For those of you who missed it, or were there but just missed the speech given by the amazing Cathy, our chair, the complete text is below.
Many thanks to Roger Fierst and family for allowing us to host the party at Showers Inn.
Please remember to renew your membership. There are over 70 members that have not yet renewed their membership. Are you one of them? Not sure if you have? Email us!
Cathy's Holiday Party Message
Thank you for coming to our holiday party!
When we gathered here last year we were reeling from the elections—and fearful of what a Trump/Pence administration and continued supermajority in our statehouse would mean for public education. And we had reason to worry. Betsy DeVos came on the scene and made the country wake up to the plight of public education as a whole—and put Indiana in the spotlight for what is WRONG in education policy. The country was on fire during those hearings, recognizing the bigotry, the profiteering, and the zealotry that DeVos represents which threatens the democratic purpose of education—and our schools. #ThankYouBETSY
But this is where HOPE comes in.
We as an organization have been working like crazy to raise awareness around these issues, locally and across the state, for five years now. Public education advocates in Indiana already knew about Betsy DeVos, but now the whole country was waking up.
Here’s what we’ve done this year:
In January, we put together a workshop called “Defending Public Schools” for the Inaugurate the Revolution day of activism in conjunction with some faculty from Indiana University. In February, we joined public education advocates from all over the state to rally for public education at the statehouse, a gathering sponsored by state-level ICPE. The title of my speech was “Defending Democracy.” We also partnered with MCCSC in a community conversation about the legislative session and what we could expect for public education.
Also, in conjunction with IU’s School of Education, last spring we participated with the Social Foundations of Education program in a semester-long series on “What is Public Education and Why Does It Matter?” At the end of the semester, we also partnered with the Harmony-Meier Institute to honor one of our ICPE founders, Ellen Brantlinger, in two events, “Community Conversations about Democracy and Our Schools with Deborah Meier” and “A Public Conversation about Public Education.”
In April, we filed our lawsuit against Seven Oaks charter school and the state. I don’t know if you saw recently, but our suit is moving forward and that has put us back in the news and raised awareness. It feels good to know that there is something proactive that we are involved in this way—trying to put at least a small limitation on this very blurry line of the separation of church and state in Indiana. But moving on…
In June we held our own event, “Children Before Profits: Fighting the DeVos Education Agenda” and it was really well attended by many new faces.
The interest in the attack on public education was also evident in the different groups who invited me (as our representative of ICPE-Monroe County) to speak over the past year including: Democracy for Monroe County’s link-up, “Saving Our Public Schools, ” several classes at IU in various departments (PACE, SPEA, the IU School of Ed, and the School of Social Work) focused on public education as a social justice and democratic issue-- and then there’s the organization, Indivisible, of Columbus, IN—where I spoke this fall and where we will also be represented on a panel in January. They are looking at starting their own ICPE!
It is the interest in forming a group modeled after our own that also should give us hope, to tell you the truth. People in Muncie, up in the Valparaiso region, and down in New Albany, have all talked to us about the possibility of starting their own ICPE. This would be a wonderful thing—a working, connected network of public education advocates across the state. And this is something that we are working toward currently.
But locally, we hold events to raise awareness. Most recently, we held a forum entitled, “Special Education in the Era of DeVos: a Panel Discussion on Meeting Children’s Needs” which was a great way of creating the groundwork for the expected fight against Education Savings Accounts which we expect to come up in this legislative session. For those of you who don’t know… ESAs are like vouchers on steroids: parents withdraw public funds for any educational service and there is essentially no oversight. For special needs students, the parent waives the child’s rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to receive a voucher. The bill which would establish this debit-card education policy in Indiana was withdrawn last legislative session. We fully expect to see it rear its ugly head sometime soon.
But don’t spiral into depression here... or tire of more fighting—there’s more hope!
We have a growing membership (thanks to the help of Jennifer Steinbachs coordinating and the brainchild of Keri—our wonderful marketing inspiration!). We do have public education advocates as elected officials (point out Sue Wanzer, and anyone else—Mark Stoops was due to arrive).
We have teachers and educators in the room who are working every day to create a quality system for our kids and their future.
We also have engaged people in this room who have volunteered at the farmer’s market tirelessly no matter the weather all season long… and Nancy and Peg who have organized the entire thing and ended up doing more than their fair share of volunteering at the booth! And then there are those who have facilitated our meetings (Debbie), helped create the publicity (Keri and Jenny), pushed us to take actions steps and walked the walk (Tom) even in the hot 4th of July parade, we have letters-to-the-editor faithful writers (Mike and Dale and Jenny and Phil and Joan and Deborah and Ray & Marion Golarz). We have an amazing treasurer who keeps careful track of membership and the dues—Judy Maki! And the wind beneath her wings and support for us all—especially at the farmer’s market, her husband, Dan. I’m going to forget to mention many people who are essential to us….but, I do want to do a special call out to
Jenny Robinson, whom I cannot thank enough. All of you have seen the middle-of the night blasts. Jenny writes our press releases, edits everything I write, keeps track of our schedule, agendas, and is basically my right-hand woman! We owe her so much gratitude for keeping us going.
So, thank you. If you are wondering how to get more involved, talk to one of our board members. Thanks for coming out to celebrate our work!