Thursday, March 10, 2011

Voucher Opposition Makes Strange Bedfellows

It's getting serious in the Indiana General Assembly as the battle lines begin to be drawn over a controversial bill which would provide "scholarships" to families that make up to 250 percent of the level that qualifies you for free and reduced school lunch to attend private or public schools that charge tuition. The cash for those "scholarships" would come out of the pocket of traditional public schools. This is House Bill 1003, and this bill has broad bi-partisan opposition.

Whether or not that is enough to kill that bill remains to be seen.

WISH-TV's Jim Shella reported today that Republican Brent Steele, a Senate member from Bedford, wrote a very passionate letter to his colleagues. In the letter, he indicates that he does not want tax money to go to fringe religious groups along the line of the Westboro Baptist Church in order to educate children.

House District 92 Representative Phil Hinkle is also opposed to vouchers. I confirmed this with him on Friday in a casual conversation. Hinkle has long been in the corner of public schools on the voucher debate.

Also in the corner of public schools is the lone Democrat to vote for the charter school bill earlier this year, Mary Ann Sullivan. Sullivan confirmed to me in an e-mail a few weeks ago that she is strongly against vouchers.

Of course, all is on hold right now in the House. Democrats remain holed up in Urbana, Illinois. So far, neither side seems to be budging, and, as long as Democrats stay in Illinois, no action can be taken on HB 1003. That's one of the many things at stake right now and why Dems continue to stay away.

You can bet that House Speaker Brian Bosma, Governor Mitch Daniels, and State School Superintendent Tony Bennett continue to use the time to arm twist and try to change votes. The resulting battle on HB 1003 should be very interesting.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Steele I believe is a Senator.

guy77money said...

I attended a referendum meeting at Franklin Township Tuesday night. Apparently what I understand that the Republicans are trying to pass a bill that will let anyone open a charter school by paying one dollar a year for any unused school facility that is sitting vacant in a township. The school district in that township will have to also give the charter school funds from their transportation budget to pay to have these kids bused or transported to the school. Not sure if it is in this bill or one (will find time this weekend to read them all) that is pending.

The superintendent of FTSP stated if the referendum does not pass that they will do away with all busing of students (except special needs students and other federal and state mandated exceptions)to school. They actually are looking for a company to take over the busing. The problem is they want the school to collect the fee for each student to provide the service. I asked if the school had no transportation budget would they be forced to give a charter school money for their transportation needs and the answer was a resounding yes.

The problem I have with charter schools is they have come about due to the poor and mismanaged schools systems. Gary and IPS come to mind.

guy77money said...

I also inquired about how many employees in Franklin Twsp Schools made over 100 grand a year. There is only one employee for 9,000 plus students. Compare that to IPS where I believe they have 34 for 34,000 plus students! The graduation rate is 86 percent and ISTEP scores have increased over the last couple of years.

Part of me hopes the referendum does not pass and they go ahead with the proposed cuts. I truly want to hear all the people that vote against this complain when the roads around the schools are jammed, they have a hard time selling their houses and property values drop even more then they are now. Throw in the idiots who have kids that will whine to the high heavens that they have to come up with a way to get their kids to school.