I am thrilled to be the new president of the bipartisan Indiana Coalition for Public Education, joining so many amazing public education advocates who have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Staying true to our bipartisan message, our board is comprised of both Republicans and Democrats, including former state superintendents, Suellen Reed and Glenda Ritz. Parents, grandparents, retired educators, community members–we are the convening voice of public education advocacy in Indiana.

Our vision at the Indiana Coalition for Public Education is to advocate for high quality, equitable, well-funded public schools for all Indiana children – and we need your help. We must band together to fight the attacks on our public schools, which educate nearly 90% of our Hoosier children. In cities, towns and rural areas across our state, public schools are the heart of our community.

Last November, tens of thousands of teachers, parents, students, and community members stood outside the statehouse wearing #RedforEd. This was not just about pay for our teachers. The teacher shortage and the shortage of funds to pay teachers is but a symptom of a greater problem—the attack on public education as a whole.

It is time for us to redefine the term “public education.” Public schools are public because they belong to all of us. Public schools accept all children—that is their mission. Unlike charter schools or “innovation” schools, public schools are publicly run. They are accountable to a school board which is democratically elected and representative of the community. They are accountable to their communities by the transparency of decisions made in public and the reporting of budgets and audits open to the public. Public schools are the foundation of our democracy—to support it is their purpose.

For nearly a decade we have seen bill after bill at the statehouse resulting in not just the loss of funding for public schools, but the loss of local control as well. Charters and “innovation” schools are publicly funded, yes, but they are privately run. They can decide who can get in and who cannot by capping their numbers, drawing boundaries, using a lottery, and just by the indirect nature of taking children whose families must find transportation, fill out applications, etc. Nearly all voucher schools are religious, private schools that can openly discriminate against Hoosier children and their families. Indiana taxpayers have spent over $800 million on vouchers since their inception in 2011—without any transparency of budgets required by law. Citizens don’t know how many millions have gone into private hands (and pockets) to run charter schools.

Funding and regulating (for which there is little will) these separate systems of education is creating deep inequities and disruption in the lives of our children who need stability the most. We can be better than this. We must be. Public education is not about individual choices—choices that many children do not have. It is about a collective responsibility. It is our public good.

ICPE is volunteer run and we rely on the passion, efforts, and support of our membership to help us do our work. Please join us as we fight for our children’s future and the future of our democracy.


Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, ICPE Board President.

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, ICPE Board President

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