Efforts in the General Assembly to give more and more public money for private school vouchers are relentless.
House Bill 1384, to be voted on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Education Committee, would allow new private schools to get vouchers the first year without waiting a year to get accreditation as they do now.
In addition, it would give voucher schools making D's and F's two years in a row an appeal procedure to allow them to avoid current accountability rules and keep receiving new voucher students, a loophole that could help as many as nine low-rated voucher schools.
Ask Senators on the Senate Education Committee to oppose House Bill 1384 giving more public money for the fast-track expansion of voucher schools and for low-rated voucher schools.
The members of the Senate Education Committee to contact before Wednesday at 1:30 are:
Republican Senators Kruse, Raatz, Bassler, Crane, Freeman, Kenley, Leising and Zay
Democratic Senators Melton, Mrvan and Stoops
(Or paste the list below into the "to" field of your email.)
Privatization of Schools: From Stable Centers of Community Life to the "Wild, Wild West"
One great attribute of public schools that Indiana has experienced for over 160 years is their stability and their function as community centers that bring together people of all walks of life. Voucher advocates are trying to change that climate by marketing new private schools hyped with attractive advertising.
House Bill 1384 would allow new private schools to get vouchers in the first year of their existence. Under current law, private schools have to go through their first year in order to establish performance data for use in receiving accreditation, a prerequisite for receiving voucher dollars. HB 1384 would fast-track the process to allow new private schools accreditation and voucher money in the first year of operation.
Joel Hand, our lobbyist for the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, testified against the bill and was quoted on the front page of the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017): "One of our fears is by opening up our voucher program to schools that have not been in our state before, have not previously been accredited here, is we could be opening it up to the wild, wild west. We already have an issue with a number of private schools that accept vouchers that aren't performing well. Now we're talking about potentially bringing in schools from out of state that have no record here in Indiana giving them a free reign to vouchers right from the get go."
Well said, Joel!
Lowering the Standards for D and F Voucher Schools
House Bill 1384 also allows voucher schools making D's and F's a pathway to more voucher money. Currently, if a voucher school receives a D or F for two years, they can't enroll new voucher students although they can receive voucher money for current voucher students. This point of strong accountability was used to sell the voucher program to the General Assembly in the historic voucher debate in 2011. HB 1384 makes a waiver appeal available through the State Board of Education to get around the two-year rule.
Public school advocate Sally Sloan of the American Federation of Teachers - Indiana testified against this concept and was also quoted in the Indianapolis Star (March 27, 2017, page 8A) saying that the state has gone back on its word to ensure voucher schools provide top-tier education: "When vouchers first came into being, we were told it's important that these private schools get the opportunity because they're going to provide so much better education."
Well said, Sally!
Contact the Senate Education Committee by Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 1:30 p.m.
Contact the members of the Senate Education Committee listed above to let them know you have seen enough efforts to expand unaccountable voucher schools while public schools get little attention from the General Assembly.
Ask them to defeat House Bill 1384 and then give more support to public schools.
Thank you for your support of public education in Indiana!
Vic Smith firstname.lastname@example.org