ISTA Talking Points


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ISTA Talking Points

  1. 1. SPECIAL REPORT LEGISLATIVE ISSUES AND TALKING POINTS January 22, 2011OverviewThe purpose of this paper is to summarize new legislative issues that affect professional educators and to provide sometalking points for each of the issues. You can pick and choose from some or all of the talking points when you speakwith a legislator, a parent, and/or a community member on any given issue. Better yet, if you are more comfortable witha talking point you generate yourself, by all means use it. Please however heed the special note at the end of thisreport.The IssuesThe current provisions of law that will be changed if current bills are passed will affect the following aspects of theteaching profession as we know it. Teachers’ Licenses: The State Superintendent of Schools, Tony Bennett, will have the authority to revoke any teacher’s contract any time he chooses without showing cause or holding a hearing. There will be no right to appeal his decision. On the other hand, up to 50% of teachers in charter schools will not even be required to hold teachers’ licenses. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: If we truly want to attract and retain great teachers, how does giving one person virtually dictatorial control over their professional being? o Talking Point: Why shouldn’t all teachers have some right to a fair and due process before they are permanently excluded from the profession? o Talking Point: Why should standards for who can teach our children be inequitable just because one person is teaching in a regular public school and another person is teaching in a charter school? o Talking Point: Shouldn’t we expect to have the same high quality of teacher regardless of what kind of school a student attends? o Talking Point: If we are to accept that a person without a teacher’s license can be a highly effective teacher in a charter school, why would that same person not be equally highly effective in a regular school setting? Teacher Contracts: At most, a teacher will be granted a two year contract with little guarantee that he/she will remain employed for the term of the contract (see Teacher Dismissals and Reductions in Force). (HB 1337) o Talking Point: If a teacher knows that at the end of every two years, he/she could lose his/her job without any due process or good reasons, no matter how effective the teacher has been, what will attract and retain the best and brightest individuals to the profession? It certainly won’t be the money! Teacher Evaluations: Every teacher will be evaluated every year. The school corporation will publish summaries of any and all teachers’ evaluations in the local media. The State Board of Education will establish the evaluation criteria for teacher evaluation. Locals can develop their own, but must be approved by the IDOE. Teachers will have little or not input as to how they will be evaluated. Teachers may be required to evaluate fellow teachers. Outside agencies can come in to evaluate teachers. A significant measure of a teacher’s performance will come from students’ standardized test scores. (HB 1337) and (HB 1488) o Talking Point: How thorough an evaluation will a school principal be able to give each teacher if the principal has to do all the things a principal has to do and spend time evaluating every teacher? Wouldn’t it be better to have the principal evaluate fewer teachers more thoroughly to best distinguish the highly effective teachers from the less effective ones? o Talking Point: Do the parents and taxpayers in a community want strangers from outside the community and the school corporation telling them what kind of teachers they have, or would they prefer to tell the State what kind of teachers they have? What ever happened to the idea that the community knows best for what it wants in its schools? o Talking Point: Will highly effective teachers want to come to or stay in public schools when having performance based on student test scores is less threatening in private and charter schools because the private and charter schools can be much more selective in determining what kind of students come into their classrooms or maybe not even base teacher performance on student test scores? Disciplining of Teachers: Administrators will be able to suspend teaches without pay and with little or no due process. Administrators apparently will have no requirement to even show cause for the suspension. Unless a 1
  2. 2. teacher otherwise agrees, currently a school corporation may only suspend a teacher with pay if it chooses notto offer due process to the teacher. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: In a perfect world, we could trust that all administrators would never discipline a teacher unless the teacher deserved it, but is this a perfect world? o Talking Point: How will we keep highly effective individuals interested in teaching when they have no assurances that they will only be disciplined when there is good reason to discipline them?Teacher Dismissals: Any cancellation of a teacher contract will be “strictly construed.” This means that thecourts cannot intervene and order a teacher reinstated if the teacher was given the few due process rights therevised law will require. Such as, teachers will be “at will” employees subject to being fired by a principal,central office administrator, or the school board at any time without cause. Instead of termination hearingswhere teachers get to hear the charges against them, question their accusers, call their own witnesses, and beprotected from arbitrary and capricious reasons for losing their jobs, teachers will be fired with very littleadvance notice during a school year and anytime between school years and, at best, be allowed a conferencewith the superintendent or school board where the teacher can ask not to be fired. The school corporationdetermines when this conference will take place, i.e. it does not have to act within 40 calendar days aspresently required by law to do. It can act sooner or later. While the teacher is waiting for the conference,he/she will be suspended without pay rather than with pay as is done now. