Tuesday, February 26, 2013


If you teach elementary school, or remember to your younger days, then the following scenario is a familiar recess occurrence. 

Bobby – “I don’t like you and I am not going to play with you!”

Denny – “That’s not nice.  I am not going to play with you either!”

Bobby – “ Oh yeah?! Well, I will tell my friends not to play with you either!”

Denny – “Fine!  I will take my toys and go over there!”

Bri – “Teacher, teacher, Bobby and Denny are fighting again!”  They are not playing nice and Denny is taking his toys somewhere else to play!”

Sound familiar?  Well, it should!  This scenario is playing out in the Indiana Legislature and it is becoming rather childish.  House and senate education committee members, obviously still reeling from Novembers upset of Tony Bennett, can not seem to figure out how to please 1.3 million voters or their counterparts in different houses.  Representative Behning and Senator Kruse seem to be so bent on their dislike of educators and public education that they are now turning on one another. 

It appears that the battle has gotten to the point where Behning is deciding that senate bills will not get hearings in the house, and this apparent move seems to be causing Senators, like Carlin Yoder(R-Middlebury), to withdraw bills already passed out of committee.  Senator Yoder, author of  the bill to scrap the A-F grading of schools, pulled the bill on Monday for questionable reasons.  This bill was originally authored by Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso).  Senator Charbonneau was “demoted” to second sponsor so that Yoder could take the lead role, and now withdraw the bill in another apparent recess playground dispute of “I will just take my toys and leave”.

Does anyone else think it is time for these grown men to stop the petty political bickering and return to doing the jobs they were elected to do?  Yes, there have been some catastrophic bills moving through both houses this session, but there have also been some good.  It is time to put the bickering aside, stand up for our children, and stop making threats to one another’s legislation in order to further the destructive agenda aimed at Indiana’s Public Schools in favor of the profit driven private sector. 

Boys, the teacher has decided that you each need a time-out.  As we reach the halfway point of this legislative session, take time to understand the reasons 1.3 million voters chose a new direction and see to it that you serve that constituency with the same determination you spent the first half trying to destroy.  Glenda Ritz was elected as the voice of Indiana’s PUBLIC schools.  She is an even tempered, education expert who knows why she was elected.  I think back to my hour long conversation with her on election night.  She said to me, “ There never was any doubt in my mind that I was going to defeat Tony Bennett, we will see for sure in a few hours.”  Well, there is no doubt in this teacher’s mind that Superintendent Ritz has great things in store for Indiana’s public school children, once she is allowed to serve the 1.3 million voters in the capacity in which she was elected to do so. 

Representative Behning and Senator Kruse, take your half way point time-out and come back in the second half ready to do something to benefit and support our public schools.  The teacher is watching, and your next election could very well be your last.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Action Item: February 24, 2013

NO to HB1337
(Contact full House)

House members will vote tomorrow, Monday, on House Bill 1337, a massive partisan rewrite of the bipartisan Public Law 221 which has governed Indiana’s accountability program since 1999. Public education advocates should tell House members this weekend that passing the voucher bill is enough damage to public schools in one session. They should call a halt and defe...at House Bill 1337.

House Bill 1337 in any normal year should be the center of discussion and debate in non-partisan forums to direct the next generation of Indiana’s accountability program to replace the 1999 bipartisan reform, Public Law 221. Instead, House Bill 1337 was squeezed through the education committee on the last possible day with very little attention or debate, and certainly with no bipartisan support. It would:

1) let the State Board empower turnaround academies to become independent schools with the status of a new, small school district with an appointed school board, not elected. This fragmentation contradicts recent efforts to consolidate small school districts into bigger districts.

2) remove “improvement” as the stated goal of PL 221, replacing it with “performance.” This is a major philosophical change from the 1999 bipartisan reform.

3) require science assessments to be included in high stakes school letter grade decisions by 2014-15. The testing budget has not been increased to pay for this.

4) delete well-known PL 221 language we have had since 1999 saying results should be adjusted “for student mobility” and saying “Compare each school and each school corporation with its own prior performance and not to the performance of other schools or other corporations.” This latter deletion would open the door to assessing students compared to peers which has been at the heart of the failure of the current A-F system.

Ask your House member, especially if they let you down and voted for the voucher bill, if they would please stop further confusion and turmoil in our public schools by deferring this complete rewrite of our entire accountability program to another session when broad based discussions about changing our accountability system can be held. House Bill 1337 is a partisan law that few have even seen or discussed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Legislative Lunchbox v. 5

"Do legislators deserve the same apples teachers get for their efforts in education? Every Friday, "Hoosier Mom on Politics" makes that decision, giving two legislators a good or bad apple, depending on their support of Public Education and Indiana’s children. Check back every Friday at lunchtime to see what the Hoosier Mom packs in the Legislator Lunchbox for the week!

For this post of the “Legislative Lunchbox”, I chose to pack a lunch for State House Majority Leader Rep. Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and for Senator James Buck (R-Tipton). The Hoosier Mom has found that this week, things have come down to whether or not these gentlemen need to go back to manners school. A high-quality character is turning out to be a rarity in certain education reform circles in the State Legislature. Additionally, we appear to be at a disappointing juncture in the legislative process given the lack of any real concerted effort to do what is right for Hoosier kid's education.

