Governor Pence takes a stand for freedom and local control of education

February 18, 2015 12 Comments

Last week, Governor Pence took a stand for restoring freedom and local control to Indiana schools, when he chose to publicly support Senator Schneider’s “Freedom in Testing” bill, SB470.  The bill, which would allow private schools that accept vouchers to choose from a variety of nationally norm-referenced assessments to comply with state accountability measures, rather than being forced to administer the New ISTEP, passed the Senate Education and Career Committee by a vote of 7-3.  It did so with the public support of Governor Mike Pence, whose education advisor, Chad Timmerman, testified on its behalf.  It is now headed to the Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard this Thursday morning, February 19th, at 9:00am in room 431 of the Statehouse.

During the hearing, democrat committee members questioned Senator Schneider over the bill’s exclusion of public schools, and asked if it would provide an unfair advantage to voucher schools over public schools. While Senator Schneider explained that accountability measures can be maintained using multiple tests, and stated that he would welcome an amendment to include public schools if that was amenable to them, none was offered. Instead, democrats opposed the bill, preferring that all schools  function under the control of the New ISTEP, which has been denounced by public and private schools alike. While at this point, SB470 pertains only to private schools that accept vouchers, we believe it is an important first step, which will pave the way for liberating public and charter schools, as well, from the New ISTEP assessment that binds them.

The fact that Indiana’s School Choice program was rated by the Center for Education Reform as the “second worst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy,” speaks volumes about the need for SB470. Only one-third of Indiana’s private schools (317 out of 969) are currently registered to participate in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, according to a report released by the Friedman Foundation this past November.

Likewise, an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) report released last month, corroborates that a major impediment to private school participation in Indiana’s voucher program is the concern over testing requirements and over-regulation. A full 62% of private school leaders who were surveyed cited “concerns about future regulations” as a major factor in their decision not to participate, while an additional 19 percent cited it as a minor factor.  Not surprisingly, the AEI report recommends that Indiana “hold private schools accountable in ways that do not threaten their independence and autonomy…private schools value their autonomy and ability to provide an alternative to public schooling. Regulations that require the adoption of state criterion-referenced tests or state curriculum standards impede their ability to offer alternative educational approaches.”

In short, without providing greater freedom to private voucher schools, the general public is quickly beginning to view vouchers as a vehicle not to increase parental choice, but as a lasso with which the government intends to corral private schools into their one-size fits all system. If Republican lawmakers truly believe in the concept of school choice and local control, schools that accept vouchers must be afforded the same liberty as those participating under the Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) program.

Please call or email your legislators, Senate Pro Tem David Long, and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and ask them to support SB470, which puts the word “choice” back into the meaning of “school choice” in Indiana!

President Pro Tempore David Long –
Leg. Assistant – Tracy Mann – (317)232-9416

Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Members:

Chairman Luke Kenley –
Leg. Assistant – Mitchell Osterday – (317)2329453

Ryan Mishler –
Leg. Assistant – Gloria Schroeder – (317)232-0930

Philip Boots –
Leg. Assistant – Elizabeth Napier – (317)234-9054

Ed Charbonneau –
Leg. Assistant – Amy Foxworthy – (317)232-9494

Douglas Eckerty –
Leg. Assistant – Alexis Miller – (317)232-9466

Brandt Hershman –
Leg. Assistant – Kayla Caviness – (317)232-9840

Patricia Miller –
Leg. Assistant – Jeremy Hoffman – (317)232-9489

Brent Waltz –
Leg. Assistant – Whitney Elkin – (317)232-9425

Carlin Yoder –
Leg. Assistant – Dalton Thieneman (317)232-9984

Minority Mebmers:

Karen Tallian –
Leg. Assistant – Brent Stinson – (800)382-9467

Earline Rogers –
Leg. Assistant – Tracy Woodbright – (800)382-9467

Greg Taylor –
Leg. Assistant – Doris Preyer – (800)382-9467


Comments (12)

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  1. Michelle Smith says:

    Stop pandering to corporate intervention, stop giving public tax dollars to charters and stop funding vouchers. You are not promoting smaller government, you are not promoting public education, you ate not promoting Democracy. You are instead promoting your own agenda which is unacceptable. If my vote counts in the next election, you will most certainly not have my vote. In negating my vote for Indiana Superintendent, you have shown yourself to be lacking respect for the Democratic process. Get over yourself and start defending and supporting the other citizens in your state.