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: In a perfect world, we could trust that all administrators would never fire a teacher unless the teacher deserved it, but is this a perfect world? o Talking Point: How will we keep highly effective individuals interested in teaching when they have no assurances that they will keep their job unless there is good reason to discipline them and they will have the right to insist that the administration show that there is good reason to fire them?Reductions in Force: Teachers will be laid off at the whim of the school corporation without regard for seniorityor contract status. Lay offs can come at any time. There would be no guarantee of recall in reverse order oreven of being recalled at all when positions are once again being filled. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: In a perfect world, we could trust that all administrators would always be able to determine who are the best teachers and retain them in RIF situations, but is this a perfect world? o Talking Point: Everyone should agree that where it can be objectively shown that one teacher is markedly better than another, then that teacher should be retained in a RIF, but how will we keep highly effective individuals interested in teaching when they have no assurances that they will keep their jobs in a RIF for objective reasons rather than be at the mercy of the subjective judgment of administrators?Work Hours & Work Days: The school corporation would have the legal authority to determine how manyhours a day and how many days a year teachers have to work without bargaining or discussing this with theAssociation. The State would require a minimum of 180 student days and 185 teacher days but the schoolcorporation could add as many days to this minimum as it chooses without negotiation, discussion, or additionalpay. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Teachers are like every other working person in Indiana. They want to be paid a fair income for what they do. If the pay teachers are offered does not fairly compensate them for the number of days a year or the number of hours a day they work, what will be the motivation for their wanting to come into or remain in the profession? o Talking Point: We are out of touch with reality if we think there are enough highly qualified and highly effective individuals in this state to fill every teaching position in every school regardless of how many days a year they will be required to work or how many hours a day they will work. o Talking Point: If we do not make this profession attractive to the best and the brightest people, we will never have enough highly effective teachers to go around. Not giving teachers any say in how many days they will have to work a year or how many hours a day they will have to work, is not making the profession attractive to anyone who would want to be a teacher.Teachers’ Meetings: The school corporation would have the legal authority to require teachers to attend anyand all teachers’ meetings its administrators call whether before, during, or after school, week days or weekends. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: (see Talking Points for Work Hours * Work Days above)Teacher Rights: The only rights teachers will have will be those gratuitously granted in policy by their schoolcorporations and then, only if State Superintendent Bennett does not exercise his right to impose his ownpolicies on the school corporation. (HB 1337) 2
  3. 3. o Talking Point: If teachers are denied some say in the rights and benefits the job will offer them, i.e. if there is little or no right to collectively bargain working conditions and if compensation does not remain competitive with other demanding professions, the profession will be unattractive to large numbers of the best and brightest students coming out of high schools and colleges and we will soon have even fewer many highly effective teachers in our classrooms. o Talking Points: Granted the best and brightest students who go into other professions—medicine, law, and engineering for example—generally only receive rights gratuitously granted them by their employers and aren’t guaranteed much in due process when it comes to job retention. But, they tend to be paid a lot more than teachers are paid and have potential incomes many times greater than the current potential income of teachers. To attract some of these best and the brightest students to train for and enter the teaching profession, teachers either need salaries on par with those other professions or need more rights and job security to compensate them for having less earning potential.Association Recognition: The school corporation would no longer have to recognize one exclusiverepresentative chosen by the majority of teachers. It could recognize any number of “associations” or none at rd thall, e.g. 3 grade teachers might be told to form their own association; 4 grade teachers theirs, and so on ornot, depending on what the school corporation unilaterally wants to do. