Vic’s Statehouse Notes #349 – Is this the end of public education in Indiana?

by | Feb 1, 2021 | 2021 Legislative Session, Education Savings Accounts, Indiana Legislature, Legislative Alerts, Legislative Priorities, Privatization, School Funding, Statehouse Notes, Vouchers

Dear Friends,

Is this the end of public education in Indiana?

Is Indiana following Milton Friedman’s playbook to give education money to parents and not to the schools?

House Bill 1005 would authorize the Indiana Treasurer to set up an online portal costing, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, as much as $11 million to let parents take the money that now goes to schools (approximately $7000 per student) so the parents can run unsupervised home or independent schools.  The Treasurer can hire a bank to do the work  and can keep 1% of every account for the trouble.

House Bill 1005 makes 246,000 students (about a quarter of all Hoosier students) eligible for these accounts, which are called Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s).  Obviously the ultimate goal of Milton Friedman and his followers in the Indiana House of Representatives is to make all students eligible for ESA’s and let parents spend all education money without state supervision.

This is the path that ESA’s provide to end public education in Indiana.  I oppose ESA’s and House Bill 1005.

HB 1005 is scheduled for a hearing this Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 3:30 in the House Education Committee.

This is the moment.

All who support public schools should contact the members of the House Education Committee to express your opposition.  HB 1005 has been made a priority bill by the Republicans in the House.  This is the most serious attack on public education that I have ever seen.

Will you send a note of opposition to HB 1005?

It need not be as long as my written testimony that I sent today, which you can read below.   Just put in your own words what would happen if our state no longer had strong public schools.

Instructions for Submitting Written Testimony by Wednesday Afternoon

Here are the instructions from Joel Hand about submitting written testimony against HB 1005 before the House Education Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 3:

If you really want your testimony to be sent to the committee members, you will need to email it directly to each of them.

Here is a list of the legislators on the House Education Committee and their email addresses:

Chairman, Robert (Bob) Behning (R)

Vice Chairman, Jack Jordan (R)

Martin Carbaugh (R)

Edward Clere (R)

Tony Cook (R)

Michelle Davis (R)

Chuck Goodrich (R)

Jake Teshka (R)

Jeffrey Thompson (R)

Ranking Minority Member, Vernon Smith (D)

Ed Delaney (D)

Sheila Klinker (D)

Tonya Pfaff (D)

You can also simply click here to email them all at once

If you wish to testify in person, you must fill out an appearance form. The form is available at this link:

 HB 1005 contains Milton Friedman’s Plan to End Public Education.  Please send your objections!

My testimony seen below has been sent to House Education Committee members.  Please send your own thoughts to the email addresses above.

Testimony on HB 1005 submitted by Dr. Vic Smith, Indianapolis RE: Hearing on February 3, 2021

“I strongly oppose HB 1005.  Education Savings Accounts, Milton Friedman’s method ofending public education, will open the door to unacceptable practices.  We all lose when children are not well educated.  Under HB 1005:

  • Partisan extremists could use state home school money to teach their children to disobey the U.S. Constitution.  They will get public money, but no civic education about our democracy is required.
  • Racist parents could use state money to teach racist ideology in their home or independent school.  HB 1005 bans any state supervision of independent school curriculum.
  • Parents of special education students could spend state money on therapy that does not work.  There is no evaluation of student progress required.
  • The State Treasurer would be required to promote the tax advantages of the Education Savings Account program as an incentive to get parents to leave their school districts and sign up for the program. Every student in the ESA program takes about $7000 out of the budget of the student’s public school district.

The first part of the bill lifts voucher payments to give to high income parents who are already able to afford private school tuition, giving these parents a $65 million windfall but not teachers who need better pay.

LSA puts the fiscal cost of HB 1005 at $202 million for two years.  HB 1005 says on p. 32 that this money will come from the tuition support budget.  That means that Gov. Holcomb’s proposed tuition support increase of $377 million for two years is actually only $175 million, clearly not enough for all the rest of the K-12 schools.

The concept of “Educational Savings Accounts” for special education students and other groups included  in HB 1005 is so detrimental to high educational standards, so dismissive of maintaining accountability with public tax money, and so potentially dangerous to our democracy that it should be rejected outright as soon as possible.

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 in recent years have been raised.

2)      The plan includes no obligation for annual testing or public accountability except for students who enroll in schools giving ILEARN.  Students in home or independent schools have no accountability.

3)      The bill would give 100% of ADM money (more than a 90% voucher) to high income parents of special education and 504 students, children of active duty military and disabled veterans, and foster children.

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 felonies or neglect or child 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 in order to run home schools or independent schools with taxpayer money.  This ESA concept is taken from Milton Friedman’s plan to end community public schools.  It should be totally and promptly rejected.

I oppose all parts of HB 1005.  In particular, the Education Savings Account concept is too radical and potentially damaging for any further consideration, so at the outset, I urge you to delete pp. 25 to 38 (Chapters 1-6) of the bill regarding Education Savings Accounts.

Thank you for considering these major concerns.”

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.

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