Rep. Bosma received a good apple for extending an olive branch to Glenda Ritz yesterday, when he agreed to drop a proposal which strips Glenda of her authority that we - the tax-paying voters - gave to her in the last election. Specifically, he sent a bill, authored by ALEC member and Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), to the House Rules Committee where bills go to die. This bill was designed to transfer control of the State's school voucher program from the State Superintendent's office to the Governor's office. Essentially, it was a blatant power grab since these reform agenda-minded legislators were still feeling sour grapes over Glenda Ritz (Democratic Party) 'unexpected' victory over Daniel's hand-picked golden-boy Tony Bennett (Republican Party). The Indy Star article states that "the goal [of the bill] is to send a message". Send a message? By overstepping your legislative responsibilities in an attempt to subvert the decision of 1.3 million voters? This must be a joke! How about next time that you want to "send a message", you just do it the way us regular folk send messages: a letter, email, phone call, text message, facebook...heck you could probably even schedule a meeting with her and talk in person.Who knew there are so many ways to send a message! Rep. Bosma, you are getting a good apple this week, not because you are showing leadership and support on the issue of Public Education and what is best for Hoosier children. Rather, because out of all the Republican legislators in the House, you are the only one that has attempted to "send a message" in a manner that is consistent with the character and values expected of our State legislators. I hope you begin to consider the damage that has been done to Public Education over the past few years, and continue to communicate with Superintendent Ritz about ways the House and IDOE can work together to accomplish goals that are truly in the best interest of Hoosier children.

Representative Jim Buck received a bad apple in his lunchbox for his letter to a concerned Hoosier voter and Public School teacher who expressed concern in a letter for the fact that so many of the members of the House and Senate Education Committees have absolutely no idea about or experience with Education and Education related matters, outside of their position on the Committee. Here is a quote from the Senator's letter, just to get an idea of how inappropriate his response is:

"It is my hope that in the future you will appear sober. As your correspondence reads, you seem to be in a state of deliriousness or absent mindedness and may have written your email while in an inebriated state. Considering your correspondence has no relevance to truth or fact, it is also my hope that you will continue to further educate yourself on, not only the goals and objectives of the American Legislative Exchange Council, but also on the intentions of our General Assembly members."
Yes, you are reading that correct. The fine Senator from Tipton blatantly accuses the letter-writer of being drunk because the writer had the audacity to question the intentions of the "American Legislative Exchange Council" (A.L.E.C.) and the State legislator's buy-in to A.L.E.C.'s corporate education reform propaganda machine. Just to be clear, the letter-writer states they weren't inebriated when writing the letter: in fact this person doesn't drink at all. Which is ironically, quite unlike most of our Founding Fathers: like Thomas Jefferson, John and Samuel Adams (you, know - the guy with the Boston Lager), and the rest of the lot (see "The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition"). Now assuming that the writer wasn't inebriated at the time of writing the letter and doesn't need to check into a Betty Ford clinic (which political party did her husband belong to?), that pretty much means the Sen. Buck is being a bully to a constituent who was exercising the 1st Amendment right to free speech. Come on, Sen. Buck, it is best to maintain a character consistent with the esteem of the office which you hold, and seek to be proactive in engaging constituents in civil conversation. In fact, most of us would actually like to know exactly what the intentions of the General Assembly members are! The bills and measures I have seen only point to one thing: destruction of the quality of Hoosier children's education. Shame on you for your letter, and even more so - shame on you for supporting the destruction of the access to public education. Your constituents support the local public schools in your district: it is time you got on board the bus and support public education or face the consequences in the next election.

The Hoosier Mom hopes all the readers will spread the word about the Legislative Lunchbox. Feel free to email me with suggestions for next week’s lunch: for whom should I pack lunch and why?

Senator Jim Buck At His Finest

Sen. Jim Buck's response to me:

Thank you for your correspondence. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Clinton County Chamber Breakfast last weekend due to illness, but I certainly look forward to meeting you at a forthcoming meeting.

It is my hope that in the future you will appear sober. As your correspondence reads, you seem to be in a state of deliriousness or absent mindedness and may have written your email while in an inebriated state. Considering your correspondence has no relevance to truth or fact, it is also my hope that you will continue to further educate yourself on, not only the goals and objectives of the American Legislative Exchange Council, but also on the intentions of our General Assembly members.

Nevertheless, I look forward to a civil discourse. I am confident that you are at least twice as intelligent in person as your correspondence reads. Otherwise, I fear you would not be fit to teach our young children in public school.

Thank you again for your correspondence. I look forward to hearing from you on matters in the future.

Snarky Letter and Call To Action: Remove ALEC Agenda Supporters From State Education Committees

My rather snarky email I sent to the House and Senate:

The state's "Education" Committee is is going to vote on HB 1358. It's a "parent trigger bill" (another Republican ALEC bill) that would allow public schools to be taken over by a charter if 51% of the parents of that school voted to do so (and if a parent has more than one child in the school, they get more than one vote). OPPOSE THIS! Respect the established, and duly elected, governing bodies of public schools.

The House "Education" Committee is also voting on HB 1339, which further erodes teacher rights, including allowing a teacher to be suspended without being presented with any justification for that suspension and without the teacher being allowed to defend himself or herself against such suspension.

HB 1339 also allows charter schools to develop their own "performance framework" to report data to the DOE, instead of having to report that same testing data that all other public schools have to report. We're already comparing charter schools to public schools, when charter schools do not have to follow the same regulations as those aforementioned public schools. So why the proposed change? Simple! Charter schools ARE NOT performing as the Republicans, who have sold their souls to them, have claimed. THAT IS A FACT! So, change the rules, right Republicans? OPPOSE THIS!

REPUBLICANS, let me remind you once again to figure out your defense for your involvement with the corporate front group, ALEC, where you get many of these ridiculous bills We will be educating YOUR CONSTITUENCY at YOUR RESPECTIVE LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS about your love affair with this organization.

Finally, it's time that we remove this group of conservatives from the education committee.