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Why don’t we allow any group of voters to select their own governor and legislators and send them all to Indianapolis to work things out? Everyone would be happy that they have someone there who will listen to them but the likelihood that good laws would be made would be slim to none. Since it’s not likely we’ll do that, why don’t we continue to use the democratic (with a small “d”) model to allow the majority of teachers to determine who will speak for it and then recognize the majority will. If a sub-category of teachers do not like who speaks for them, they can use the democratic process to unseat one exclusive teachers’ representative and replace it with another or with no group at all, as is already provided for in the current law.Association President: If the Association president is given leave time during his/her term of office, he/she isnot guaranteed reinstatement to a teaching position at the end of the term of office and if allowed reinstatement,must forfeit all seniority rights and be considered on a temporary contract. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Since it will be up to a local school board as to whether or not it grants leave to an Association president, it only makes sense that it should have the discretion (and local control) to determine under what conditions that leave will be granted.Professional Advancement: Successful teachers who leave the classroom to take administrative jobs andlose their administrative jobs may not be allowed to return to teaching. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: We can all agree that not only do we want highly effective teachers in classrooms, but that we also want highly effective principals, directors, supervisors, superintendents, etc. It is highly unlikely that a teacher will be selected to move into an administrative position unless that teacher has already established him/herself as a highly effective teacher. It could turn out that this teacher doesn’t cut it as an administrator. If such teachers aren’t likely to get their teaching jobs back if they fail as administrators, why would they want to try to be administrators? If they’ve done something as an administrator that would also have cost them their job as a teacher, that’s fine. But, if they just didn’t cut it, let them go back to the classroom where we know they will be good for students.Temporary and Substitute Teachers: If a teacher is in place through the use of grant money, the teacher willbe considered on a temporary contract and will automatically lose his/her job when the grant money runs out.Title I teaches will fall into this category. These teachers will not be entitled to regular teacher pay even afterserving in an assignment for 15 days as is currently the law. Apparently a temporary contract teacher could bepaid substitute teacher pay and given no fringe benefits for the whole school year. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Every school corporation will determine what it believes a classroom teacher should be paid for doing that job. When a substitute teacher begins an assignment, he/she normally is not doing the job of a regular classroom teacher, e.g. a substitute teacher initially is probably using the regular teacher’s lesson plans and not grading papers. The longer the substitute teacher is in a given position, the more likely it is that he/she is doing a regular teacher’s job. It has pretty much been accepted that th that occurs by the 16 day. At that point the substitute teacher has been going on regular teacher pay and that’s how it should remain. Otherwise, why would someone want to accept a long term assignment meaning that students could experience a revolving door of teachers. That can’t be good for the students. o Talking Point: Temporary Contract teachers generally assume the full responsibility of a regular classroom teacher as of day one. It’s understandable that they might not be guaranteed continued 3
  4. 4. employment since the nature of the assignment is to serve in the place of a regular contracted teacher on long term leave, but to not pay them a regular teacher’s salary and benefits is not right.Collective Bargaining Agreements: All current collective bargaining agreements could end as early as August1, 2011 and in any event will almost certainly be deemed void by no later than July 1, 2012. The schoolcorporation will not have to honor any of the status quo when a collective bargaining agreement expires. If alocal association’s current collective bargaining agreement has expired and the corporation is operating onstatus quo, the status quo may be unilaterally terminated by the school corporation by its giving just 30 daysnotice. