Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Response To Indiana State Senators on SB322

With Representative Lutz of Anderson on Arts Advocacy Day who was in no mood to talk.
Photo by Vicki Hardaman, AARC

My letter to Indiana State Senators after my visit to the State Capital on Arts Advocacy Day: 
As you can see from the figures in the attachment, ( New Palestine Schools State funding: 2007: $18,700,000.00; 2014: $18,677,150.00) funding for my school district, Southern Hancock Schools, has remained stagnant since 2006. The answer I have received from several of you when I mention this fact in conversation is that we are in a recession. That may be true. But the real reason over 50% of public school districts are in similar financial straits and operating on bare-bones bread and water diet, is that many of you don't believe in Indiana public education. Private school vouchers, initiated through this legislative body, have taken a huge chunk out of Indiana public education funding ($81,000,000.00 in 2013).

Those of us who are public education advocates have seen a pattern of policy and funding initiatives emerge from this legislative body that have done much harm to children who attend Indiana public schools. An intensification of high stakes testing, narrowing of the curricula, cuts to fine arts, physical education, school libraries and trans-disciplinary learning opportunities have led to diminished intellectual growth of children in Indiana schools and lowered the capacities of Indiana schools to develop cognitive ability in children.

Preparing children to take standardized high stakes tests, does not develop cognitive ability. Cognitive ability is developed when children are provided a wide range of learning opportunities in school and are afforded time to develop social and emotional connections to those subject areas. What this body has done over the past several years with implementation of high stakes testing mandates has turned our public schools into test prep factories. Now we see the possible passage of SB322.

The idea that voucher schools could take taxpayer money for private tuition but not be held to the same standardized high stakes testing accountability rules as Indiana Public Schools should outrage every Hoosier Taxpayer.

I urge you to reject SB322.

I thank you for your time.