Robert Behning (R - Indianapolis) - ALEC MEMBER! ---------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! Instead, this idiot owns a flower shop, which is great if you're looking to assemble a flower arrangement for grandma. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy. This tool kit has authored two bills which are aimed at removing power from the newly-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. Why? He's mad, a sore loser, and an ideologue.

Luke Kenley (R - Noblesville) - ALEC MEMBER! ---------------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! He's a judge, which may be great if you're looking to convict traffic offenders. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy.

Dennis Kruse (R- Fort Wayne) ------------------ Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! He's a real-estate agent and auctioneer, which might be great if you're looking to auction off a farm tractor. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy. SPECIAL NOTE: Dennis Kruse is the Senator who has consistently made Indiana a laughing stock of the United States (and arguably the world) as he continues to bring forth moronic "creationism bills". When confronted and challenged to take a high school biology exam, he openly admitted that he would fail it.

Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) - ALEC MEMBER! ------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! This genius is a poli-sci major who is a managing director for a construction company, which may be great if you're building a tool shed. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy.

Sen. James Buck (R - Tipton) - ALEC MEMBER! --------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! This mental giant is a real estate broker, which is great if you're selling a farm plot. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy.

Rep. David Frizzell (R - Indianapolis) - ALEC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN! ----------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! This tool kit is a Director of External Affairs for Magnolia Health Systems, which may be great if you're into greasing palms and kissing behinds. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy. He's the "Grand Poobah" for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Sen. Carlin Yoder (R - Elkart) - ALEC MEMBER! ----------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience!** NONE! This twit owns a dance academy, which is fine if you're into wearing tutus and swingin' your partner round 'n round. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy. **Note: I realize little Carlin claims to have been a school administrator at the Clinton Christian School. However, only real schools count here, not fundamentalist cesspools of disinformation.

Sen. Jean Leising (R - Oldenburg) - ALEC MEMBER! ------------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! She is a farm owner and retired nurse, which is great if you're taking the pulse of a few sheep (valuable skill in the Republican party). However, it does not qualify her to dictate education policy.

Rep. Cindy J. Noe (R - Indianapolis) - ALEC MEMBER! ---------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! Ms. Noe is "is an active member of her community", which is an incredible thing to put on a resume'. However it does not qualify her to dictate education policy.

Rep. Timothy Brown (R - Crawfordsville) -------------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! He is a ophthalmologist, which is great if you're trying to see to find your way out of your rectum. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy.

Rep. Kathleen Heuer (R - Columbia City) ------------------------ Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! She is a real estate agent, which is great if you're selling property in Costa Rica. However, it does not qualify her to dictate education policy.

Sen. Scott Schneider (R - Indianapolis) ------------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! He delivers ice cubes or a living, which is ridiculous. However, it does not qualify him to do ANYTHING let alone dictate education policy. He is a "Charter School Warrior of the Year for 2012". What is a "Charter School Warrior"? Is this a guy who works to destroy public education through supporting the ALEC agenda?

Rep. Edward Clere (R- New Albany) -------------------- Not one SECOND of teaching or school administration experience! NONE! He's another real estate broker. Must be an easy "certificate" to get. It's probably harder to be a cub scout leader. However, it does not qualify him to dictate education policy.

LISTEN: All kidding aside, these folks have no business on the education committee. They don't know the first thing of what life is like in the classroom. Most of them are business folks and have pledged allegiance to ALEC. Schools are not businesses. We are not stamping out parts like a factory. WAKE UP!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013



It is time to CALL your house members!

Call the Indiana House Switchboard

317-232-9600 or 1-800-382-9841.

OPPOSE HB 1337 -- Acceleration of Public School Takeover

HB 1001 Biennial Budget and School Funding Formula

Contact Your State Representative and Members of the House Education Committee ASAP to support additional assistance for Indiana's community-based public schools -- the schools at which parents of more than 1 million Hoosier students choose their children's learning opportunities. This proposal projects more than a $2 billion surplus at the end of 2015 -- there is room for a deeper commitment to our public schools from the state.

Note: CPI inflation rate is projected to be 1.8% in 2014 as projected by Global Insights during its revenue forecast presentation, Dec. 17, 2012.

It is recognized that the House Republicans increased funding to K-12 education from the Governor’s original proposal of 1% and a 2nd year 1% for high performing districts.

House Republicans today offered an approximate 2% (FY 2014) and 1% (FY 2015) statewide average increase under the school funding formula.

The chief component driving funding is the per student foundation amount.  Under this proposal, the foundation is increased from $4405 to $4547.  An increase here is always good.  However, it must also be noted that the foundation amount was $4825 in 2009 and under this proposal is projected to be $4584 in FY2015—still $241 per student less than 2009 levels.  The effects of the cuts in 2010 are lasting.

Here is the link to the formula run.  Please check your school district.  Look at regular education funding first.  Then check total funding columns.  FY 2014 is year 1; FY 2015 is year 2.

The tale of the tape on this formula run is as follows:
  • For regular education funding in the 1st year, almost 30% of districts lose funds from one year to the next.
  • About 70% of school districts will not exceed projected inflation.
  • For regular education funding for the 2nd year, about 40% of districts lose funds from one year to the next.
The proposal increases funding for FDK by about $7 million each year.

PRIMETIME funding under the formula is eliminated and moved into the foundation.

It must also be noted that the proposal offers:

(1)    no new funding for textbook assistance (straight-lined since 2008);

(2)    no new funding for remediation programs to help students identified through standardized testing as needing additional assistance (Indiana provided a total of $2.9 million statewide in 2012 for all of K-8 remediation);

(3)    no new funding for early intervention/reading programs;

(4)    no funding for professional development for teachers; and

(5)    no new funding for English language learner programs (Indiana provides $95 per student even though the budget calls for $200 per student—the amounts are reduced due to demand exceeding the appropriation).