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: It might be reasonable to make it easier for school corporations to end status quo on certain provisions of collective bargaining agreements by showing how doing so would be in the best interests of the students and public, but to let them do away with status quo on all provisions of an agreement unilaterally and without showing need could so unbalance the work environment for teachers that we would see fewer and fewer highly qualified individuals coming into or staying in the profession at a time when, for the good of the students, we need to be attracting the most highly qualified people we can to come into the teaching profession.Restricted Collective Bargaining: Even if a school corporation is willing to negotiate a contract with theteachers’ association, the parties will only be allowed to bargain salaries and salary-related fringe benefits suchas health insurance. A collective bargaining agreement may not extend for more than two years. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: What ever happen to the value conservatives have always placed on the question of local control. We do not readily accept the Federal government telling the Indiana government what it can and can’t do when it comes to the people it employs. What is so different that it’s OK for the state to tell locally elected school boards, directly answerable to the tax payers in their school corporations, what they can or can’t do in their relationship with the teachers they hire? o Talking Point: Collective bargaining states generally have higher test scores and higher median incomes. Massachusetts is one of the most collective bargaining dense states in our country. Yet, year in and year out, Massachusetts’ public schools rank at or near the best in the country. o Talking Point: Under Indiana’s collective bargaining law, teacher strikes are illegal. School boards are not required to accept any proposal the teachers make. We don’t even have that many school corporations relying on the law’s impasse proceedings to reach an agreement with their teachers. Why then would Indiana be better off effectively eliminating this practice that has contributed so much to the stability of school board-school teachers’ relations?Unilateral Imposition of Collective Bargaining Agreements: The school corporation doesn’t have to agree toany Association proposal or even make counterproposals. After a short bargaining period, if the Associationhasn’t indicated it will settle on terms acceptable to the school corporation, the school corporation mayunilaterally implement its own proposal, which could mean drastic cuts in salary and reductions in salary relatedfringe benefits (all other negotiated provisions between the parties would already have been made moot by thenew law). (HB 1337) o Talking Point: If we accept that it’s OK for the state to tell a school board it must negotiate salary and salary related benefits with their teachers, shouldn’t we also insist that the negotiations be at arm’s length? To require such bargaining but to give the school corporation the right to just sit on a proposal and at a time certain adopt it is to make a mockery of the collective bargaining process. o Talking Point: If we accept that school corporations must collectively bargain salary and salary related benefits, we should put the parties at arm’s length by allowing them, at a point certain with no agreement reached, to take their positions and arguments to a neutral third party who would then determine which position would be adopted. By knowing that a neutral third party will impose a condition if the parties can’t agree on a compromise, forces both the school board and the teachers to be more reasonable in the positions they take. This would bring about more settlements and less controversy in regard to the end products.The End of Statutory Discussion: the bill will end the employer’s requirement to hold discussion with teachersand will eliminate any legal right to teachers have to input in regard to changes in or additions to their workingconditions. In cases where the administration does invite teachers to discuss working conditions with it will beup to the administration to determine who it will let come to discussion. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Currently statutory discussion only requires the school corporation to discuss contemplated changes in teachers’ working conditions, so that teachers may give input on the contemplated changes before the school corporation makes its final decision. It does not require the school corporation to agree to any input the teachers offers. It allows the school corporation to unilaterally implement whatever conclusion it reaches. What’s wrong with that? 4
  5. 5. o Talking Point: Since most conditions that affect the work of teachers directly or indirectly affects the education of students and since teachers are closest to the students and, arguable, know as much or more about what is good for students as do the administrators, what sense is there in not requiring administrators to discuss contemplated working condition changes with teachers before implementing them?Grievances: Teachers will only be able to file grievances regarding questions of not being paid in accordancewith the negotiated salary standards or if they are not receiving what they are entitled to under the negotiatedinsurance benefits provisions. