Yesterday the Indiana Senate passed a voucher expansion bill making Indiana’s voucher plan even more destructive than it already was.
The senate also passed a bill which allows anyone with a master’s degree (in any area) to become a school superintendent. No education experience necessary.
When Indiana’s voucher law was passed in 2011 the supporters said that it was so children of low income, who couldn’t afford private schools, would have the same choice as middle class and wealthy students. This is no longer the case…and, it’s clear now that giving poor children “choice” was never the reason. The voucher proponents were simply trying to get vouchers on the books so that eventually (meaning this year) they could expand it in order to 1) reimburse parents who already sent their children to private schools and 2) give more monetary support to private and parochial schools at the expense of public schools.
- This year’s bill allows vouchers for parents whose children already attend private schools. These parents already can afford to send their children to private schools. They already made the choice and found ways to pay for it.
- This year’s bill gives parents more money in vouchers than is provided public school systems for public school students.
“For a student who enters the Lake Central system in seventh grade, we would receive $4,700 per year. If that student enrolls in a private or parochial school, that school receives $5,500,” [Superintendent] Veracco said.
- The three senators I talked to in March, who eventually voted for the bill — and bluntly told us that they believed in “choice” — all home schooled their children or sent their children to private schools. By their votes they have shown us that their words of support for public schools are empty.
- This year’s bill includes an increase in the tax deduction for private school and home school “expenses” from $1000 to $5000. Meanwhile public school parents pay higher fees, and public schools are in financial stress because their budgets were cut by $300 million during the Great Recession which has never been replaced.
Sen. Pat Miller has authored Amendment 13 which would expand the tax deduction for home school and private school expenses from $1000 to $5000. The current $1000 deducation, authored by Sen. Miller in 2011, equates to a savings of $34 dollars on each tax return. LSA has reported that this cost Indiana $2.7 million dollars last year. Now Sen. Miller wants to multiply this benefit by five, which means it would cost taxpayers $13 million…
The voucher bill which now goes back to the house — which is also filled with voucher supporting politicians — for passage and then to the governor for his signature. It’s not law yet, but it will be. There’s no doubt.
HB 1357…removes the requirement that superintendents have a teacher’s license or a superintendent’s license. Sen. Pete Miller presented the bill as a change to let the local school board decide who should be their superintendent without requiring a licensed superintendent. He said the bill is “not saying an educator’s license is not important, but rather that it is not essential.”
…Senator Rogers then rose to speak, holding up the four-inch thick book of school laws and administrative code that superintendents must master, saying that experienced administrators are needed in schools. She said local boards can be pressured to appoint people not well trained and “flexible means yielding to influence.”
Then came the vote. The reds and greens appeared balanced on the board…A tie vote.
…the presiding officer of the Senate, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann casts the deciding vote. She quickly voted yes, and the bill passed 26-25.
This legislature disrespects public schools, public school teachers and the more than 1,000,000 public school students in the state. Current rules allow anyone to be a teacher if they have a college degree — in any area. Teaching is, apparently, so easy that anyone can do it. Similar rules exist for principals…and this bill provides the final piece of the puzzle…virtually anyone can be a school superintendent. They believe that children are so unimportant than they don’t deserve trained professionals to educate them.
I’m reminded of an irate parent who shouted at me during a parent/teacher conference. His child was not making progress and was having difficulty with reading. The parent, not wishing to admit that his child had a problem learning, shouted, “Why don’t you just tell him what he needs to know?” This is the level of pedagogical understanding present in our legislature. You don’t need any special training to be an educator in this state. Just “tell them” and they will magically become educated.
The Indiana legislature is doing its job well — that of moving public funds into private and parochial bank accounts. The fact that the Superintendent of Public Instruction was elected on a platform which included “no public funds for private schools” doesn’t matter. The voters gave the pro-voucher and privatization politicians a supermajority in both houses of the legislature as well as the governor’s office. The people have spoken.
Democracy allows people to vote against their best interest and we, the voters of Indiana, have done just that. The democratically elected legislature and governor in Indiana are hell-bent on privatizing education and letting public schools flounder with inadequate resources. They don’t respect public education. They don’t respect the vast majority of children who attend our public schools.
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” — John Adams