This budget adds the following funding components to what already is applied against the FY cap—which serves to trigger a pro-rata reduction to all school districts if the appropriation is insufficient to fund the obligations:
  • private school voucher distributions;
  • the Mitch Daniels early graduation scholarships; and
  • the FDK grants.
Complexity index dollars (dollars that are there to help Indiana’s most challenged students) show an increase under this proposal.  
  • However, the manner in which complexity dollars are calculated changes in the proposal from students who qualify under the free- and reduced-price lunch program to students who qualify for free textbooks.  The rationale here is to more easily audit who is qualifying under the complexity component.
  • Analysis is being done to determine the effect district-by-district. 
Special Education per student amounts are straight-lined once again (no increase).
  • The last time special education per student grants were increased was 2008.
Career and Technical Grants per student amounts are straight-lined for two years once again.
  • The career and technical grants per student amounts have never been increased since their inception in 2003.
The formula run contemplates a 34% increase in private school voucher distributions (FY2014) and a 26.1% increase in voucher distributions (FY 2015).

The formula run suggests a $15 million increase in expenditures to fund new charter schools each of the next 2 years.

Selected Other Provisions in the Budget

Provides $16.7 million in performance awards for certain school districts.

Gives the Education Roundtable control of and funding for the following new initiatives and funds:
  • Indiana Works Council:                                  $1 million (2014) and $5 million (2015)
  • Dropout Prevention:                                      $6 million (2014) and $6 million (2015)
  • STEM teacher recruitment grant fund               $5 million (2014) and $5 million (2015)
  • Innovation Fund                                           $2.5 million (2014) and $2.5 million (2015)

Makes school funding a fiscal year distribution (rather than CY) and uses the 2nd formula count to alter certain funding and gives the SBE certain power to adjust student counts (ADM).  

Virtual schools become entitled to receive career and technical grants, academic honors grants, complexity grants, and FDK grants.  In HB 1338, virtual schools funding goes from 87.5% of foundation to 90% of foundation, a 14% increase in per pupil funding.

Under HB 1003, Indiana’s voucher program is expanded and, according to budget agency staff, the cost over the biennium will be an additional $20 million.

Contemplates a 13th check to TRF retirees; not a COLA.

The proposal does not include the Governor’s 10% income tax cut but retains the automatic taxpayer rebate and: 
  • Leaves $1.9 billion surplus at FY2014 end (12% of projected budget); and
  • Leaves $2.1 billion surplus at FY 2015 end (almost 14% of projected budget)
Please contact your representative and every member of House Education and convey your strong opposition to HB 1337.

OPPOSE HB 1337 -- Acceleration of Public School Takeover

NOTE:  The Chamber of Commerce and the ISTA have agreed on the fact that Indiana’s current A-F school grading policy is wrong-headed.

HB 1337 does the following:
(1)  Sets up a framework (with few details provided) for a new A-F grading system for both schools and entire school districts.  Under HB 1337, the State board of Education and the Education Roundtable will come up with details of the new system.
(2)  Accelerates the sanctions that “failing” schools and school districts would be subject to and gives broad authority to special management teams (SMTs) to operate the schools they take over.  SMTs are not “teams” per se. They are companies that enter into contracts to take over public schools.
(3)  For school accountability, once these takeover schools have been released from their SMT because they have achieved the goals that were developed in their turnaround plan as approved by the state board of education (which are not the same accountability goals that apply to other public schools), the school becomes an “independent school” and is assigned its own state identification number (and therefore is funded independently from the school funding formula, like a charter school).  These independent schools are governed by a board consisting of members that ultimately must be approved by the state board of education.
(4)  For school district accountability, sets up a school district receivership process that would dissolve a local public school board and replace it with a receiver designated by the state (board of education). Examples of receivers are mayors, county councils, town managers, etc.  Once under receivership, the receiver has broad authority to do all kinds of things (cancel contracts, convert schools to charter schools, close schools, and most anything in-between).
There were a couple of amendments to HB 1337 that Chairman Behning (R-Indianapolis) described this morning, but it is unclear at this point where all of this is headed:
(1)  Instead of lumping the same accountability consequences to a school or district regardless of whether they are in the bottom or next-to-the-bottom category, his amendment will trigger accountability for schools placed in the bottom category only.  He indicated there may be some additional state interventions for schools/districts in next-to-the-bottom category—but details were not shared yet.
(2)  He also indicated that there will be a provision to enable a takeover school to return to the public school district (under certain conditions) instead of forever becoming an “independent” school.  Details on this concession are unknown.
The basic premise of HB 1337 is, of course, still very problematic.  Let’s face it, the state board of education and the roundtable spent years coming up with the current A-F grading system that nobody likes.  More transparency, more oversight, more direction, and more time is needed to ensure that Indiana is focusing on the most appropriate metrics.
ISTA’s position is that we should be working on the details of the system first and together and in a transparent way—let’s let stakeholders have a look-see and a chance to weigh in before handing it all back to the state board of education to try again and before we engage in the rest of the bill which accelerates the prospect of new takeover schools run by companies seeking financial gain.
Before marching headlong into more and deeper consequences for already-challenged communities and creating more punishment—let’s push the “pause” button and get some things right.  
Please contact, once again, every member of House Education and YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and YOUR SENATOR to express your opposition to HB 1337—The Acceleration of Public School Takeover bill.
Some other features of HB 1337 (condensed version):

