Dear Friends,

A new and negative precedent was set today in the slow dismantlement of public education in Indiana.

This morning the Senate Appropriations Committee approved HB 1001 which gives state money to parents of general education students who are siblings of special education students currently getting Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s) to run unaccountable homeschools.

The committee’s final vote was 11-3, with Senators Qaddoura, Randolph and Yoder dissenting. Before the final vote, Senator Qaddoura, who strongly supports public education, offered an amendment to delete the entire section giving ESA accounts to siblings. His amendment failed on a party line vote, 4-10.

Senator Mishler, chair of the Appropriations Committee, has killed ESA proposals more than once in previous sessions. He did not kill this one. He said he was voting yes because the program would fit within the $10 million appropriation already in place for next year.

This is a sad milestone. It is the first time that general education students, the siblings, have been approved for ESA’s in Indiana.

We’re Going in the Wrong Direction: Standards are Falling

When I first began teaching social studies in Indiana in 1969, I never imagined that state taxpayers would be paying parents to run unsupervised homeschools which are not required to teach health, physical education, world languages, vocational subjects or even the arts.

These subjects are deleted from ESA requirements. The bill says parents will “use part of the money in the ESA account: for the eligible student’s study in the subject of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies or science.” Take special note of the word “OR” in the preceding line. Parents are not required to use the state funding for EACH of these subjects, perhaps only one.

That’s the end of the list for ESA curriculum requirements. This is not a plan for a strong education.

Then HB 1001 says “the eligible student will take the statewide assessment.” Again, that’s all that is said. No consequences for poor results are listed. There is no accountability.

Please note that there is no supervision of the ESA homeschools to see that students are even studying this minimal list of subjects. This is the definition of low standards.

Make it an Election Issue for November

This entire attack on public education was first proposed by economist Milton Friedman as a method of ending public education and turning education funding over to parents to choose among private options. It’s a radical unproven plan that is dangerous for democracy since teaching about our Constitution is getting lost in the confusion.

Senator Mishler introduced Senate Bill 255 which would make all students, not just a few siblings, eligible for an ESA account, taking $7000 out of any public school district they may leave. Senator Mishler invited comments on this proposal between now and the next budget session. Opposing this radical plan must become an election issue.

Talk to your legislators about your support for public schools and your opposition to unsupervised, unaccredited, unaccountable homeschools.

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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