Vic’s Statehouse Notes #382 – Sneaky and inappropriate amendment

by | Feb 27, 2024 | 2024 Legislative Session, Education Savings Accounts, Legislative Priorities, Privatization, School Funding, State Budget, Statehouse Notes

Dear Friends,

I’ve been writing to you about the flawed plan to give parents control of your tax money to run their own homeschools, a plan which would create unaccountable micro schools that would take resources away from public school students.

Now a sneaky and inappropriate last minute amendment would set a new precedent: For the first time, general education students could use your tax money to pay for unsupervised home schools, in this case the general education students who are siblings of special education students currently in the online program run by the Indiana Treasurer.

I call it sneaky because the amendment to take this historic step came late in the short session as an amendment to another bill, House Bill 1001. It was not brought in a bill that could be debated on its own merits.

I call it inappropriate because it undercuts Senator Mishler’s invitation on January 18 in Senate Bill 255 to debate until next year’s budget the concept of allowing all parents to apply online for control of state funds in a “universal choice system.” As parents apply to control approximately $7,000 of taxpayer funding, schools would lose control of that same amount. His invitation to debate this step is rendered moot if the General Assembly has already endorsed this radical step for a select group of general education students.

How Can the General Assembly Fund This Proposal in a Non-Budget Short Session?

The program giving parents control of funds for unsupervised homeschools for special education students was given $10 million per year in last year’s budget. Demand for the program was less than expected. The 431 students in the program cost the state $5.5 million according to the Legislative Services Agency and according to State Treasurer Elliot in his testimony on SB 255 on January 18.

Instead of reverting the unspent money to help pay for the Medicaid crisis or other issues, this amendment would spend the rest of the $10 million on homeschool accounts for siblings.

By the way, no limit on the number of siblings parents can claim is written into the amendment.

Act Now Before the 9AM Thursday (Feb. 29) Meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee

Send a message to the Senators on the Committee listed below. Let them know you oppose the program amended into HB 1001 that would give parents control of $7,000 per student for unsupervised homeschools. Ask them to amend the bill to remove this last-minute provision.

Remind them of one or more of the huge flaws in the Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program which would damage our public schools:

Flaw #1: There is no supervision or accountability for parent-operated homeschools or micro schools funded by state tax dollars. Taxpayers are completely shut out of any influence over homeschools.

Flaw #2: State standards for schooling would no longer be set by the General Assembly or by the State Board of Education. Parents would set all standards as they run their state-funded homeschools.

Flaw #3: Teaching about democracy and our Constitution would no longer be required of all students who get state funding. Extremist parents could easily teach hate. No one would know.

Flaw #4: Parents are not required to pass criminal background checks to get control of the $7000 tax money, nor are providers approved for payment by the Indiana Treasurer required to pass criminal background checks.

Flaw #5: When each parent takes control of the $7,000 account to run their own homeschool or independent school, that same amount is subtracted from the tuition support for the public school district in which they reside, cutting resources for all the remaining public school students in that district.

Send your notes of opposition to your Senator and to Senators on the Appropriations Committee. You can copy these e-mail addresses and paste them into the “TO” field of your email:

Senate Appropriations Committee RE: Senate Bill 1001 Amendment on ESA’s;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

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!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

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 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.

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