  • With regard to school takeovers, SMTs may exercise any authority granted by the SBE.
  • With regard to school district takeovers, the receiver may make any management, personnel, or policy changes it wants (including canceling, modifying, or renegotiating existing contracts) and if any action it wants to take is inconsistent with other laws, the other laws do not govern.
  • Teachers and staff in these takeover schools are employed by the SMT but the law specifically states that they are not required to employ them under the same contracts applicable to all public school teachers/administrators. 
  • Teachers and staff are not guaranteed participation in TRF/PERF. 
  • No collective bargaining for teachers in takeover schools.
  • No teacher input on health insurance (they get whatever is provided by SMT or the state).
  • Repeals the law that allows for local graduation qualifying exam waivers (to enable certain students who do achieve other benchmarks to graduate) and replaces the local waiver with an (as yet undefined) state board of education waiver.
  • Repeals the laws that allow for locally-determined exemptions to CORE 40 for certain students.
  • A more technical point:  Redefines “affected students” in the law so that a takeover school would be entitled to funding for students it is not actually teaching.  NOTE:  This is in response to a recent Indiana Court Case that decided in favor of IPS’ interpretation of the law, which interpretation justifiably limited funding that would be available to takeover schools to only those funds actually attributable to the students who enroll in the takeover school (and not attributable to the entire student pool that happened to be in the school when it was designated as a takeover.  In the IPS case, this amounted to $7.3 million).  Money follows the student…. unless we are talking about a takeover school.
  • HB 1337 attempts to accelerate takeovers and other extreme consequences before a solid, transparent, fair, defensible school/school district grading system is developed.
  • HB 1337 adds academic receiverships of entire school districts, accelerates the consequences on schools and districts in shorter time frames—creates “independent schools” that will be governed by boards heavily reliant upon SBE influence—after literally a few minutes of testimony.  We’ve seen this approach before.  It doesn’t work.
  • HB 1337 removes direct voter/school board accountability and replaces it with SBE/private company shareholder influence.
  • This is (once again) putting the cart before the horse.  The thirst to take over Indiana’s public schools by private, profit-making interest is apparently pretty unquenchable.
 Please let your representative and every member of the House Education committee know you oppose HB 1337!

Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis), h91@in.gov
Rhonda Rhoads (R-Corydon), h70@in.gov 
Lloyd Arnold (R-Huntingburg), h74@in.gov
Woody Burton (R-Whiteland), h58@in.gov
Edward Clere (R-New Albany), h72@in.gov
Dale Devon (R-Granger), h5@in.gov
Todd Huston (R-Fishers), h37@in.gov
Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), h69@in.gov
Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton), h28@in.gov
Vernon Smith (D-Gary), h14@in.gov
Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes), h45@in.gov
Sue Errington (D-Muncie), h34@in.gov
Shelli Vandenburgh (D-Crown Point), h19@in.gov

Monday, February 18, 2013


This week's tattle is directed at the media throughout the state of Indiana.  With the nearly 200 bills with some focus on education in Indiana, the majority of them focus on some manner of destroying PUBLIC education.  Not one bill supports a positive environment for teachers, and few of them address the real needs of our children.  One would think our state's media outlets from print, radio, and television, would grab hold of the growing concern of 1.3 million voters from November and follow up on the continued attempts to undercut, undermine, and destroy PUBLIC education.  Very few journalists are even reporting on the state of education in Indiana, and of those even fewer report the truth to what the ALEC lead GOP legislators are trying to do to our PUBLIC schools. 

Currently the media in Indiana covers so much "garbage" news and ignores the children of our state and their educational matters.  We need the media to understand what is happening in this legislative session and how these ALEC lead legislators are still running their attempts to destroy PUBLIC education for the benefit of their wealthy cronies and private corporations.  With the current state of education politics in the state, all the "sour grapes" education reform bills, and the attempts to continue to divert PUBLIC school money to private institutions, there are two journalists who seem to "get it".  Karen Francisco (The Journal Gazette) Dan Carpenter (Indy Star) are Indiana Journalists who stand out as understanding the destructive ways of the current legislative attempts.  These two regularly report on education happenings and the effects of legislative action on our Hoosier school children and their PUBLIC schools. 

Education has once again been forgotten by television news agencies, most of the rest of the state's print media, and the majority of radio.  If it is not glamorous, sensational, or about celebrity, then it rarely covered.  This is wrong.  Our children and their futures are more important that what celebrity divorce is today's news.  It is time the statewide media begin to cover the legislative process and its destructive attempts to "reform" public education.  It appears as though our states big media are too involved in helping the wealthiest citizens by not making mention of the negative impacts these legislative maneuvers have on the public school system.  They seem to think that if they ignore "us" we will go away.  It is time we demand media coverage of the latest legislative attempts and hold them to the duty to serve the public by addressing, uncovering, and reporting the true agenda of the states ALEC sponsored legislators. This needs to be done by true journalists who have an idea about what is going on, not the Matthew Tully's  and Andrea Neal's of the state who think they know "a little" about education because they were best friends with the Tony Bennett reforms.  The news media in this state needs to get their pointers from Karen Franciso and Dan Carpenter, and COVER education and the negative impact of all the destructive legislative actions.  Even Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post covers Indiana education politics on a positive note.  Why can't we get more Indiana journalists to do the same?

