Vic’s Statehouse Notes #378 – A radical experiment
Please join us for a DAY OF ACTION AT THE STATEHOUSE ON PRESIDENTS DAY
HERE’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW: https://indianacoalitionforpubliced.org/2024/02/06/icpe-statehouse-day-of-action-unite-for-our-public-schools/
AND HERE’S WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT:
Will Indiana become the next state to adopt a radical experiment wherein parents are given control of education money, not the schools?
A cloud of uncertainty and instability now hangs over public education funding until next year’s budget session.
In the January 18 hearing on Senate Bill 255 in the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chairman Mishler put Indiana on notice that major changes are coming in the next budget to give control of education money (approx. $7,000 per student) directly to parents who apply for an account operated by the Indiana Treasurer.
He said he would not advance SB 255 in this session. He didn’t clarify the details of the 65 page bill to fund parents rather than schools. He called for a discussion of the concepts of such a plan to begin before the school funding formula is written next year.
Let the discussion begin with these notes of opposition.
Good News/ Bad News
So the good news is that the radical plan in SB 255 first devised by Milton Friedman to put education funding in the hands of parents to fund private school or home school options will NOT happen this session.
The bad news is that unless Senator Mishler changes his mind, he will adopt such a plan in the next budget in the 2025 session.
Let Senator Mishler and the other Senators on the Education and Appropriations Committees know that SB 255 is a bad plan. Giving $46 million, the LSA estimate, to unaccredited, unsupervised, unaccountable home schools is unacceptable. Giving money to schools that do not pledge to uphold and teach about our Constitution is unacceptable. Let them know that public schools need stability to develop programs rather than the turmoil this plan would bring to Indiana.
What Happened in the Hearing?
No one mentioned Milton Friedman’s plan in the hearing.
Senator Mishler scheduled the hearing on this historic bill on the same day as the hearing for the controversial dedicated bus lanes bill, which lasted three hours. The hearing on SB 255 ran from roughly noon to 1pm before Senator Mishler left to go to the Senate caucus. Indiana Treasurer Daniel Elliott was the first to speak, expressing great support for home schools and the Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program for special education students administered by his office. He said his four children were all home schooled.
Many were unable to testify when the hearing was cut short, including Joel Hand, who was prepared to testify for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education against the plan detailed in SB 255 which would undermine support for public education and, over several years, send it into the death spiral envisioned by Milton Friedman, the famous Libertarian economist (1912 -2006).
Friedman’s plan offered years ago was to take public school boards and state legislatures out of education administration and just give state money directly to parents to choose among private school and home school options. The plan undermines public education and will slowly drain the public schools of Indiana. Friedman famously wrote in Free to Choose: “The possibility exists that some public schools would be left with the dregs.”
Senate Bill 255 is precisely the Friedman plan!!!
It has been promoted and glorified all these years by well-funded libertarian and private school groups to the point where this radical change from our current common schools supervised by elected school boards is actually being proposed for all students in SB 255.
Those who support keeping the public in public education and teaching democracy to our next generation must stand against this move.
A Year-Long Discussion about a Flawed Plan Proposed by Milton Friedman
As SB 255 stands now for the year-long debate, it has crucial flaws:
- Providers on the Indiana Treasurer’s approved list are not required to have criminal background checks.
- Providers on the Treasurer’s approved list are not required to have state licenses. Questions abound about the qualifications of approved providers. The approval of providers is handled by the staff of the Indiana Treasurer who are not certified educators.
- Extremist homeschooling parents could use our tax dollars to teach hate, antisemitism and dictatorship. No one would know.
- With no supervision or accountability in taxpayer funded home schools, the 25-year push to raise standards in Indiana schools would collapse and disappear. Taking the ILEARN is the only requirement to get state money under SB 255, and there are no consequences for failing ILEARN. If the student later shows up at the doorstep of a public school years behind academically, there are no additional financial supports for the public school to help the child catch up. The push to get more students to pass IREAD would lose all meaning in this parent-controlled plan when IREAD is not required in home schools.
- All household income caps would be eliminated for obtaining tax-funded private or homeschool education.
This entire year-long debate announced by Senator Mishler further clouds the future of public education. Let Senators know how much you oppose Senate Bill 255.
You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the “TO” field of your email:
Senate Education Committee RE: Senate Bill 255
Senate Appropriations Committee RE: Senate Bill 255
Our public schools that have served as the backbone of our democracy for 170 years deserve our support.
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!
ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support ICPE lobbying efforts. We need all ICPE members to renew their membership if you have not done so.
Our lobbyist Joel Hand has represented ICPE extremely well in the 2023 budget session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!
Visit ICPE’s website at www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!
Vic Smith is a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969, serving as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor.
Vic received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, he was named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education and received the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.