Testimony on HB 1002, Given by Dr. Vic Smith, Indianapolis March 9, 2011
My name is Vic Smith. I am a retired educator, and I represent only myself.
I oppose HB 1002 as written due to five objections:
1) I strongly oppose the provision in Section 10, page 13, to allow private colleges to serve as sponsors of public charter schools. I find it completely inappropriate to have privately appointed boards given the power to allocate public money to public charter schools. Private college boards are not publicly accountable in the way public boards are, and they should not be given this power over the public purse.
There is no limit in the bill on how many public schools these private boards might create. They are not required to have a School of Education. In Indiana, 31 private colleges would be given this power. They are listed on the back.
Other parts of this bill provide for a state charter school board to authorize charter schools as well as 22 mayors, also listed on the back. Surely these 23 publicly elected and appointed bodies can expand the number of charter schools without involving the unelected boards of private colleges that are not accountable to the public through open door laws or other public procedures that public boards must observe.
In addition, charter schools are to be non-sectarian, and many private colleges are sectarian. Will disputes erupt in these schools over the supervision of how evolution is taught or not taught, or regarding the teaching of church-state issues? Mixing sectarian and non-sectarian interests in this way is bad public policy and would be a recipe for problems. I urge you to delete private colleges from this list.
2) I strongly oppose the provisions in Section 25, page 25, to usurp the authority of local school boards over their own buildings. As a property tax payer, I have voted for schools bonds to build schools in my local district. Those were not state taxes but local taxes. The best use of those buildings must be determined by my local school board who should be free to lease, sell, or save those buildings for later use when full day kindergarten is finally funded. To have the state force the lease of these buildings when state dollars did not build them is totally unacceptable to me as a local property tax payer.
3) Every school needs more money, but we are told there is no money. If all other schools are getting a flat-line budget in these tough economic times, why should virtual schools be given a 10% increase in funding on page 25? That is not equitable and the increase should be deleted from this bill.
4) Regarding parent and teacher triggers, the bill must add a ban on instigating petitions by charter school management companies as happened in California. That would clearly be a conflict of interest. You should also rethink why parents of four children would get four times the vote compared to parents of one child.
5) If a charter school is to be run by an educational management organization as referenced on page 17, I urge you to require it to be a non-profit organization. Why should tax dollars that should be going to educate students be diverted to make a corporate profit for shareholders?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my concerns.
Currently authorized to charter schools:
1. The Mayor of Indianapolis
2. Ball State University
3. Indiana State University
4. Purdue University
5. Indiana University
6. Vincennes University
7. University of Southern Indiana
Authorized to charter schools under HB 1002, Section 10, (3) and (4):
1. State Charter School Board
2. Mayor of Fort Wayne
3. Mayor of Evansville
4. Mayor of South Bend
5. Mayor of Hammond
6. Mayor of Bloomington
7. Mayor of Gary
8. Mayor of Carmel
9. Mayor of Muncie
10. Mayor of Lafayette
11. Mayor of Terre Haute
12. Mayor of Anderson
13. Mayor of Noblesville
14. Mayor of Elkhart
15. Mayor of Greenwood
16. Mayor of Mishawaka
17. Mayor of Lawrence
18. Mayor of Kokomo
19. Mayor of Jeffersonville
20. Mayor of Columbus
21. Mayor of Portage
22. Mayor of Richmond
23. Mayor of New Albany
Authorized to charter schools under HB 1002, Section 10, (5):1. Ancilla College
2. Anderson University
3. Bethel College
4. Butler University
5. Calumet College of St. Joseph
6. DePauw University7. Earlham College8. Franklin College
9. Goshen College
10. Grace College and Seminary11. Hanover College
12. Holy Cross College
13. Huntington University
14. Indiana Tech15. Indiana Wesleyan University
16. Manchester College17. Marian University
18. Martin University
19. Oakland City University20. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology21. Saint Joseph’s College22. Saint Mary’s College