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Grievances give teaches a chance to call attention to actions or events that appear to violate school board policy. They are done in a professional setting and afford the teachers some assurance that they will not suffer reprisals for having concerns. Since the policy being grieved has been adopted by the school board, doesn’t it make sense that the school board would want its administration to remedy any misapplication of the policies and if that doesn’t happen, to be given a chance to remedy the situation itself?Unfair Practice Complaints: Rather than remaining an independent body to hear and decide complaints that aschool corporation has done something against the collective bargaining law, the Indiana EducatorsEmployment Relations Board (IEERB) will come under the authority of State Superintendent of Schools TonyBennett. Bennett will have final and absolute say as to whether an unfair practice has been committed. Hisdecisions will not be appealable into court, as may be done with current IEERB decisions. On the other hand,since collective bargaining will be limited to just negotiating salary and salary related fringe benefits, thereprobably won’t be too many unfair practice complaints filed. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: Right now, a board determines the outcome of unfair practice complaints, not one individual. Placing so much power in the hands of one individual opens the door to arbitrary and capricious rulings. When the state superintendent is “pro-administration” unfair complaints might tend to always favor the administration. With one election, there could be a “pro-teacher” state superintendent elected and the favor would switch. Wouldn’t it be better to continue to use a multi-person board as the final arbitrator of complaints elected to staggered terms so that the board would always have some consistency to its make up? o Talking Point: If the board or as this bill appears to do, just the state superintendent of school has final say in determining the outcome of unfair complaints, without regard as to what a higher authority might think, the outcomes could become arbitrary and capricious. If the deciding board or state superintendent knows that the decision is subject to appeal, say into the courts, wouldn’t it or he be more inclined to make a well considered and reasoned decision? And isn’t that what everyone would want—well considered and reasoned decisions?Test Scores and Teachers’ Pay: A significant part of a teacher’s salary, raise, and increments would be basedon student performance as determined by standardized test scores regardless of any mitigating factors such ascommunity demographics. (HB 1337) and (HB 1488) o Talking Point: Teachers do not object to test scores being one factor in determining their performance ratings, some of their salary, or even their job security. Teaches do object to too much emphasis being put on standardized student test scores because if there is one thing for certain, teachers do not deal with factory produced, standardized types of students. Why not let the administrators, who are trained and experienced in bringing out the best practices of teachers and dealing with teachers who are not successful continue to have the discretion to give weight to the numerous criteria they use and to the degree they feel it best to give that weight when they evaluate their teachers? o Talking Point: Using test scores or worse, subjective measures, to determine the merit of a teacher and then base a teacher’s pay on these criteria makes sense if every teacher deemed worthy of having a job is already receiving professional level salaries and the merit question only goes to who deserves to be paid more. Until teachers’ base pay is such that the time and expense they put into becoming licensed and to growing better is fairly compensated, there is no place for merit pay. o Talking Point: Right now, teachers work collaboratively and in a collegial setting with the best interests of their students in mind. How will competition for salary placement between and among teaching staffs increase “sharing” of ideas and cooperation among staff?Association Representation: Teachers being disciplined, fired, or just wanting someone to be with them whenmeeting with the administration would have no right to Association representation. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: When an administrator wishes to deal with a teacher in regard to performance or questionable activity, having an Association representative present more often than not is as beneficial to the administration as it is the teacher. For example, if the administrator makes a good case in front of 5
  6. 6. a teacher inclined to deny the proof of that case and no one else was there to hear it, a problem could become more difficult to resolve. If an Association representative hears the administrator’s case, he can mitigate the circumstances by advising the teacher to get busy resolving the problem the administrator cites. o Talking Point: Teachers spend years and thousands of dollars preparing to enter the profession. Once they have been hired, their future may well be decided in one action on the part of the administration to discipline or fire them. How can we not agree that in the face of this, a teacher should have the right to ask for Association assistance in defending him/herself against the charges that could end his/her teaching career?Deghoster Formula: The deghoster formula that has created controversy in how it affects growing schoolcorporations will be eliminated so public school corporations need no longer fear being played one against theother….They will all lose! Charter school support from the state will go up 