Let's call on our major media outlets in this state to seek proper coverage of education matters and less partisan political back patting of the good ole crony boys.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Disproportionality Between Remediation and Testing

Graph Shows the Disproportionality between Remediation Funding and Testing Funding from 2000 to 2013

Check it out and share it with your friends and family! This really has visual impact and represents the unorthodox shift in priorities and funding of Public Education which the Hoosier state is experiencing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Legislative Lunchbox v.4

"Do legislators deserve the same apples teachers get for their efforts in education? Every Friday, "Hoosier Mom on Politics" makes that decision, giving two legislators a good or bad apple, depending on their support of Public Education and Indiana’s children. Check back every Friday at lunchtime to see what the Hoosier Mom packs in the Legislator Lunchbox for the week!

For this post of the “Legislative Lunchbox”, I chose to pack a lunch for State Representative Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) and for State Representative and House Ways & Means Committee Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville).

Representative Randy Truitt received a good apple in his lunchbox for having the conviction to stand-up for the best interests of Hoosier Children. He voted no on HB 1358 (known as "The Parent Trigger" bill) which would use the fatally flawed 'A to F' school grading system as an avenue to - literally - allow parents to pull the trigger and shoot down a public school that receives a D or F grade. First of all, as a mother of 2 Hoosier Public School children and as an Aunt of 2 Hoosier Public School Children (going to school just Northeast of Lafayette in a farm community where I grew up), THANK YOU - THANK YOU - THANK YOU - for choosing to apply good ol' Hoosier common sense with your vote! Every mom and dad in this State should be sending you personal "Thank You" notes for your vote and this is why...

This bill is chock full of horrible policy choices. The A to F grading scale is relatively new and pretty much makes absolutely no intelligible sense. It applies grades to public schools nilly-willy, with no method behind the madness. There are some schools that have received a decent grade (A or B) one year, just to be followed up with a D or F the following year, and last year received some other completely random grade. Maybe whomever had the genius idea of implementing this grading system in Indiana could explain to me how exactly this correlates to how well my children learn and excel academically? In the real world, that is what all of us care about - how our kids are doing and what kind of citizens they will grow up to be. The grading system seems like a bunch of red tape and a waste of time and money to me! Now, some in the House are suggesting this flawed and bureaucratic grading system is what can initiate the take-down of a public school? What an absolutely ridiculous notion.

Not to mention that it is the TAXPAYERS who invest in our public schools, it should be the TAXPAYERS - not 51% of parents votes - who make decisions relating to the use of TAXPAYER dollars. The bill as it stands now allows parents to receive a vote for each child they have in the Public School and then a 51% majority of those parent's votes could shoot down a Public Institution and hand it over to a Charter Corporation. Mind you - TAXPAYERS - there is NO voter accountability in Charter Schools. Their Boards are established similarly to a PTO or a PTA, where the volunteering parents at the school run for and are elected to the Board by the other volunteering parents. The TAXPAYERS don't get a say-so in the administration of the Charter Corporation. I ask, where is representative government and accountability in that type of system? What happened to our American philosophy of "no taxation without representation"? Did any of these legislators that wrote and passed this bill go to their History classes on the Founding Fathers and the American Constitution? Representative Truitt, I can't thank you enough for being a true American and having the fortitude and consideration to vote "no" to this garbage bill that does wrong by the taxpayers, makes no common sense, and most importantly will not serve the best interest of Hoosier children academically.

Representative Tim Brown received a bad apple in his lunchbox for leading the committee process on HB 1338 which expands funding of "Virtual" Charter Schools. Current policy allows for Virtual Charter Schools to be funded at 87.5% following a rationale that it is significantly less expensive for a student to "attend" (and I use that word very loosely here) a computerized "clicks and portals" school compared to a real live "bricks and mortar" school. You know, the kind of real live school which TAXPAYERS invest because schools are one of the leading contributors to positive Economic Development within a community. From teaching Hoosier kids hands-on skills to being an anchor for community development, schools - and more accurately - public schools are the #1 source of jobs now and in the future for Hoosiers. 

Rep. Brown decided that Virtual Charter Schools needed more money and his committee heard - then passed - this bill which contains language to expand funding of Virtual Charter Schools by over 14%. Now, I don't claim to be the sharpest tool in the tool-shed, but I can tell you from personal experience - virtual classes are EASY compared to a class to by a real teacher. In fact, they are exceptionally easy which is why I prefer to take virtual classes at the collegiate level in my non-major requirement study, if at all possible. Some people may criticize me for that decision - and that is probably a discussion better had at a different time and place. The fact remains - I don't see how a 7 year old, or an 8 year old is going to really learn much of anything from a virtual class. I don't doubt that they will pass the class, but from my experience there is no way these 6,500 kids that "attend" Virtual Charter Schools are learning at the same level as their peers who attend a bricks and mortar school. And Rep. Brown now wants to give more money to these Virtual Charter Schools that clearly do not have the same expenses as a traditional school? Let's get real here, Rep. Brown. Crawfordsville is a really nice town and with a really great Public School system. Your voters attended that Public School and their kids and grandkids attend it now. Heck, you probably went to that Public School. How can you justify to your constituents a bill like this that will only serve to fund a lesser quality education than what you and your voters know is available? This bill doesn't make any common sense, except for if one's goal is to 'dumb-down' Hoosier kids. Shame on you Rep. Brown for drinking the Huston and Bennet Kool-Aid and doing a disservice to our great State. You should take a lesson from Rep. Truitt on how to stick-up for what is right.

The Hoosier Mom hopes all the readers will spread the word about the Legislative Lunchbox. Feel free to email me with suggestions for next week’s lunch: for whom should I pack lunch and why?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Show Some Love For Public Ed!

Fagheddabout It Day

Is it just me, or did the House Education Committee forget that today is Valentine's Day and that Hoosier families and friends across the state love our Public Schools? Apparently, Rep. Behning thinks today is "Fagheddabout It Day" and is working hard to show NO love for Public Education and Glenda Ritz today.

