Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #246 – February 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

Senate Bill 334, expanding private school vouchers to allow them to start in the spring semester, has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, February 16th at 8:30am in Statehouse Room 156-C.

I urge you to contact members of the House Education Committee or any House member to express your opposition to expanding private school vouchers in this way or in any way. If you can contact legislators via email or phone before Tuesday’s meeting, please do so.

Talking Points: Why SB 334 Should be Rewritten
  • Senator Yoder the sponsor said he introduced the bill after a private school called The Crossing came to him to get funding to help 189 drop out students they enrolled in the spring semester, but the language of the bill says nothing about drop outs.
  • The bill should be amended to focus on helping drop outs instead of allowing a huge increase in midyear general voucher transfers, estimated by the Legislative Services Agency to cost $2.1 million per year.
  • This LSA estimate makes SB 334 the biggest voucher expansion since Governor Pence’s 2013 voucher expansion which ended up costing taxpayers $40 million extra dollars, according to the annual financial report on Choice scholarships.
  • Senator Breaux tried to amend SB 334 on the Senate floor to focus on drop outs, but her amendment was voted down. The Senate amended the starting date to be July 1, 2017.
  • The current window for private school voucher applications is March 1 to September 1. SB 334 would establish a new enrollment window from September 2 to January 15. This extension would mean that the marketing and recruitment competition between private schools and public schools would go on for 10.5 months instead of the current 6 months.
  • Private schools have always had to have a marketing program to gain enrollment, but marketing and recruiting is new to public schools since Indiana was abruptly transformed into a school choice marketplace in 2011. Now just like private schools, if public schools don’t recruit students, they won’t survive. A superb public school with superb teachers must still be marketed well to parents or it may falter in the competition for enrollment. And now, SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.
  • Marketing and recruiting take money and staff time that public schools don’t have, but now they must find it. To compete, public schools have to take money from other important services to budget for marketing and recruiting. Currently, marketing is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments are in place, schools can pay full attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now Senator Yoder wants to extend the competitive marketing pressure all the way through January 15th, although he has not made this clear in his verbal rationale for the bill. All he has talked about is helping drop outs.
  • SB 334 also removes a provision in current law that says if a voucher student leaves the voucher school for which the student was awarded a Choice scholarship, the student is responsible for the payment of any tuition required for the remainder of the school year. Removing this provision is moving backward on accountability to the taxpayer. It would allow Choice voucher students who are expelled from their private school to get a spring semester voucher to go to another private school.
  • Legislators should say no to ever- increasing voucher expansion. The ISTEP crisis and the transition to tougher standards deserve the full attention of our General Assembly and our school personnel, and not another battle over voucher expansion.
  • We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers that will extend the advertising wars all year long that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.
Contact Your Legislators!

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz had it right this week when she called for a pause on school voucher expansion. She urged the General Assembly to set up a thorough study of the impact of the voucher program, a study that is clearly needed but has never been authorized in the five years since the voucher program was established.

Please contact members of the House Education Committee with your concerns about Senate Bill 334 and the expansion of vouchers into the spring semester:

Republicans on the committee include Representative Behning, chair; Representative Rhoads, vice-chair; and Representatives Braun, Burton, Cook, DeVon, Fine, Lucas and Thompson.

Democrats on the committee include Representative Vernon Smith, ranking member; and Representatives Austin, Errington and Moed.

Then contact your own member of the House or others about your opposition to expanding vouchers.

The participation of many voices from the ranks of public education advocates makes all the difference in the minds of legislators. Thanks for your support of 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 2016 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.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, February 9, 2016

NEIFPE: Who We Are


From time to time, people have asked us who we are and what we do. Recently, we received a letter asking us to answer the following questions about our organization. Here are the questions and our responses.

What is the goal/vision for the organization?

NEIFPE's mission statement outlines the goal of support for public education.

We are citizens, teachers, administrators, and parents united by our support for public education and by concerns for its future. Recent federal and state reform measures have created an over-emphasis on testing and have turned over public education to private interests. We believe that these reforms threaten the well-being of our children and jeopardize their futures. Our goal is to inform ourselves and to start community discussion about the impact of these measures on our public schools and, more importantly, on our children.

How is this organization working to improve education in Indiana?

NEIFPE advocates for a strong public school system that serves all children in the state. We believe education will be improved when education policy is back in the hands of educators rather than in the hands of politicians and their supporters. We believe that the tax dollars for public education should be distributed equitably to fund schools that are accountable to their communities. We believe that education is for ALL students, regardless of ability, race, and religion, and we believe public tax dollars should not be used for schools that exclude children. We also believe we should use our tax dollars towards the actual education of children rather than for testing and test preparation activities. We believe parents have always had a choice to send their children to public or private schools but taxpayer dollars should support public schools.

