Reaching Out to Others as We Lobby

Sometimes it’s important to explore the possibilities as we lobby. As I was contemplating the best way to communicate to my State Senator about an education bill, it occurred to me that even though I am a retired career educator with information to share, perhaps someone else could be more persuasive. I called our local school superintendent and suggested that an appeal from all of the superintendents in our county might be a persuasive way to proceed.

He agreed to contact them and collaborate with a message.

The result was far better than anything I could have proposed by myself. It’s a lesson for all of us to remember we don’t have to do everything, we just have to find the best people and ways to communicate about specific issues. Thanks to Randy Taylor, Mooresville Consolidate School Corporation Superintendent, and Susan Haynes, Director of Communications, for the effort they put toward the great letter below.

Dear Senator Bray,

In support of the 94% of Indiana students who attend public schools, including the Morgan County students who are proud Bulldogs, Artesians, Eels, and Pioneers, we strongly oppose House Bill 1005, Senate Bill 412, and Senate Bill 413. Hoosiers all lose when children are not well educated and public tax dollars are not accounted for responsibly. Rod, you may not be aware that in your home county, hundreds of families already exercise CHOICE for schools, and they are choosing the public schools. More than 1,000 students who attend Mooresville, Martinsville, Monrovia, and Eminence schools do so from a different school district of residence. These schools are fully accredited and accountable, and Morgan County families know our public schools are the place for high-quality education. In Indiana communities, public schools have been and will continue to be the hub for vital services supporting the well-being of the whole child. Passing HB 1005, SB 412, or SB 413 would divert significant monies away from public schools, enhance the opportunity for a lack of oversight related to the intended educational purpose of such funds, further exacerbate insufficiencies tied to Indiana’s teacher compensation, and increase the risk to student growth, proficiency, and well-being. In Morgan County as well as countless counties across Indiana, the public schools are the largest employers in the county (Mooresville and Martinsville schools are the second and third largest employers for Morgan County, while Monrovia and Eminence schools are the largest employers in their communities). Siphoning money away from the public schools will drain funds from these communities with lesser funding for employment, for the upkeep of infrastructure, and more. Indiana’s most vulnerable youth and families deserve a per-pupil funding level that promotes adequate and equitable funding. Unfortunately, the language of HB 1005 gives advantages to families with high incomes and adds disadvantages for our most vulnerable by shifting risks. HB 1005, if passed, will defeat the spirit of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act and run counter to the initial rhetoric behind Indiana’s school choice.

Even with the amendment, HB 1005 would result in 94% of Indiana’s students receiving less than the tuition support increase of $377 million over two years that Gov. Holcomb proposed. Teacher compensation, support staff pay, COVID-19 academic and operational-related costs, student support service demands, constantly changing graduation and accountability requirements, and K-12 workforce development efforts certainly deserve the funding necessary to serve Hoosier students.
With the proposed legislation, private and voucher programs will receive about 38% of taxpayer funds for education while public schools receive 62%. With public schools educating 94% of students, these bills would effectively give private and charter schools $9.50 for each of their HAND-PICKED students while public schools receive a meager 65 CENTS per student. Why should Austin and Ethan Bray’s schools receive less per-pupil funding than private schools down the street? Why should their districts and teachers struggle to provide a more accountable education than charter schools, with a fraction of the funding?

We firmly oppose HB 1005, SB 412, and SB 413. We firmly support the adequate and equitable funding of Indiana’s public schools representing 94% of Hoosier students and families.

Randy L. Taylor Superintendent Mooresville Schools
Dr. Jay Arthur Superintendent MSD of Martinsville
Dr. Kirk Freeman Superintendent Monroe-Gregg Schools
Laura Penman Superintendent
Eminence Community Schools