Wednesday, April 24, 2013


House Bill 1003 – Voucher Expansion
The word going around the Statehouse on Tuesday was that a conference committee on voucher expansion was planning to give vouchers to all who live in attendance areas of “D” schools as well as “F” schools. This move would be a huge expansion, even beyond the Senate version of the number of students that would get vouchers for living in the attendance areas of failing schools. Instead of 148 F school areas, it would affect 389 D or F schools. That is 18.6% of all schools. Remember, this uses the flawed and widely disrespected A-F system introduced by Tony Bennett last October.

Let your Senator and Representative in the House know that using the flawed A-F system to give vouchers to 18% of Indiana’s school attendance areas is wrong. It will unfairly impact too many schools that were graded unjustly under the A-F system. They should vote HB 1003 down until a revised A-F system that has the confidence of the public is in place.
The Conference Committee report is expected soon which meshes the Senate version and the House version of voucher expansion. Then both houses must pass the final report one more time. We are hoping that changes made in the final version of the bill will lead legislators who voted for vouchers the first time around to decide to vote it down in the final vote. Your messages to them about the A-F system may motivate them to switch.
Contact your Senator and ask them to VOTE NO on HB1003
Several of the Senators are seriously in a tough spot now that House leader Behning changed the bill. Let them hear from the mountaintops! Shout it out! Stand up for your local schools! This bill doesn't make any sense, but it sure does take a lot dollars out of your community!
Specifically contact these senators who appear to be waivering due to Behning's changes.
Rodric Bray  
Jean Leising
Johnny Nugent

Luke Kenly
Dennis Kruse
Greg Walker 

Brent Waltz
Brent Steele

Copy the following letter and Paste into your message.

Dear Senator,

I was astounded and sorely disappointed by your vote for Hb1003. The House version coming back over to the Senate is estimated to cost traditional public schools $100 million in four short years. Traditional public education can not survive and effectively instruct the children of our state while taking that type of cut in funding on top of the original $300 million cut that was never fully restored.

But an opportunity exist for redemption. When the amended House version arrives which has been modified by Representative Behning to be even more damaging to traditional public schools than the Senate version, just vote NO.

Will be watching with interest and hopeful anticipation,

Sign your name and send.
HB1338 – Charter School Administration and A-F Revisions
This new version of HB 1338 is 39 pages long, and the last four pages propose a rewrite of Public Law 221 to recreate the A-F system following Rep. Behning’s revision that he introduced early in the session in House Bill 1337.
One issue is that it uses the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s proposal for how to change PL221 that the House resoundingly voted down in HB 1337 back in February. It goes into prescriptive detail in telling the State Board how to prepare a new A-F system.
The other controversial addition to the new HB 1338 is to put the “A” through “F” labels in Indiana law. This proposal drew immediate opposition from Rep. Vernon Smith and Sen. Rogers during Monday’s brief conference committee meeting.
Let us remember what happened to this language back in February when it was pages 2-4 of House Bill 1337. It was defeated decisively 61-33, with 31 members of the Republican caucus turning against it.
We need to ask them to turn against it AGAIN!
Senate Bill 189
SB 189 originated as a bill to provide some flexibility to school districts that were... deemed "A" districts. One of the key issues embedded in ESB 189 has been enabling "high-performing" districts to have calendar flexibility (ie. to allocate the 180-day school year into equivalent hours/minutes and not be bound by 180 separate days of instruction).

The House sponsor, Representative Todd Huston (R-Fishers) amended ESB 189 to remove the 180-day calendar year flexibility and he replaced it with enabling high-schoolers at "qualified high schools" to go to school for something less than a six-hour instructional day-in effect, as the bill read, "a student instructional day for a qualified high school consists of 'any amount of instructional time'."
At its core, SB 189 has become a "high school redesign" reform bill and at the very least, this new concept has funding implications, accountability implications, virtual education issues, student safety implications, teacher force implications, and taxpayer implications.  
The proposed Conference Committee Report did not "fix" any of these concerns.

In fact, it makes it clear that any student activity that is organized by the "A" grade district, an "A" grade high school, or a "waiver" high school that "occurs outside the traditional classroom" and is "designed to provide instruction or academic enrichment" is considered student instructional time. In effect, outside activities are on a par in value to classroom instruction.
While it didn't start out that way, SB 189 has become yet another major education reform-this time with minimal public input since this new high school concept was not inserted until later in the 2nd half of the session.
Please contact both your Representative and your Senator to  OPPOSE Conference Committee Report #1 to SB 189.

Special Thanks to Vic Smith and to Keep the Promise Indiana for providing helpful information.

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