We advocate for a system that supports schools in addressing the needs of the students to prepare them for citizenship. We advocate for accountability that focuses on the progress students are making rather than one based upon high stakes testing, test preparation, and data collection. We advocate for developmentally appropriate instruction based upon research driven methods. We advocate for teachers who are knowledgeable in both content and pedagogy.

Is this organization a resource for teachers?

NEIFPE is a resource for information on local and national education policies, not an instructional resource. We try to help teachers make the connection between education policies and the effects of such policies on their classrooms and the teaching profession. Our mission is to inform and engage the general public so that they will understand the impact of current education policies on our communities, our neighborhoods, and our children. We would like the public to understand how their tax dollars are used in education. The resources we provide help others gain a better understanding of education policy, the political agenda in education, and how to defend our public school system. In addition to tracking current legislation, we provide research and evidence for people to use in advocacy efforts. We also provide information to our state legislators to help ensure they have a balanced perspective and understand how legislation will affect public schools, teachers, and students.

Our agenda is, quite simply, the support of public education.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Public Schools Work – Erin Kathleen Hodel


When I was in 3rd grade, I moved into Glenwood Park Elementary School and was in Sharon Orr's class. I hated everything­ – ­school, people, myself, my life. I had a rough few years. I experienced my first death (grandparent), my parents had divorced, and I had to move from a school and people I loved to a school where the only person I knew was my brother in 5th grade. Sharon saw through this angry little girl and got me involved in school, she worked with me to pull up my grades, and I left her classroom knowing 3 things.

1. She cared for me and wanted me to be at Glenwood.

2. I was a smart girl who would do great things.

3. I wanted to be a teacher who changed a child's life.

I was blessed to go through Fort Wayne Community Schools with many amazing teachers like Mr. Grotemat at Snider, Mrs. Waterfall at Blackhawk, and many many more. They all helped me become the teacher I am today.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #245 – February 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

Senate Bill 334 expanding vouchers to begin in the spring semester passed the Senate yesterday 40-9.

Efforts to narrow the bill’s language to match the sponsor’s verbal rationale of helping drop outs will now move to the House.

Rally for Public Education!

The Indiana Moral Mondays organization has invited all public school advocates to come to a rally at the Statehouse this Monday, Feb. 8, from 11am to Noon, in the Third Floor Atrium South.

One of the six planks in the platform of Indiana Moral Mondays is:

EDUCATION EQUALITY: Provide a well-funded quality public education for all.

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education will be represented among the rally speakers by our ICPE lobbyist and outstanding public education advocate Joel Hand.

ICPE attempted last fall to get space at the Statehouse for a rally, but we were told all spaces were already reserved for the session. Thanks to Indiana Moral Mondays, this is an opportunity to visit with your legislators and to stand up for public education!

Come to the Statehouse on Monday to celebrate, protect and defend our heritage of public education in Indiana.

Monday, February 8
11am – Noon
Indiana Statehouse Third Floor South Atrium

I hope to see you there!

Thanks for your support of 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 2016 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.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, February 3, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #244 – February 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

Senate Bill 334 is Senator Yoder’s bill to throw open the doors to allow voucher applications from September 2nd to January 15th for spring semester. He said the bill was to help drop outs in a voucher school called The Crossing, but the bill language says nothing about helping drop outs and makes a broad change that will allow voucher transfers across Indiana for the spring semester.

Monday on the Senate floor, Senator Breaux proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 334 to narrow its focus to help high school students “in need of alternative emergency educational opportunities.” This was the stated purpose given by Senator Yoder when he presented the bill.

The amendment to narrow the bill to the stated purpose failed. The Senate rejected Senator Breaux’s amendment on a voice vote.

Senate Bill 334 now stands as the biggest expansion of private school vouchers since the 2013 expansion.


The Final Third Reading Vote on Senate Bill 334 is Scheduled for Today, February 3rd

If you think vouchers should not be expanded in this broad manner to allow any student to transfer with a voucher in the spring semester, it is time to take immediate action.

Urge your Senator to vote no on SB 334 until it is rewritten to help drop outs in line with the testimony given on the bill.
This bill would expand the season for competition and recruitment from 6 months to 10 months.

If you think that the season for marketing, recruitment and competition for school choice should not be expanded to September 2nd through January 15th, take quick action. SB 334 is on the list for a vote in the session that began at 10:30 this morning.

Thanks for speaking up on this issue! Thanks for your support of 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 2016 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.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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Monday, February 1, 2016

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #243 – January 31, 2016

Dear Friends,

At Thursday’s meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee (Jan. 28th), Senate Bill 334 making private school vouchers available to begin in the spring semester for the first time, was amended to begin a year later, July 1, 2017. The bill then passed 11-2.

The amendment to move back the start date for a year removed the estimated fiscal cost of $2.1 million from the current year and put the multimillion dollars cost in the next budget cycle after the 2017 budget session.

