Dear Friends,

Heads up! Public education is under the most serious attack ever seen in Indiana. Will you help defend it as you have for the last decade?

Taking advantage of the pandemic and reduced citizen access to the Statehouse, private education advocates in the House of Representatives are pushing to divert hundreds of millions in public funds to private and home schools and to establish in Indiana a radical new program called Education Savings Accounts that undermines the very concept of community public schools.

Taking advantage of the pandemic and reduced citizen access to the Statehouse, private education advocates in the House of Representatives are pushing to divert hundreds of millions in public funds to private and home schools and to establish in Indiana a radical new program called Education Savings Accounts that undermines the very concept of community public schools.

House Bill 1005 would expand private school vouchers and, for the first time, give significant tax dollars to unsupervised home schools. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says the bill would cost $202 million dollars over two years:

  • Expanding vouchers to give more money to higher income private school parents (Choice Scholarships) would cost $65 million over two years, according to LSA.
  • Education Savings Accounts to fund home schools would cost $137 million over two years according to LSA, which includes at least $6 million to create an online portal which would distribute the money directly to parents through the State Treasurer, of all things, without the involvement or supervision of any education official. This concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools and simply distribute money to parents. It should be totally rejected by the General Assembly.

Making this $202 million bill a supermajority priority makes a mockery of all claims that there is no money to improve teacher pay.

Voucher Costs Come Out the K-12 Tuition Support Budget

Governor Holcomb just proposed a budget increase of $377 million for K-12 tuition support. His budget lifts K-12 funding by 2% in the first year and by 1% in the second year of the two year budget.

He should, however, have signaled that public schools may get less than 2% and 1%. In his State of the State address, he said parents “deserve to have options.” Choice Scholarships (vouchers) are paid from the same K-12 tuition budget as are public and charter schools. House Bill 1005 would reduce the Governor’s plan by $65 million, according to the LSA fiscal estimate for expanded vouchers, diverting $34 million in the first year of the budget and $31 million in the second year to private schools and away from public schools that badly need the money.

That would actually leave an increase of $116 million for Indiana public schools in the first year, instead of the $150 million in the Governor’s plan, an increase of 1.5%, not 2%. The Governor’s increase in the second year, announced as $77 million or 1%, would turn out to be $46 million, after $31 million (40% of the proposed increase) is diverted to Choice Scholarships, according to the LSA estimate of voucher expansion costs. That results in a percentage increase of 0.6%.

Governor Holcomb included a line in his State of the State saying, “at the same time, those options shouldn’t come at the expense of the public school system, which educates 90% of Hoosier children.” If he is serious about this statement, he will oppose House Bill 1005, because

  1. the voucher expansion section of the bill undermines the funding available to public schools by $65 million and
  2. the Education Savings Account section of the bill incentivizes parents to abandon the public schools and undermines the central purpose of public education to teach every student about democracy and the US Constitution. This section funds unsupervised home schools, following the blueprint of Milton Friedman to end public education.

In the table at the end of these notes, the Governor’s proposed budget can be compared with the previous seven K-12 budgets.

HB 1005 Topic 1: Expanding Choice Scholarships

House Bill 1005 is a statement by the Republican leadership that giving more money to private school parents for tuition to private schools is a higher priority than raising teacher pay.

Currently, according to the latest income figures from IDOE for 2020-21:
· families of four earning $48,000 or less get a 90% voucher.
· families of four earning $48,000 to $60,000 get a 70% voucher.
· families of four earning $60,000 to $96,000 get a 50% voucher.

House Bill 1005 would wipe out the income tiers and raise the income eligibility, giving all families of four earning up to $109,000 a 90% voucher in 2021-22. Then in 2022-2023 this level would rise to give families of four earning up to $145,000 a 90% voucher. This would give millions to families who are already attending private schools.

Again, the Legislative Services Agency says this generous government handout to higher income families would cost $34 million during 2021-22 and $31 million during 2022-23, for a total of $65 million taken from the K-12 tuition support budget.

HB 1005 Topic 2: Education Savings Accounts Go Directly from the Treasury to Home School Parents

The concept of an Education Savings Account is a radical idea. It was defeated once before in 2017 when Senate Bill 534 died in committee after superb opposition testimony from special education parents who saw how this maneuver would decrease funding for the quality special education programs that were so crucial in helping their children.

It has been resurrected under the guise of giving some parents options during the pandemic, but it plants the seeds for the disintegration and resegregation of community public schools. It is a plan proposed by Milton Friedman who wanted to end public schools and distribute education money to parents in the manner proposed by HB 1005, which makes special education and 504 students, children of active duty members of the military, children of disabled veterans and foster children eligible for grants estimated by LSA to cost $131 million dollars if they sign away their spot in an Indiana school.

ESA’s should not be confused with Choice Scholarship vouchers where at least we know your tax dollars are sent to a school that has some level of accountability to the state of Indiana. ESA’s are sent to parents directly from the Indiana Treasurer with no supervision. In fact, HB 1005 includes language that guarantees no curriculum supervision by the state.

In the midst of threats to our democracy and calls for racial justice, I would first ask two questions of anyone who thinks ESA’s are a good idea:

  • How will taxpayers know whether they are funding a home school that teaches extremism supporting the overthrow of the US Constitution?
  • How will taxpayers know whether they are funding a home school that teaches racism?