This is what Behning is plotting today...

Fagheddabout it -  HB 1309, HB 1360, and HB 1342 are all scheduled for hearings today in the House Education Committee and all are designed to undercut Glenda Ritz's duly elected authority as Superintendent of Public Instruction while at the same time undercutting 1.3 million votes. YOUR votes.

Fagheddabout it - 1.3 million voters that supported Glenda Ritz.

Fagheddabout it - Over 10,000 signatures to honor Glenda's victory after Gov. Pence's remarks that she won't change his agenda for Public Education reform.

Fagheddabout it - All the millions of  parents and community members who tirelessly volunteer and work at their public schools to make them a community place and to be involved as mentors in the lives of Hoosier children.

I say we tell Rep. Behning and all the members of the House Education that there is one thing they need to remember today...

Re-election - Fagheddabout it!

Fagheddabout it if you think dismantling Public Education will get you re-elected.

Fagheddabout it if you think following the ALEC agenda for campaign funds will get you anywhere in this State in the future.

Fagheddabout it - The PEOPLE of Indiana sitting back and hoping for the best with OUR Public Schools while they are at the helm.

Call your legislators...Call the members of the House Education Committee. Email them. Write them letters. Let them know that we aren't sitting back anymore while they dismantle Public Education in Indiana.

We are here and we want what is best for Hoosier kids, because that is what is best for all Hoosiers. We want our kids to have access to quality Public Schools!

Tell them to start supporting Public Education or they will have to Fagheddabout getting re-elected.

Contact members of the House Education Committee. Ask them to vote NO.  Do it ASAP.

 House Phones: 317-232-9600 and 1-800-382-9842

Republicans on the committee
Rep. Behning, Chair, h91@in.gov
Rep. Rhoads    h70@in.gov
Rep. L. Arnold   h74@in.gov
Rep. Burton   h58@in.gov
Rep. Clere   h72@in.gov
Rep. DeVon   h5@in.gov
Rep. Huston  h37@in.gov
Rep. Lucas  h69@in.gov
Rep. Thompson   h28@in.gov

Democrats on the committee
Rep. V. Smith   h14@in.gov
Rep. Battles   h45@in.gov
Rep. Errington   h34@in.gov
Rep. VanDenburgh   h19@in.gov

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



It is time to CALL your house members!

Call the Indiana House Switchboard

317-232-9600 or 1-800-382-9841.

Let them know you are fed up & fired up.

NO to HB1309(Still in Committee) BEING HEARD February 14!
NO to HB1339 (Still in Committee) BEING HEARD February 14!
NO to HB1358 (Passed out of Committee)
NO to HB1338 (Passed out of Committee)

These bills are the ALEC lead GOP attempts to undercut PUBLIC Education, undermine newly elected Superintendent Ritz, and scoff at 1.3 million voters who voiced support for PUBLIC education during the Novemeber election.

HB 1309 – This bill requires the State Board of Ed to elect a vice chairperson who...may call meetings, set and amend agendas...carry out other administrative functions -- will be heard Thur, Feb. 14 in House Ed that begins at 8:30 a.m.

The "may" provision diminishes the Supt of Public Instruction's role as the Supt. is the chair of the State Bd. who may have powers usurped by a vice chair. 1.3 million Hoosiers voted Ritz into this office with the expectation that she would perform the job to which they elected her.
Contact members of the House Education Committee. Ask them to vote NO. Do it ASAP.

HB 1339:Author: Behning
Various education matters. Replaces references, when referring to a charter school, to the term "sponsor" with the term "authorizer". Repeals the current definition of sponsor. Provides that the department of education (department) shall keep on its Internet web site charter school page: (1) demographic and performance data required from school corporations according to each authorizer's performance framework; and (2) an annual list of all charter schools, with corresponding authorizers and the school improvement designation earned by each charter school. Provides that a virtual charter school is defined as a charter school that provides more than 90% of its instruction through virtual distance learning or online technologies. (Current law provides that a virtual charter school is a charter school that provides more than 50% of its instruction through virtual distance learning or online technologies.) Removes a requirement that the department must submit an annual report to the budget committee concerning virtual charter schools. Provides that a charter school is subject to graduation rate calculation requirements. Removes a provision that a teacher serving under a regular contract at a laboratory school who transfers to a school corporation that is a party to the agreement with the university operating the laboratory school is entitled to receive credit for the years served at the laboratory school for purposes of meeting the five year requirement for an indefinite contract. Removes a provision that a laboratory school teacher's contract with a school corporation is an indefinite contract if the teacher has served five years at a laboratory school. Provides notice procedures for the cancellation of a principal's or superintendent's contract. Provides that a principal may request a private meeting with the superintendent within five days after the principal receives notice of a contract cancellation. Provides that a superintendent may request a private meeting with the president of the governing body within five days after the principal receives notice of a contract cancellation. Provides that the superintendent or the president of the governing body shall make a written recommendation to the governing body regarding the contract cancellation. Provides that a superintendent or a principal may have a representative accompany the superintendent or principal to the private conference. Repeals a provision that provides that a teacher contract continues in force following the date of the contract's termination, until the school corporation refuses to continue the contract, the teacher resigns, or the contract is replaced. Provides that a teacher contract entered into after August 1 is void if the teacher is bound by a previous contract to teach in a public school. (Current law provides that the contract is void after August 15.) Resolves conflict in IC 20-28-9-1, which was amended by P.L.229-2011, SEC. 175 and repealed by P.L.48-2011, SEC. 39. Provides that, beginning after June 30, 2013, a teacher who does not receive a raise or increment may file a request for a private meeting with the superintendent if the teacher received a rating of improvement necessary or ineffective. Provides that, after June 30, 2013, a local salary schedule must include the salary schedule framework under which two or more of the four permissible salary factors combine to determine increases, increments, or raises for a teacher. Provides that after June 30, 2013, a school corporation's noncompliance with the salary schedule requirements must be reported by the: (1) department; (2) state board of accounts; and (3) Indiana education employment relations board (board). Provides that the establishment of a voluntary sick day bank may be collectively bargained for. Provides that certain salary reductions are not subject to collective bargaining. Makes changes to the procedure for conducting a hearing for a teacher suspended without pay. Makes changes relating to staff performance evaluations for evaluations of principals or superintendents. Provides that a charter school, a virtual charter school, or a school that participates in the choice scholarship program may not use a staff performance evaluation based on certain models. Provides that a certified employee must receive a rating of either ineffective or improvement necessary if, after completing a remediation plan, deficiencies noted in the certificated employee's evaluation are not corrected. Provides that a model evaluation plan developed by the department after January 31, 2012, must be approved by the state board and published on the department's Internet web site. Provides that a provision relating to the appointment by an exclusive representative of a percentage of teacher positions on a district-wide or school-wide committee applies to all discussion committees. Provides that with regards to collective bargaining mediation, each party shall pay its costs of mediation to the board. Removes a provision that provides that a school employer may issue tentative individual contracts if an agreement has not been reached. Provides that the duration of the right to bring suit for an unfair practice against a school employer or school employee organization is three years. Adds a provision that allows a hearing examiner or agent of the board to assign the costs of the hearing in proportion to the liability of the parties. Provides that the factfinding process in an impasse proceeding may not exceed 30 days. Reduces the time, from five years to two years, in which a person who has served as a mediator between a school corporation and an exclusive representative may serve as a factfinder in an impasse proceeding.

