As we bid farewell to 2021, ICPE Board Member and Founder, Dr. Vic Smith, explains the critical importance of ICPE:
“Public education in Indiana needs a strong voice of general citizens who agree that the future of our democracy and the success of our local communities depend on a strong non-partisan system of public schools. Public schools do not discriminate and are equally open to all. Private schools are not open to all and can discriminate in accepting students based on religious beliefs, talent or disabilities. Public money should go only to public schools because they do not discriminate and they accept every student that comes to the schoolhouse door. Public money should go only to public schools because they do not proselytize a sectarian religion.
These strong beliefs were in my mind when a clear threat to public education emerged in late 2010, after a wave election left the Indiana House in the hands of private school voucher advocates. I saw that there was no organized voice of general citizens to advocate for public schools. I was familiar with the Statehouse having served 12 years as Associate Director and lobbyist for the Indiana Urban Schools Association until my retirement in 2009. I had seen the 2005 private school voucher bill fail by a scant few votes when several House Republicans who supported public schools joined in voting it down. In 2011, those House Republicans who defeated vouchers were gone and the fight over privatizing Indiana’s schools was imminent with the biggest Republican majority in the House in 20 years, 60-40.
We need all advocates for public education in Indiana to join with us for the future of our democracy and for the benefit of our local communities where public schools are the bedrock and focal point of community life.
While organizations representing teachers, school boards, superintendents, principals and parents all support public education, there was no group in the Statehouse fray to speak up for public education on behalf of all citizens and all voters. I brought my concerns to Joel Hand, and together we organized the Indiana Coalition for Public Education in January of 2011. We saw ICPE as an allied group with modest dues which all members of other public education groups might join as well.
We’ve fought many battles in the last decade to support a strong system of public schools. The future of public education in Indiana hangs in the balance. We need all advocates for public education in Indiana to join with us for the future of our democracy and for the benefit of our local communities where public schools are the bedrock and focal point of community life.”
Click through the slides below to read additional thoughts and reflections from ICPE Board Members: