School "reform" in Indiana
2019, I wrote,
This year, just like in the past, the state of Indiana, ruled by one party with a supermajority in the legislature, has worked to disrespect public schools and public school teachers. The only way to fight this, aside from the daily grind of contacting legislators about every single damaging piece of legislation, is to elect people who don't hate public schools and public school teachers.Sadly, nothing has changed and my fellow Hoosiers, including many of my former public school colleagues, continue to send the same anti-public education folks to Indy. In this year's session of the Indiana General Assembly the Republican supermajority, like Republican legislators across the country (see here, and here, for example) are doing everything they can to damage the public schools of the state.
One would think we'd be able to get the teachers, themselves, on board with this...
They are attempting to divert more money for the state's already expansive voucher program...despite the studies that have shown that vouchers don't improve education. They will likely succeed. The state, of course, hasn't looked into the success or failure of the voucher program because it is no longer about "saving poor children from 'failing schools', the reason the program was begun in 2011. Now, it's just about "choice." This means that private schools get to choose which students they want, and once the new bill passes the Indiana Senate (which it likely will), those students will be more likely than not, white, and not-poor.
The objections from public education supporters have been loud and strong, but the supermajority doesn't care or need to listen.
Do the voters in Indiana (again, including many public school teachers) even know what the General Assembly is doing to our system of public education? Is Indiana so fiercely partisan that its citizens are willing to give up its public schools because their "tribe" wants it to? Ninety percent of the state's children attend public schools (94% if you include so-called "public charter schools"). Why do we keep electing the same anti-public school state legislators?
2021 INDIANA GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON EDUCATION
Indiana voucher plan could take 1/3 of school funding boost
The Speaker of the Indiana House said that the state should "fund students, not school systems." Unfortunately, he is ignorant of the Indiana Consitution which requires the legislature to fund a "uniform system of Common Schools."
From the Associated Press
More than one-third of the proposed state funding hike for Indiana schools could go toward the state’s private school voucher program under a Republican-backed plan that could boost the program’s cost by nearly 50% over the next two years.How Indiana has cut funding for students in poverty, hurting urban schools
The estimated $144 million cost for the voucher expansion and a new program allowing parents to directly spend state money on their child’s education expenses is included in legislative budget projections — but is more than double what House Republicans discussed in releasing their state budget plan last week.
Over the past few years, the state has cut into any extra funding for high poverty school systems because...economic segregation, racism, greed, political expediency...choose one or more.
From Chalkbeat, Indiana
Even though the state boasts an increased education budget each year, Indianapolis Public Schools receives $15 less per student today in basic state funding than it did seven years ago.Commentary: Money, mouths and education reform
That’s because IPS’ gains in funding for each student have been eaten up by a sharper decline in state support for students in poverty, district officials say.
In recent years, Indiana lawmakers have prioritized across-the-board increases for schools over support for disadvantaged students, favoring budget strategies that buoy more affluent districts while higher-poverty schools say they’re left without enough resources to serve disadvantaged students.
My local Senator told me (and a small group of public education advocates) a few years ago that the Senate was tired of all the "reform." He indicated that we needed to evaluate what we've done before we do more. That hasn't happened and he has gone along with the continuous increases for "reform."
From By John Krull in TheStatehouseFile.com
The self-proclaimed education reformers make it sound as if their efforts will have nothing less than a transformative effect on schools and students, improving scores and performance at an astounding rate.Former state superintendents united in their opposition to voucher expansion bills
The evidence suggests, though, that they just do not believe that.
If they did, they would be compiling evidence that students in voucher and charter schools were doing much, much better than their counterparts in traditional public schools. They would be testing the students receiving state funds to study in settings other than traditional public schools and the educators teaching them to build their case that choice works.
That the education reform movement works.
But they don’t do that.
At almost every stop, they take measures to make sure their plans and programs cannot be tested, cannot be assessed, cannot be held accountable.
And they do this while insisting traditional public educators and schools be held to rigid standards of accountability.
For the last hundred and sixty-plus years, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction has been elected by Indiana voters. The last two Superintendents (one Democrat and one Republican) have spoken out against education privatization. That was enough for the anti-public education legislature. They decided that they couldn't take a chance any more on the voters choosing someone who might disagree with them, so they changed the law and the new "Secretary of Education" is, along with all but two members of the State Board of Education, appointed by the (also Republican) governor. The other two state board members of appointed by the leaders of the House and Senate (also Republican).
Neither the Indiana Secretary of Education nor any members of the State Board of Education are elected. Apparently, Indiana's legislature doesn't want to give the voters a say in education matters. The state's voucher program, which currently costs the state more than $170 million each year, was instituted in 2011 by the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly without the benefit of voter approval.
The following letter from three retired State Superintendents speaks loudly, though the supermajority doesn't really care about what they have to say.
From Suellen Reed Goddard, Glenda Ritz, and Jennifer McCormick in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Education Scholarship Accounts will divert adequate and equitable funding from public school students and open the door to unacceptable practices. Hoosiers all lose when children are not well educated and public tax dollars are not accounted for responsibly.Vouchers undermine education for all kids
In Indiana communities, public schools have been and will continue to be the hub for vital services supporting the well-being of the whole child. Passing HB 1005, SB 412 or SB 413 would divert significant money away from public schools, enhance the opportunity for a lack of oversight related to the intended educational purpose of such funds, further exacerbate insufficiencies tied to Indiana's teacher compensation, and increase the risk to student growth, proficiency and well-being...
I disagree with this writer. I don't think that the supermajority hopes "no one notices" what they're doing to education. I think they don't care since they can do whatever they want.
The concept of "common good" is all but gone.
From Robert Stwalley in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly is attempting to quietly gut public education and hope no one notices...
School choice advocates would have you believe that money should follow the child because this platitude is simple and seems to make sense on the surface. However, this is completely untrue and detrimental to the overall concept of a tuition-free public school system.
Taxes are collected from everyone to support government activities. Public schools are government entities designed to improve society by providing a practical education for the young citizens of tomorrow. Everyone is better off with an educated populace.
If you need more evidence that the Republican majority hates Indiana's public education, here are some more. There's still a chance that the State Senate will reject the increase in vouchers and the development of Education Savings Accounts, but I don't think the odds are very good of that happening. I hope I'm wrong.
Our Opinion: Failing grades for Indiana voucher expansion bills
Viewpoint: Three bills would do harm to public schools, Indiana's economy
Lawmakers need to choose schools over 'school choice'
An Opposition Letter from Public School Supporters to Members of the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Holcomb