House Bill 1005 provides no protections to taxpayers on these questions.

There is no accountability for the home schools receiving public funds through Education Savings Accounts. The only ILEARN testing might come if parents use their accounts to pay tuition at a private school that is giving ILEARN, but parents can spend their accounts completely on tutors with no required accountability. That is wrong.

Why would Education Savings Accounts be so detrimental to education in Indiana?

  1. ESA’s would give public money on a debit card to parents who sign an agreement to educate their child in “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” That’s all! The bill actually says “or” in this list, so studying just one subject would fulfill a parent’s obligation. It’s an unregulated and narrow education. No art, no music, no health, no vocational subjects. This would absolutely lower standards for students just as standards for public school students have been raised.
  2. The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or public accountability of student achievement. This is in total contrast to testing and accountability in Indiana law.
  3. The bill would give public money to high income parents of special education and 504 students, children of active duty military and disabled veterans, and foster children. HB 1005 would remove all income limits for receiving money from these accounts.
  4. The bill would give the entire amount of public money for eligible students directly to parents, paving the way in a few years for the real goal to give the entire amount of public money to parents of all students on a debit card. These bills to privatize schooling would immediately divert money away from our public school students and over time would undermine funding for all students in both public schools and private voucher schools. This bill undermines the very concept of schools.
  5. The bill would allow parents to home school their child with public money, paying for an approved provider, for a tutor and for textbooks. Public school parents would surely like to have the state pay for their textbooks as well, but public school parents must pay their own textbook rental.
  6. The bill would give public money to parents with very weak provisions for fraud protection. Parents with past records of crime or neglect or abuse are not excluded.

If this Education Savings Account concept is not decisively rejected, it will confirm the theory that all of the standards and testing regulations heaped upon our public schools in the past decade have just been techniques to make privatized vouchers and savings accounts look attractive to individual parents, giving them an incentive to leave the public schools or voucher schools in order to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money. This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected by the General Assembly.

If this concept is not decisively rejected, the future of public education in Indiana is bleak. Our hard working but demoralized teachers and administrators in Indiana would take this bill as a signal that General Assembly is ready to put public education into a death spiral, and some would confirm plans to leave for other states or other vocations, making our teacher shortage even worse.

 This bill’s concept is based on Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools. It should be totally and promptly rejected by the General Assembly.

This concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further action. Our schools must pass on the tenets of democracy to every student if our democracy is to survive for another generation. Events of the past month at the U.S. Capitol show this is no trivial concern. Our democracy and the survival of the US Constitution are at stake. There is no way to check on whether Education Savings Accounts are funding independent anti-democracy extremist schools.

If the General Assembly is willing to give millions to home schools with no accountability, then they should remove all accountability measures for traditional public schools that at least have publicly chosen boards which supervise all expenditures.

Contact Your Legislators and Members of the House Education Committee!

This comes at a time when our democracy is imperiled. Public education has been a pillar of democracy in Indiana for over 170 years. Are you ready to defend it?

A hearing on House Bill 1005 could come as early as next week when the committee meets on February 3rd. Don’t wait. Send your messages now to your own legislators and to committee members.

Contact House Education Committee members:

Republican Representatives Behning (, Jordan (, Carbaugh(, Clere (, Cook (, Davis (, Goodrich (, Teshka (, Thompson (

Democrat Representatives Smith (, DeLaney (, Klinker (, Pfaff (

Here is a link to email them all at once.

Tell them you oppose HB 1005:

  • The $202 million price tag for only the first two years is huge and should instead be directed to boosting teacher pay.
  • It is wrong in this economic climate to prioritize giving extra tax money to high income private school parents who are already able to pay private school tuition.
  • Chapters 1 through 6 on pages 25-38 of HB 1005 should be deleted altogether to prevent public dollars from going to home schools and independent unaccredited schools with no accountability and no supervision checking on whether these independent schools are teaching anti-democracy extremism.
  • HB 1005 would divert millions from public schools at a time they need stable support.

Then email Governor Holcomb to tell him that he must oppose Education Savings Accounts if he is sincere in saying in his State of the State address: “ those options shouldn’t come at the expense of the public school system, which educates 90% of Hoosier children.” Education Savings Accounts would put the public school system in a death spiral.

Compare the Governor’s Proposed Budget with Seven Previous Budgets

Study the table below to see how the new 2019 budget matches up with recent budgets going back to 2007.


Source: The summary cover page from the General Assembly’s School Formulas for each budget

Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 1-22-21

When the school funding formulas are passed every two years by the General Assembly, legislators see the bottom line percentage increases on a summary page. Figures that have appeared on this summary are listed below for the last seven budgets that I have personally observed as they were approved by the legislature.

Tuition support and dollar increases have been rounded to the nearest 10 million dollars.

*As presented by the Governor. Adjustments discussed above showing diversions to private schools are not included here.

Your messages to legislators on this issue are crucial. Let your legislators know how you feel about House Bill 1005.

Grassroots support of public schools makes all the difference. Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

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 is representing ICPE extremely well in the extraordinary 2021 budget 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 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. In April of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Pin It on Pinterest