Vic’s Statehouse Notes #370 – A radical plan
The Indiana Senate Education Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would freeze out community members, taxpayers and even state leaders from any influence over what the students of Indiana study. It would mark the end of state standards.
Yes, you read that correctly. Only parents would control the curriculum of their student if they opt for an Education Scholarship Account (ESA). Taxpayers who pay approximately $7000 a year for each student would have no voice.
- The Governor wants schools to prepare students for the workplace. ESA parents could ignore him.
- Those who love democracy want students to prepare for citizenship. ESA parents could ignore them.
- Those who love the arts want students to experience the arts. ESA parents could ignore them.
This radical plan to fund home schools and micro schools through accounts available online to any parent who applies could dissolve public education in Indiana in a few years.
Senate Bill 305 was approved in the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 8-5.
If you object to ending public education by way of universal ESA’s, send letters of opposition to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the next committee to review the bill. Members are listed below.
Sen. Eric Bassler
Sen. Liz Brown
Sen. Justin Busch
Sen. Ed Charbonneau
Sen. Michael R. Crider
Sen. Jon Ford
Sen. Chris Garten
Sen. Travis Holdman
Sen. Eddie Melton
Sen. Ryan Mishler
Sen. David Niezgodski
Sen. Fady Qaddoura
Sen. Jeff Raatz
Sen. Lonnie Randolph
Changes to the Bill
This bill is Milton Friedman’s plan to end public education and let parents run their own schools with your tax money. It’s easy to see how in a few short years, our public schools will lose enough money due to lower enrollments to enter a death spiral.
Senator Buchanan, the bill’s sponsor, amended his bill before the committee vote to do two things:
1) The generous income eligibility was returned to the bill, limiting access to Education Scholarship Accounts to families with an income of $154,000 (family of four).
2) Special education students are to receive 50% of the total amount appropriated. In the plan described by Senator Buchanan last week at the hearing for SB 305, it became clear that the “first come, first serve” scramble to distribute the appropriation to parents could mean that special education parents currently in the program could lose out if they weren’t quick enough to apply again.
The Glaring Flaw: Unsupervised and unaccountable parents control what students learn
When asked about performance data in the ESA program for special education students established in the 2021 budget bill, Senator Buchanan seemingly dismissed the need for data when he said:
“Parents are the ultimate judge. Are they getting what they want?”
So there it is.
- It doesn’t matter if taxpayers who foot the bill get what they want.
It doesn’t matter if state and community leaders get what they want or if teachers and administrators get what they want?
- Only parents control education in the world of Education Scholarhip Accounts.
And what must parents do to gain this power? All a parent needs to do to get the money that normally goes to schools is to fill out a simple online application saying they will spend “part of the money” so that their student will study “reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” Note the “or” in that sentence. No art, no music, no foreign language will be required. After two decades of exhaustive work, the high standards Indiana has adopted will be gone.
Businesses thinking about moving to Indiana will not be impressed that we are allowing state standards to be ignored completely.
Not All Republican Senators Have Abandoned Public Education on SB 305
Senator Jean Leising was the only Republican member of the committee to oppose giving ESA’s to potentially all students. She should be thanked for a courageous vote in committee.
Four Democrats on the committee also voted against it, making the committee tally 8-5. Sen. Leising, along with Sen. Ford, Sen. Hunley, Sen. Qaddoura, and Sen. Yoder should all be thanked for their efforts to resist the demolition of public education.
A Foot in the Door
Senator Buchanan has disguised the eventual cost of his bill by saying several times in committee, but not in the written bill itself, that he wants a line item of $10 million for Education Scholarship Accounts. The Capitol Chronicle (Jan. 23, 2023) has written that 43,000 private school students do not get a voucher, so if they apply for an Educational Savings Account, the cost could eventually be $300 million a year. Obviously, proponents of this scheme for universal ESA’s, the “holy grail” of school privatization, are just trying to get a foot in the door and would love to have any amount the budget writers give this plan.
Will you help defend public education?
Contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Committee members need to hear from hundreds of public school advocates that Senate Bill 305 is wrong! Giving education money directly to unaccountable parents instead of to public schools run by public school boards is wrong for Indiana!
Contact the Senators listed below right away. The Committee meeting has not yet been scheduled, but let the Senators know now about your strong opposition to SB305. You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the “TO” field of your email:
Senator.Bassler@iga.in.gov; Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov; Senator.Busch@iga.in.gov; Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.gov; Senator.Crider@iga.in.gov; Senator.Ford@iga.in.gov;
Senator.Garten@iga.in.gov; Senator.Holdman@iga.in.gov; Senator.Melton@iga.in.gov;Senator.Mishler@iga.in.gov; Senator.Niezgodski@iga.in.gov; Senator.Qaddoura@iga.in.gov; Senator.Raatz@iga.in.gov; Senator.Randolph@iga.in.gov;
Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!
Vic Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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