  2. Mark Schlotterbeck says:

    ditto to Michelle Smith’s comments…..Just wait until 2016 when the teacher party rises up again and dethrones your Anti-public education agenda….lets stop this voucher non-sense ….let the rich kids attend their private schools…and stop taking money from the poor kids….

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      Mark, Thank you for your comment. I understand that there are arguments against vouchers, but I have trouble understanding your argument “let the rich kids attend their private schools and stop taking money from poor kids.” Funding for vouchers doesn’t go to rich kids to attend privates schools, it goes to poor kids to attend private schools. Vouchers GIVE money to poor kids, not take it away.

      • Victoria Z. says:

        Erin, thank you for your clarification!

        I truly hope your comment helps to educate the masses in their misguided beliefs of those only seeking FAITH-BASED EDUCATION for their children…and helping others provide said education for their children as well.

    • Victoria Z. says:

      I really do not understand how the concept of vouchers has been so misunderstood???

      People need to be made aware that…

      • “Rich kids'” parents, as you and so many others so kindly tag those at private schools, STILL PAY TAXES as y’all do…even though our children do not attend public schools.

      • “Rich kids'” parents PAY EXTRA for their children to attend schools where FAITH IS TAUGHT…NOT SUPPRESSED as it is in public schools.

      • “Rich kids'” parents are “encouraged” to donate money for less advantaged children to attend private schools along side the “rich kids” that make this possible.

      “Poor kids”, as you and many others decide to label them, BENEFIT from “rich kids'” parents.

      Is it really too much to ask that people educate themselves before vomiting their misguided opinions?


  3. Dean Vesperman says:

    However, the problem with requiring less accountability to voucher schools means that we the taxpayers have no control over our tax dollars that could be going into schools that are not educating the students of this state. We need accountability, which means regulations of the schools including how they test, when they test, and if their test scores our published. Next, even when there is accountability (see Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington D.C.) there has been far too much corruption in voucher schools to not keep an eye on them and hold them accountable for how they spend taxpayer money.

  4. Robin Owens says:

    I’d like to know how it’s equitable to allow charter schools to choose their own tests while requiring public schools to administer ISTEP? Your arrogance will NOT get you re-elected. You are NOT a professional educator nor are you surrounding yourself with them. Asking veteran teachers what they would do to improve education would take you a lot further than running all over this state’s educators, parents, voters, and children. Do NOT mess with our kids! We voted Glenda Ritz in and we can get you voted out! Your choice!

  5. Jessica Morrison says:

    I think it’s ridiculous that private/charter schools would get to choose the type of test they give their students! Public schools don’t have a choice. They are being forced to follow ridiculous standards. How about letting Glenda Ritz do the job she was ELECTED by the people to do?

    • Victoria Z. says:

      I could not agree with you more…but this is not about the choice of tests. This stems from the federal government’s manipulation of education and working down…


      As for allowing Charter schools and private schools to CHOOSE the standardized test administered…this would only be a WIN for public schools. The masses are just too obtuse to realize this would be a stepping stone for all schools if this passed!!!

      Do parents of public school children truly believe those parents with children attending private schools are only speaking up for said private schools???

      That belief COULD NOT BE MORE FALSE!!!

      When I spoke in front of the senators at the Senate Hearing…I SPOKE OUT FOR ALL CHILDREN!!!

      When I spoke in front of the Education Round Table begging that the standards be rejected…I SPOKE OUT FOR ALL CHILDREN!!!

      When I spoke one-on-one with Governor Pence last April, telling him that if he allowed the adoption of these standards that he alone would be ruining the education system in Indiana…I SPOKE OUT FOR ALL CHILDREN!!!

      How many parents, sitting there at their computers or smartphones have actually DONE SOMETHING FOR ALL CHILDREN instead of just sitting there running their uninformed mouths???



  6. carolyn says:

    This country has long been proud of offering quality education to all. Charter schools have not been required to accept those kids who need special help, for disability or the multitude of other reasons. Why then would they be allowed now to be exempt from the required ISTEP testing. They say “follow the money”. To all of you politicos who are padding your war chests and pockets with Charter School money, shame on you all! Our children having a GREAT education is worth so much more to us voters than you do. Can’t wait until we can show this displeasure at the ballot.

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