB470 – lets choice schools replace ISTEP with an assessment of their own choice—like choosing your own adventure.
Why should school choice parents have choices while public school parents have none?

In both houses of the General Assembly there are multiple bills whose apparent intent is to destroy public education.

There are bills which strip Glenda Ritz of her elected authority, bills which continue to perpetuate the myth of failing schools by assigning grades, bills which attach a teacher's evaluation and pay to student test scores, bills which expand vouchers and charter schools and make the playing field more unlevel.

How many of you are tired of this?

Are you mad as hell?

We are witnessing the dismantling and privatization of public education.

We are witnessing the dismantling of democracy. 

Will you stand by and watch this runaway train, or will you speak out and do something?

In the words of civil rights leader, Rep.John Lewis:
If not us, then who? If not now, then when?



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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #203 – February 16, 2015

Dear Friends,

Thanks to all who made today’s Statehouse rally a rousing success! It was a great afternoon!

There is, however, no let up in the Statehouse battles over public education. The entire Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on Senate Bill 1, removing the State Superintendent as chair of the State Board. Let your voice be heard!

That’s not all; the salvos keep coming. A new bill deserves your immediate attention and action tonight to contact members of the House Education Committee:

House Bill 1639, scheduled for a hearing tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 17th) at 8:30am, would put control of a new system to expand access to student records in the hands of the State Board, not the Indiana Department of Education. For the first time, it would make the State Board an administrative agency, handling student data functions that have always been controlled by the Indiana Department of Education. The expanded data access through this data warehouse will cost $4.1 million as projected by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, requiring an independent computer staff for the State Board with a new stand alone computer system. The duplication of services is obvious.

The $4.1 million price tag is more than the current entire annual budget for the State Board of $3 million and of course far more than the annual budget for professional development, which stands at zero.

This is a major salvo in the battle to move functions out of the Indiana Department of Education under the control of State Superintendent Ritz and into the domain of the State Board controlled by Governor Pence.

The bill would also have the State Board prepare and require student and parent surveys to evaluate certificated staff at an estimated cost of up to $4.8 million per year.

Rep. Behning has scheduled House Bill 1639 for a hearing on Tuesday Feb. 17th at 8:30am in the House Education Committee in Room 156-C. It is also listed in the agenda for Wed., Feb. 18th at 8:30am in the same room.

Before that time, I hope all who believe that student data is too sensitive and too important to become a political football in the Governor’s power grab will contact members of the House Education Committee with a simple message: Delete the sections of HB 1639 giving the State Board a data warehouse and requiring student surveys of staff.

Expanded Access

The bill purports to improve parent access to student data and to help transfer data among schools. If that is truly a bigger priority problem in a state that has no money for teacher professional development, lawmakers could give the $4.1 million for computer work required by this bill to the Indiana Department of Education, the current trustee of student records.

This bill doesn’t do that. It gives the authority and the resources to the State Board, a policy making board that now for the first time would become an administrative agency with complete control over student records. This would be a monumental shift in authority and makes the bill a power grab to boost the control of the State Board over the IDOE.

This bill as well as House Bill 1486 would be the first efforts to have the Indiana General Assembly assign an administrative function to the State Board. The State Board is authorized by law as a policy board. It is hard to believe that the General Assembly really wants to make the State Board an administrative agency as well, setting up total confusion about the administrative roles of IDOE in relation to the State Board.

The Risk of HB1639

In this proposed bill, Rep. Behning and the Governor are playing with fire. If the parents and teachers of Indiana’s students come to believe for one minute that student test data are being used as a wedge in a political dispute between Governor Pence and State Superintendent Ritz, the trust built up over two decades that student data is being handled impartially and appropriately could vanish overnight. If parents sense that the data of their students are being used for political purposes, they may well demand that any test results be given only to them and for use by their local school, and not for state use. Such a step would collapse the entire accountability movement that this General Assembly has slowly built since the A+ program of 1987.

There must be no hint of political maneuvering related to student test data. This part of the bill has politics written all over it and must be turned down or withdrawn.

There is no reason to involve any agency other than the Indiana Department of Education in student records. IDOE’s work in handling student data has been accurate and above reproach. Any claim to the contrary has been made for political purposes to support a takeover of data by the State Board, to further undermine the authority of Superintendent Ritz. This bill puts at risk the faith and trust of parents in state authorities that has taken years to establish.

The Development of Parent Trust in State Records

I am old enough to remember well a time when Indiana did not have a state test. When I began my career in Indiana in the 1960’s, all testing was local testing, and local parents and teachers could assess the progress of their students. There was great mistrust in that era that state test results kept in the Statehouse might be used inappropriately by people that did not have local ties and might not have the best interests of the students in mind. It took years of patient reassurance that the privacy and sanctity of state test scores would be maintained. State tests were introduced in the mid-1980’s and student ID numbers allowing the state to track individual students by number were introduced around 2002, based on the availability of high speed computers. Approval of that step required tremendous trust on the part of parents. This bill could put that trust in jeopardy overnight.

Why does anyone other than IDOE need to supervise student data? They don’t. I have observed over many years that the Indiana Department of Education takes very seriously the trust that is placed in them to maintain the accuracy and the privacy of student data.

Please contact members of the House Education Committee and other House members as soon as possible. Of course, if you read this after tomorrow’s hearing, it would still help if they know of your opposition to HB 1639 in the days ahead.

Student data must not be made part of a political tug-of-war, but this bill does that. HB 1639 is unwise public policy in two areas: giving the State Board control of an expensive data warehouse and requiring student surveys to evaluate staff at a projected cost of up to $4.8 million. Let legislators know how you feel.

Thank you for your advocacy for wise policies and strong 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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