Vic’s Statehouse Notes #362
The Indiana Treasurer’s office is building an online portal that could be used to dismantle public education in Indiana.
Now the Treasurer wants more money to build it and maintain it. This move should be resisted by all who support public education.
Senate Bill 331 is an admission that Education Scholarship Accounts – known as ESA’s – were sold to legislators using bargain-basement cost estimates. Now that their foot is in the door toward this goal that Milton Friedman prescribed to replace public education, we learn through SB 331 that building the online portal is more costly than advertised.
SB 331 deserves your strong messages of opposition to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed below. Before they meet this Thursday, January 27, tell them:
- Fix the flaws in Education Savings Accounts before giving ESA’s more attention and money.
- The Treasurer’s office should stick to the 3% funding put in the budget last year and not be given 10% of each parent grant.
- The budget should not be opened in a non-budget year to expand the ESA program to additional students.
The Online Portal is the Prize
Make no mistake. The fact that ESA’s are only authorized for a few hundred special education students is not the issue.
Just getting the online portal running is the goal, a portal that will be ready when larger and larger portions of Indiana students are voted into the program.
That is clearly the goal.
The ultimate goal of the followers of Milton Friedman is to make all students eligible for ESA grants and let parents get all the education money through ESA’s to spend without state supervision.
In the past 30 years, his followers have spent millions in Indiana and across the nation to divorce education from public school boards. Public education in Indiana is truly under attack.
This is the Milton Friedman path to end public education in Indiana. It should be resisted at every turn by all who support public education, starting with the increased costs to build and maintain the portal that will allow education funding to bypass schools and give money directly to unsupervised parents.
Fix the Flaws in ESA’s!
What are the glaring problems in Education Savings Accounts?
- No standards. All a parent needs to do to get the money (approx. $7,000 plus special education funding) that normally goes to schools is to fill out an online application saying their special education student will study “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, or science” or the student’s “individualized education program.” Notice the word “or” in this list. This is not an adequate education. What hypocrisy for the General Assembly to hold students in public schools to high standards while setting no standards at all for ESA parent grants!
- No protection from extremism. In an era when extremist ideology is a major concern, there is no protection from funding home schools run by extremist parents using your tax dollars. This is a clear threat to our democracy
- No criminal background checks. While teachers and even school volunteers must pass criminal background checks to work with students, parents of eligible students can get approximately $7,000 of taxpayer money for their home school with no criminal background check regarding previous child abuse, neglect or fraud charges.
Tell Senators before they provide more money for the portal they should fix these flaws in ESA’s!
Senate Bill 331
ESA’s for special education students were authorized in the middle of the huge 2021 budget when a stand-alone bill to establish ESA’s faded in the Senate.
The 2021 law allowed $10 million to be diverted from public school special education funding in 2022-23 to go directly to parents to run their own home school: no supervision, no accountability, no standards.
Parents could get a grant of money equaling 90% of what their child would get at their local public school, similar to a 90% voucher.
The Treasurer could keep 3% of the parent grant to administer the program.
Getting this program into law was a dream come true for the privatization advocates and followers of Milton Friedman who want to privatize all education funding and give public money directly to parents for private providers.
Now we learn through SB 331 that building the online portal is more expensive than legislators were told last year.
The Treasurer wants more money.
Instead of 3% of each parent grant, the bill would give 10%. Right now, with a cap of $10 million dollars on the program, the Indiana Treasurer would get $1 million. This is a hefty expense for a program that impacts only a few students. The big problem is that it carries the technology to eventually give education funding directly to all parents and let public schools deteriorate and wither away.
SB 331 also expands eligibility to students who remain in the program to age 22.
Send messages on SB 331 to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee listed below before next Thursday to say:
- Fix the flaws in Education Scholarship Accounts before giving them more attention and money.
The Treasurer’s office should stick to the 3% funding put in the budget last year and not be given 10% of each parent grant.
- The budget should not be opened in a non-budget year to expand the ESA program to additional students until they reach age 22.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee members and their email addresses are:
Sen. Eric Bassler Senator.Bassler@iga.in.gov
Sen. Phillip Boots Senator.Boots@iga.in.gov
Sen. Liz Brown Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov
Sen. Ed Charbonneau Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.gov
Sen. Michael R. Crider Senator.Crider@iga.in.gov
Sen. Jon Ford Senator.Ford@iga.in.gov
Sen. Chris Garten Senator.Garten@iga.in.gov
Sen. Travis Holdman Senator.Travis@iga.in.gov
Sen. Ryan Mishler Senator.Mishler@iga.in.gov
Sen. Tim Lanane Senator.Lanane@iga.in.gov
Sen. Eddie Melton Senator.Melton@iga.in.gov
Sen. David Niezgodski Senator.Niezgodski@iga.in.gov
Sen. Fady Qaddoura Senator.Qaddoura@iga.in.gov
If you prefer you can copy the email list below and paste it into the “To” field of your email:
Senator.Lanane@iga.in.gov; Senator.Melton@iga.in.gov; Senator.Niezgodski@iga.in.gov;
Senator.Qaddoura@iga.in.gov; Senator.Bassler@iga.in.gov; Senator.Boots@iga.in.gov; Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov; Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.gov; Senator.Crider@iga.in.gov;
Senator.Ford@iga.in.gov; Senator.Garten@iga.in.gov; Senator.Travis@iga.in.gov;
Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!
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