As in the Senate Education hearing, the purpose of the bill stated by the Senator Yoder the sponsor and all testimony for the bill focused on helping one school get spring semester tuition for drop out recovery services.

The real question here is: If the purpose is drop out recovery, why should the doors be swung open to allow all private voucher schools to recruit students to begin in the spring semester? Is it good public policy to extend the competition for students for four more months, making school recruiting nearly a year-round activity?

I say no.

Senator Stoops stated in discussion with Senator Yoder that he would support a second reading amendment to narrow the language to fit the stated purpose of the bill, namely to allow spring semester help for drop outs in schools providing drop out services.

I urge you to contact your Senator or all Senators to support the concept expressed by Senator Stoops to narrow the language of the bill to help drop outs. We don’t need a sweeping expansion of spring semester vouchers unleashing the advertising wars all year that are currently confined to the summer recruiting period.


Senate Bill 334 – Extending the Marketing and Recruiting Season from 6 Months to 10.5 Months

Senator Yoder presented this bill as a method of helping a private school called The Crossing get voucher money to support students during the spring semester who have been expelled or dropped out during the first semester. He said The Crossing had 189 such students that needed tuition help last year for drop out recovery services.

The language of the bill, however, goes far beyond funding for drop outs to attend a private school. In fact, there is no reference in the bill to providing help for drop outs or expelled students.

Under current law, vouchers are available from March 1 to September 1 for the upcoming school year. SB 334 would add a second window of applications from September 2 to January 15 to allow spring semester enrollments.

Under the so-called “reforms” of the past five year creating Indiana’s marketplace of school choice, marketing and recruitment are the fundamental pillars of successful schools. The sophistication of marketing is growing. A school might be a superb school with superb teachers, but if it is not marketed well to parents, it may falter in the competition for enrollment that is now the ultimate measure of school success. And now, SB 334 proposes to extend the intense competition by four and a half months.

Community public schools in the past have not been staffed for this marketing competition. Marketing budgets and marketing staff members have now become a necessary part of the public school arena just to stay competitive and to survive, even though public schools are criticized regularly by the legislative creators of this marketplace because public schools are supposed to devote all of their “dollars to the classroom”, and marketing dollars are not on the official list of expenditures that are considered “dollars to the classroom.”

Nevertheless, marketing is a must for all schools now. Currently it is largely confined to spring and summer months. Once fall enrollments begin, schools can pay attention to instruction while marketing and recruitment take a back seat. Now Senator Yoder wants to up the marketing pressure to extend the competitive time period all the way through January 15th. He has not made this clear as he presents the bill. All he wants to talk about is helping drop outs.

Helping drop outs is a worthy goal and could be done without bill language that creates the biggest expansion of vouchers since the enormous 2013 expansion which drove the voucher program from a net money saver for the state to an outright additional expense of $40 million.

“Enough!”

The trend of ever-increasing voucher programs in Indiana is clear. Public education advocates should say “Enough!” to voucher expansion. The crisis of assessment and the transition to tougher standards deserves the full attention of our General Assembly, and not another battle over voucher expansion.

A second reading amendment to narrow this bill to assist drop outs in the spring semester would be an excellent move. I urge public school advocates to contact Senators on this point. The Senate will vote on amendments to Senate Bill 334 as early tomorrow, Monday afternoon (Feb. 1st). The final third reading vote on Senate Bill 334 could come on Tuesday or Wednesday.

See the testimony provided by ICPE lobbyist Joel Hand to the Senate Appropriations Committee for additional information on SB 334.

Thanks for speaking up on this issue! Thanks for your support of 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 2016 short session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.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, January 31, 2016

Public Schools Work – Adrienne Rogers


My two older kids were home from college for their Christmas break when we found ourselves back at their high school for a basketball game. Across the crowded gym, they both noticed a man walk in to sit on the other team's side. They immediately recognized him as the much-loved teacher they both had as seniors for Calculus. We had heard that this particular teacher had left the classroom the year before to pursue a promotion in administration, so we were curious as to why he was there rooting for the opposing team. When the game was over, my kids set off to greet Mr. Croft. We found out that he had given the promotion a few weeks, but just couldn't stand being away from the classroom and the kids, so he switched gears and went right back to teaching, which is what brought him to the game, cheering for his new school while revisiting his old school.

In the course of the conversation, my son mentioned that he is enrolled next semester in a difficult Calculus II course and voiced his apprehension at being rusty on his Calc skills. Mr. Croft didn't miss a beat as he offered to meet him a couple days later and give him a copy of his old Calc textbook to review. He then urged my son to set up a second meeting with him, and to come with a list of topics that he needed retaught in order to feel confident going into the next level of Calculus.

This level of caring and commitment to his students was simply second nature to Mr. Croft. It is obvious that this man is dedicated to each and every child he meets, even long after his responsibility for their growth and learning is over. If he isn't an example of a teacher who makes a difference in lives, I don't know who is!

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