HB 1358 PARENT TRIGGER : Authors: Huston, Behning

 Parental initiatives for school reorganization. Establishes the following parental initiatives for school reorganization of low performing schools: (1) The conversion of an existing public school into a charter school. (2) A petition to have the state board of education consider intervention and establish a lead partner to support the operation of the school. Repeals current provisions concerning the conversion of existing public schools into charter schools.

HB 1358 PASSED House Committee, February 12!

HB 1338: Authors: Behning
Makes numerous changes to Indiana’s charter school laws, including requiring the state budget agency (under the governor’s administration) to carry out the program to identify all federal funds available for charter schools, requires the budget agency to pursue any matching federal funds for charter schools, provides that the state board of education must approve the department’s report to the budget committee pertaining to virtual charter schools, requires the budget agency to administer new charter school start up grants, and requires the budget agency to administer the charter school facilities assistance program. These functions now assigned to the budget agency and state board of education have been, to date, accomplished by the DOE.

February 5, 2013 - HB1338 passes House Ed Cmte 9-3. Bill gives Mayor Ballard broader powers and adds more charter accountability.


 This week's Tattle is on the Indiana House of Representatives, specifically Representative Robert Behning.  Their ties to ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) are leading them down a path to destroy Indiana's Public schools. In all their infinite wisdom and cronyism, they have decided that 1.3 million voters do not matter.  The only thing that matters to them is satisfying the private school and charter desires of their wealthy ALEC supporting friends.  They are trying every method possible to slash and burn anything positive from Indiana's PUBLIC schools and to rob middle class and low income parents and children of the public education guaranteed by the State constitution.  These men and women in the Indiana House of representatives are thumbing their noses at the very people they were elected to serve, all for the sake of promoting the wants of their wealthy cronies.

Bob Behning, who appears to be less than fiscally responsible himself, claims to know what is most financially responsible for our public schools, by robbing them of nearly $47million to hand over to privates and charters in the form of vouchers.  He is a card carrying member of ALEC, and follows their design to the letter.  Along with his attempts to financially sink our public schools, like he did his own floral shop, he is also working hard to undermine those who actually know something about educating children. Introducing bills to undercut the authority of newly elected Superintendent Ritz and cutting at the heart of teacher rights and benefits are just the tip of the iceberg that is Bob Behning.  Representative Behning believes his seat, that he has held since 1992, is safe.  Well, Bob, you better be prepared for a toe to toe battle in your upcoming re-election bid.  Rumor has it there is an educator preparing to make a run for your seat, and it looks like another grassroots effort could be even more successful than Glenda Ritz's defeat of Tony Bennett. 

The rest of the Indiana House, following Behning like lapdogs, are also in danger of finding themselves on the losing end next go round, and it looks to be to some very unexpected opponents.  These current representatives will do better for themselves by listening to the voices of 1.3 million voters , by leaving our PUBLIC schools alone.  They should take note of the stand taken by Senator Kruse and the Indiana Senate and leave Public Education, Public school teachers and students, and Superintendent Ritz out of their line of fire.  Let Superintendent Ritz do the job she was elected to do, start ignoring ALEC, and start representing ALL constituents and not just the ones who paid your campaign funds.

This is a partial list of Indiana politicians that are known to be involved in, or previously involved in, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is a partial list. (If you have additional names, please add them with a citation. The names in this original list were verified as of posting.)

Legislators who have cut ties with ALEC publicly are also listed here.

Indiana Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives


Former Legislatures

  • Former Sen. and Senate President Pro Tepore, Bob Garton (D-41)[33]
  • Former Sen. and Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Harrison [33]
  • Former Rep. and Speaker of the House and 2012 Democratic Candidate for Governor, John R. Gregg [33]
  • Former Rep. and Speaker of the House, Paul Mannweiler