30% for 2011 alone, even whilealmost all regular school corporations are likely to see their per pupil state funding cut or reduced relative tostudent growth or loss. (Bill Number Not Known at this Writing) o Talking Point: There are good reasons to come up with a way to mitigate the long-term negative effect the deghoster formula has had on growing school corporations without throwing declining enrollment school corporations into financial disaster. To just do away with the deghoster while diverting unprecedented amounts of limited state funds into charter schools and, with vouchers, even to private for-profit schools just doesn’t make sense. o Talking Point: Shouldn’t we be spending more time on finding an answer to the deghoster formula controversy that best meets the short and long term interests of both growing enrollment school corporations and declining enrollment school corporations and less time on how we can bleed critically needed state funding support from both types of school corporations?School Funding Formula: In place of the objective, if arguably sometimes unfair to growing schoolcorporations, state funding formula, will be funding based on the arbitrary and unilateral determinations of theDepartment of Education, i.e. Tony Bennett. (Bill Number Not Known at this Writing) o Talking Point: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We need as objective and fair state funding formula as multiple minds and parties of interest can cooperatively develop. To put in one hand the final decision making on where and how the state will allocate monies for Indiana’s school children falls outside the bounds of reason.School Budget & Collectively Bargaining: The corporation may not have a contract in place (negotiated orwith an individual teacher) that would contribute to a budget deficit. So, if the school corporation andAssociation negotiated a salary settlement based on the corporation’s current budget and financial condition, ifthe State thought the settlement was too generous, it could withhold funds, throwing the corporation into adeficit budget automatically voiding the local salary settlement, right in the middle of a school year. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: It’s reasonable to restrict the funds a school corporation may commit to teachers’ salaries based on its adopted budget, but to force it to renege on the agreement because the state can arbitrarily turn around and throw that budget into the red falls outside the realm of reason. o Talking Point: Any time the state is inclined to reduce state funding after already setting it, it should have to show good cause for doing so before an unbiased third party, e.g. the state supreme court.Staffing to Reduce Class Size: Likewise, if the local school corporation found money in its budget to hire a fewmore teachers to reduce class size and the State felt it shouldn’t have done that, the State can withhold funds,throw the corporation into a budget deficit situation and the new teachers’ contracts (plus maybe additionalteachers’ contracts would automatically be void right then, even if it is in the middle of the school year. (HB1337) o Talking Point: As above, its reasonable to require a school corporation to conform the cost of staffing to its adopted budget, but it is not reasonable for the state to be able to arbitrarily throw the school corporation’s budget into the red and force it to change staffing in the middle of a school year. o Talking Point: (see second Talking Point under School Budget & Collectively Bargained Salaries).Charter Schools: The number of chartered schools will be markedly increased with tax dollars currently goingto regular public schools being diverted to the chartered schools. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Why is there such a push to expend limited tax dollars on charter schools when data clearly shows that very few charter schools perform on par with public schools? o Talking Point: Why are we making it so easy to create many new charter schools without first creating standards that will make the charter schools as accountable for student achievement as we have made regular public schools? 6
  7. 7. Private Schools & Vouchers: Tax dollars will be taken from public schools and given to the parents to carry toschools of their choice, not just other public schools, meaning tax dollars will be supporting private-for profitenterprises. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Public school boards and public school administrators are not being driven by a desire to make a profit at the expense of tax payers. They are being driven because they want the students in their school corporations to have great success in school. Do we really think for-profit managers will have the best interests of students at heart?Forced Leasing of Public School Buildings: If a school corporation is “underutilizing” one of its schoolbuildings, a charter school may elect to lease it from the public school for $1 per year for no less than 20 years.The charter school may choose to extend the lease for another 20 years whether or not the school corporationsubsequently would need the building for its own students. