To the editor:
I am writing this letter to bring to light two bills in the current legislative process, House Bill 1005 and Senate Bill 412, with the hopes that you will reach out to your local legislators as I have and urge them to vote NO. Both will have large negative impacts on public education.
I'm sure, like me, at the outset of hearing Gov. Holcomb's ideas of what he thought the next biennium budget should look like, many people were pleasantly surprised and maybe even excited to hear of more dollars to education. On the heels of the Next Generation Teacher Compensation report, this was great news and after the year of uncertainty we just endured, anything short of a decline in funding was going to feel like a win.
However, with state legislators back in session and proposing the language in HB 1005 and SB 412, it feels like a slap in the face to public education. These bills create massive new increases to non-public education and a new taxpayer-funded debit card loaded with $5,000-$7,000 per child for families to shop the private education market for their own services.
I'm sure when the general public hears "more money to education" their mind does not first go to ... $202M of the $227M mentioned by Gov. Holcomb, headed to vouchers and education savings accounts, instead of in the pockets of public school teachers, enhancing educational opportunities and making the schools of 90% (the number attending public school) of our state's children better. Their minds do not go to the creation of a taxpayer-funded debit card for families to shop the private education market and spend this money with little to no accountability.
Nor do they think of the idea of providing a voucher to a family making $170,274 (more than twice the median family income in Indiana and 300% of the amount to qualify for reduced price school meals) so they can send their child to a private school. If that family chooses to send their child to a private school instead of choosing one of this state's great public schools, shouldn’t their choice come with a price tag for their family, not for the taxpayers of Indiana and certainly not at the expense of dollars withheld from public education?
If you support additional pay in the pockets of public education teachers as the recent report warrants and if you support transparency and accountability of taxpayer dollars which happens with the reporting and auditing of a public school, I hope you will contact your local legislator and urge them to vote no.
Rep. Ben Smaltz — firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Dennis Kruse — email@example.com
Sen. Sue Glick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Father of four very successful publicly educated children,
DeKalb Central Schools