We were thrilled to have the energy of many new faces and the dedication of our old friends who filled the room at the H. Dean Evans Community Center in Washington Township last August.

If you were unable to attend, you can view the video below or here is a link to watch it back.

After I introduced our amazing board members and welcomed the crowd, our Vice President and MC extraordinaire, Marilyn Shank brought up Dr. Jennifer McCormick, our last elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, ICPE Board member, and now gubernatorial candidate, to get us riled up. The “personal is political” and we all feel very personally connected to our public schools and the teachers, staff and children within them. Nearly 87% of all Hoosier families have their kids in traditional public schools. Yet there is a strategic, concerted political attack on public schools by extremists in our communities – and in our legislature – which we must stop.

As Dr. McCormick said, “My concern (which many of you share) is what’s happening with funding and what’s happening with messaging… and that cannot be at the sake of destroying public schools. What does it mean to be pro-public education? It means WE are the choice and we have a responsibility to get it right.” She also said, “ We all have a responsibility to know the facts…and share them. Shame on us if we don’t go out and tell others.”

Dr. Pat Payne, another ICPE board member and local legend, inspired and educated the audience about how vital knowledge of our history is to the work for racial and social equality.

Dr. Payne said, “Our vision must be to fight with everything we have for school districts where academic outcomes, health outcomes, juvenile justice outcomes, financial outcomes, housing outcomes, all systemic outcomes cannot be predicted by race, ethnicity and/or gender identity.”

We had the privilege of listening to Julie Chambers, attorney and former HSE school board member, relay the disturbing story of what happened when extremists took over the school board in her district. Her story is a warning to all of us to get involved in our school board races, know who the candidates are, and ensure that public education supporters are elected–not conspiracy theorists with narrow agendas who spew negativity.

In closing Julie said, “Please engage your neighbors. Engage your friends and make sure they know who is running for their school board and who is on the ballot for their city or town council or state representative because it really really really does matter. All politics is local. You really can’t get any more local than your school board. It’s just so important because if we lose the school boards, that’s the base of everything. We’ve already seen what the legislature will do. They are funneling money away as quickly as they can. If we don’t have that protection in our local schools to push back to say they are important, I don’t know what’s left.”

Lastly, our voice at the statehouse and ICPE general counsel, Joel Hand, gave us a very brief synopsis of the bills that were passed last session, their possible consequences, and what we might expect (and fear) for the legislative session that starts in January.

We need your help. We are in the process of working to restructure our organization so that we can better advocate, inform and engage our communities. It’s critical to have a strong voice at the statehouse. This takes the generosity of your time, your talent, or your engagement. It also takes money. Please get the word out to your friends. Please reach out to us and tell us what you’d like to do or offer help. Please donate what you can here.

We are so grateful for your participation and support. Truly. This is about the future for our kids, our state, and the strength of our democracy. 

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