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Some public school corporations plan ahead and are able to construct new school buildings ahead of their growing student populations. With this bill, these public school corporations would be punished because they wouldn’t have a school building ready when their student population creates that need. o Talking Point: Some declining school corporations prefer to retain buildings they presently do not need as that will be less costly to tax payers in the long run than having to build new buildings to accommodate a renewed growth in student populations. With this bill, local school corporations will no longer be able to make this decision.State Control/Receivership: State Superintendent Bennett will have unprecedented control over local schoolcorporations’ policy making, budgets, employment practices, etc. (HB 1337) o Talking Point: So much control; so much power. Will we ignore the saying: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely?” o Talking Point: Any decision of the state superintendent should be reviewable and reversible by higher authority lest one person does irreversible damage to our schools and/or our students.Mortgaging Leased Public Schools: Once a charter school has forced a public school to lease a building to it,the charter school is allowed to mortgage the building and use the money it gets as it chooses. It would appearthat if the school reverts to the school corporation at the end of the first or second 20 year period, the schoolcorporation would be stuck with the charter school’s mortgage. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Where is the sense in letting charter schools, especially for-profit charter schools, make money by using the true value of a building they only have to pay $1 per year to use for their own purposes? Shouldn’t any question of mortgaging the school be at the discretion of the public school corporation that owns it? o Talking Point: In private sector renting arrangements, this is the equivalent of an apartment renter being able to mortgage the landlord’s property.Maintaining Leased Public Schools: The school corporation must maintain the buildings it is forced to leaseto charter schools, even for-profit charter schools, using tax payer money for this maintenance. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Surely if the charter school is only having to pay $1 per year to lease a building, it can afford and should have to maintain the building itself.Charter Schools’ Right to Buy Public School Buildings: Alternatively, if an “underutilized” building has debt,even if that debt is but a small percentage of the value of the building and land it is on, a charter school cancome in and demand that the school corporation sell the building and land to the charter school for the amountof the indebtedness. ?If a school corporation tries to sell one of its buildings to another party (city, township,etc.), a charter school may step in and demand to buy the building for the same price it would have been sold tothe other party (right of first refusal). (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Think of how may public school buildings built 15 or 20 years ago are still being paid off but are worth many times what the remaining debt on them is. Why should a charter school, especially a for-profit charter school be able to take advantage of the tax payers’ efforts to pay off school construction over a long period of time? o Talking Point: Shouldn’t the local school board have the discretion to sell a building it no longer uses to an entity that it feels will make the sale in the best interests of the school corporation? For example, what if the local school board feels it important and desirable to sell a building to the city to become a senior citizens center? Only the school board is in a position if the “good will” value of such an action makes the sale worthwhile. 7
  8. 8. Health and Other Insurance Plans: A formula will be in place that will force many, perhaps most or all schoolcorporations to not only pay more than the amount of dollars the state pays for its employees’ insurancepremiums but to place their employees into the state health insurance plan or a consortium with other schoolcorporations even when it costs more and provides less benefits than what their current plans do. CharterSchools will have no choice. They must put their employees in the State plan. (HB 1260) o Talking Point: Many local school boards, even those from smaller school corporations, are able to do quite well for the school corporation and its employees by securing an insurance program from the vendor of its choice. Isn’t coercing, if not outright forcing these school corporations to go into a state dictated program just another form of Socialism that the Republican Party generally, and social conservatives specifically have been criticizing at the Federal level for upwards of 70 years?Penalty for Public School Corporations Choosing to Provide Better Insurance for their Employees: If apublic school corporation stays out of the state plan, it must pay the state an amount equal to the amount ofmoney it spends on employees’ insurance in excess of what it would pay if it was in the state plan. Note: Ourresearch would indicate that of the 200+ school corporations in Indiana, only 5 of them are currently using thestate health insurance plan. (HB 1260) o Talking Point: This is nothing more than the same kind of forced socialism that is so objectionable to most conservatives when progressives and liberals promote it.Charter School Board: A charter school board will be formed with the governor appointing three members anda state superintendent appointing for members. This board will have the power to award charter schoolfranchises to third parties such as for profit companies or even create them itself. