During ICPE’s Day of Action at the Statehouse held on February 20, 2023 (Presidents’ Day), we hosted a mock bake sale to illustrate that no amount of fundraising can make up for the losses to public school budgets that have been caused by harmful education privatization policies over the last 11 years.


A budget reflects priorities

  • Indiana’s public schools have been chronically underfunded for years. We have 200 cookies here at the statehouse today in our bake sale. We would need to sell each cookie for $20 million dollars to make up for the nearly $4 BILLION dollars that has been siphoned away from our public schools due to bad education policies. Take a look at our updated leaky bucket graphic to understand what has been happening and read/share this blog post.
  • We are 36th in the country with school funding; it is not keeping up with inflation. Ball State economist, Michael Hicks, pointed out in 2021 that Indiana’s public schools need an extra $1.3 billion or so a year to catch up.
  • Per an analysis by Dr. Phil Downs, as of October 2022, on a per student allocation, the 2022-23 Tuition Support Budget is still 9% behind the inflation adjusted 2009-10 school year budget. 

Fighting over crumbs

  • Public school families are no stranger to bake sales, clipping box tops, crazy fundraisers and even crowdfunding for teacher classroom needs, projects, pencils, hand sanitizer and band uniforms.
  • After years of cuts to public school budgets across the country, many districts are relying on families to pay for classroom supplies, extracurricular activities and even teacher salaries.
  • Enough is enough! If we were having a real bake sale, how many cookies would we need to sell to give Hoosier children the fully and equitably funded education they deserve? Just the mere concept of school fundraising highlights the issues of privilege, elitism and exclusion.

Voucher Schools

  • Since 2011, over $1.4 billion public tax dollars have been siphoned away from our children’s public schools to private, nearly all religious, schools at a staggering rate.
  • Originally intended for students in poverty, now a family of 4 with an income of $154,000 can get a voucher. This year’s House-proposed budget takes vouchers to 400% of the federal poverty level which is $220,000 for a family of 4. Vouchers are essentially a government subsidy for private schools.
  • Voucher schools can openly discriminate against families and kids, don’t have to show us where the money goes, and don’t have to follow most of the laws for transparency and accountability that public schools do.

  • Every public school district loses with this policy. Click the map below to see how much your local district is losing due to the voucher program (even if you have no students using vouchers or have no voucher schools in your district). NOTE: on mobile, use your smartphone’s internet browser (not an app) for best view.

  • What could Westfield have done with an extra $2 million over the last five years? What could Carmel have done with an extra $17 million? What could IPS have done with an extra $45.7 million? Or even tiny Medora with $250,000?

Would you have been able to hire more teachers? More counselors and social workers? More special education professionals? Pay sustainable raises to our existing teachers?

Charter Schools

  • Public in state law, but privately run and not accountable to all of the same laws, charter schools create a competition where children are on the losing end of equal educational opportunity.
  • Equating charter and traditional public schools is mixing apples and oranges. Charter schools have different funding sources, different governance structures, and different forms of accountability and are exempt from some state laws.
  • Also, when charter schools fail to deliver, they default on their common school loans and do not pay back our tax dollars.
  • Funding that went to charter schools since 2012 was $1.9 billion at the end of 2021.

Virtual Schools

  • We are still waiting for the $154 million settlement for what Indiana Virtual Schools and Indiana Pathways Virtual Academy scammed from our state treasury!
  • How many cookies would we have to sell to make up for that loss?

Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs)

  • These are taxpayer-funded accounts for parents who withdraw their child from public school – a super voucher with minimal guard rails.
  • Participating parents can receive an estimated $5,000 to $7,000 per child per year to spend on participating schools and services.
  • Most parents don’t realize that key federal and state protections for their child are forfeited when they take an ESA.

Impact on Teachers

  • 95% of public schools are experiencing an educator shortage.
  • 55% of educators plan to leave the profession earlier than expected.
  • Indiana ranks 41st for average teacher salary out of the 50 states and Washington D.C.

Play by the same rules

  • Public schools are open to ALL children.
  • Over one million K-12 students are in public schools.
  • Public schools should be Indiana’s top priority.

This is NOT the time to expand the voucher program. This is NOT the time to expand charter schools or give them more money. This is NOT the time to enact universal Education Scholarship Accounts without standards and accountability. There will never be a time to enact ESA’s because they are just another form of voucher.

Bake sales or other fundraisers are not going to make up for the continued budget shortfalls that public schools face due to bad education policies. Join our grassroots coalition to help keep public education in Indiana PUBLIC.

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