I just wanted to let you know that ICPE-Monroe County has been busy, even if you haven't heard much from us lately! We are trying to keep up with the state and federal education policy and it's been pretty crazy, as you know.
Today the senate education committee heard that dreaded bill, SB534 or Special Needs Savings Accounts bill.
I hope that you all have signed up for our blog so that you are receiving these calls to action. If not, please let us know and we will help you to do so.
Here's the scoop:
The good news: it did NOT PASS out of committee.
The bad news: it will likely be back. But probably not this session. However, you never know with this legislature. And there's still HB 1591 out there which will be heard tomorrow (I think) and is the universal voucher-type bill (it's actually universal education savings accounts).
Here is the background on the special needs savings accounts:
The bill heard today in the senate education committee at our statehouse would allow precious funding to leave public schools into, well, nearly anyone's hands in the name of a child with special needs. The parent would waive his or her child's FEDERAL RIGHTS under IDEA to then get a debit card of sorts (overseen only by the state treasurer and not the dept. of education) to pay for "education services" for their children with special needs. Can you imagine what this opens up? No oversight. Perhaps some kind of tutoring service being considered "education" for these kids. The kids would not have to receive these services or this education from teachers trained in special education; in fact, they may not be teachers at all. With the massive amount of oversight or red-tape that might be involved in having oversight, one can imagine how this could be greatly abused. Opiod crisis?
This is another way to open up the market for educational services that profit off of our public tax dollars. This is not okay.
The potential cost? $144 to $206 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.
This from our state legislature that can't fund schools well enough to ensure teachers get a raise or professional development, etc. This while we are pushing for preschool for Indiana's most vulnerable children and they are saying it is too expensive! (or they are trying to put private school vouchers inside of the preschool bills to further drain money away from kids with highest needs).
If you haven't already, please call Senator Kruse and other members of the senate education committee and tell them that you do NOT support these special education vouchers (SB534) nor do you support ANY expansion of vouchers at this time. Let's support preschool and support funding our professional teachers, not redirecting our money to unaccountable "service" "providers" or what-have-you.
For more information, please read this great post by our friend Steve Hinnefeld: https://inschoolmatters.wordpress.com/…/latest-voucher-gim…/
Or see our ICPE-Monroe County blog and sign up to receive it: http://www.icpe-monroecounty.org/…/education-bills-to-be-he…
You can calll Senator Kruse, chairman of senate education committee, and Senator Raatz who authored or sponsored the bill at this number: (317) 232-9400
Tell them not to bring it back.
and email the education committee members and ask them to keep vouchers OUT OF THE PRESCHOOL BILL (like it is right now, SB276) :
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVOCACY!
MORE NEWS--We are helping with a "community conversation" or "discussion" tomorrow (Thursday) night at the public library in Room 1B on state education policy...planned by the IU School of Ed graduate students with the Social Foundations of Education dept. There will be a noon event in the atrium of the School of Education building, also. We'd love to have your expertise and enthusiasm at the discussion tables if you can make it. Please try to join us.
I want to thank the Monroe County Community School Corporation for having us partner with them in bringing the Legislative Update event to our community last week on Tuesday evening. It was really interesting to hear from the many panelists--on the heels of Betsy DeVos' confirmation. It's clear that we are going to have to focus on what we can do to support and strengthen our public schools locally and statewide because the federal government appears to be on the attack. We are grateful to those of you who attended that event and we are so lucky to be in a town where the schools are working to inform their community about education in order to empower them to act.
MONDAY is the rally for public education brought to you by ICPE and in partnership with public education organizations and advocates from all over the state! "A Celebration of Public Education" will take place at the statehouse and speakers begin at 2:00. I will be speaking, too. Please share this information. I suggest you get there early... there may be many more people than last time (2015). Hopefully, this time the weather will hold out--if you recall, last time it was a snowstorm. The forecast for Monday looks lovely. (Fingers crossed).
Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, but I recommend you just take time once a day to try to do some advocacy. Make a call to the senate or house ed committee members. Write a letter to the editor. And then just get out in nature or have fun with friends. We need you energized.