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: It’s one thing—a positive thing—to make sure charter schools and private schools can be competitive with public schools so that all concerned will find it necessary to continually strive for perfection. It’s quite another thing for the playing field to be so tilted against regular public schools by having so many tax dollars diverted to charter schools that the public schools cannot maintain, let along improve the programs they offer. Giving a politically appointed board, answerable only to the governor and the state superintendent, not the tax payers directly, is just another way to tilt the playing field even more against struggling public schools. o Talking Point: Governor Daniels has asserted for years that Indiana has too many small school corporations disproportionately consuming limited tax dollars. It that is so, what sense is there in not only making it easy to do but to actually be promoting the creation of dozens, perhaps hundreds of min- school corporations in the form of charter schools?Transfer Students: Parents will be able to transfer their children to any charter school in the state and thebasic tuition support and transportation expenses will be billed back to the original school district. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: (See Charter School Board Talking Point)Virtual Charter Schools: There will be no restriction to the number of virtual charter schools. Virtual charterschools will get 90¢ on the dollar of the average state tuition support for every student. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: (See Charter School Board Talking Point)State Tuition Support for All Public School Corporations: State tuition support for all public schoolcorporations will be reduced because funds for charter schools will come directly from tax dollars that wouldotherwise go to the regular public schools. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: (See Charter School Board Talking Point)Charter School Funding: The state’s funding of charter schools will decrease the state tuition support for allschool corporations since the money given to charter schools is taken out of state funds before they areallocated to regular public schools. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Even highly successful public school corporations will suffer because they will be losing much need state funding support that is taken from them to go to charter schools, even for profit charter schools.Charter School Credits: Regular public schools will have to give full academic credit to any and allcharter school students who subsequently transfer back into regular public schools regardless of whether ornot the charter school can validate the credit worthiness of the academics it taught. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: When charter schools are required to play by the same academic rules and meet the same educational standards regular public schools must use, e.g. all teachers must be fully licensed in a regular public school and up to 50% of the teachers in a charter school do not, then credits charter 8
  9. 9. schools give students would be acceptable at face value. Until then, in these circumstances, the regular public schools should have the discretion to determine credits for students transferring in from charter schools as they deem most appropriate. Converting Regular Schools to Charter Schools. A school board by a 51% vote of its electorate must convert a regular school to a non-profit charter school without regard for input from administrators or teachers. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: Some attendance areas of public schools experience large turnovers in residents, including their students. It should take more than a simple majority of voters to convert a school so that the outcome is clearly one that should remain popular for a long period of time—say at least 20 years since that’s how long the charter schools can lease public school buildings. Using the Common School Fund to Pay Off Debt: Currently, regular schools can only use a portion of the common school fund to pay of their debts. Charter schools will be able to use the common school fund to pay off their entire debt. (HB 1002) o Talking Point: This lets charter schools go into debt, use the money ineffectively, and still rely on tax payers to pay off all the debt they incurred. What kind of good business policy is that?Final Note: This paper was developed in regard to how bills appeared or promised to appear during its preparation. Asyou know, bills are subject to amendment and revision so the issues are somewhat like moving targets and the talkingpoints are arrows. Before you begin talking with legislators, parents, fellow professionals, or community members, youshould take the time to access the ISTA website and follow the links to the most current legislative updates and reportsit contains. Our lobbyists are much better able to stay up to day on the bills than are my fellow UniServ Directors and Iwho, as much as we would like to, cannot dedicate our entire time to keeping track of what the legislature is doing orhas done. Respectfully submitted, Rich Rich Frankhouser ISTA Unit 2-G UniServ Director 9