Friday, December 30, 2005
Per the session information website:
Student health measurements. Requires each school corporation to report certain student health data to the state department of health beginning in 2007. Requires the state department to publish an annual report summarizing the data. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the health finance commission).
This idiotic Bill will require EVERY school corporation to annually report to the state department of health the height, weight, ethnicity, age, and sex of the school corporation's students.
This is another stupid idea that will only further increase our property taxes.
This Bill was written by Senator Dillon from Columbia City. He is a Republican. This is a great example of how out of touch the Republcian Party is with its smaller government stance of 1994...
This bill will:
Miscellaneous election law matters. Provides that the fee a person must pay to receive a complete compilation of voter registration information contained in the statewide voter registration list is an annual fee and includes the price for receiving updates of voter registration information throughout the year. Provides that an election official may not receive an election law filing that is offered to be filed after a deadline for the filing unless election law provides for the filing after the deadline. Provides that a vacancy in a legislative office last held by an individual who was not a member of a major political party shall be filled in a special election. Requires the county executive to file a copy of an approved precinct establishment order with the county auditor. Provides that a precinct establishment order issued after June 30, 2005, complies with certain polling place accessibility requirements if the order: (1) includes a statement that the precinct meets the requirements; or (2) states that before April 1, 2006, the county will designate a polling place for the precinct that meets the requirements. Conforms statutes to recognize the requirement in current law for electronic transmittal of data between license branches and the statewide voter registration list. Removes or repeals expired, superseded, or obsolete provisions of election law. Corrects erroneous cross-references. Makes technical changes. Updates election schedules. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the census data advisory committee.)
This Bill only has one objectionable portion. The objectionable portion is “Provides that a vacancy in a legislative office last held by an individual who was not a member of a major political party shall be filled in a special election.” What this means is if a vacancy occurs in an office that a Democrat or Republican holds, the Democratic or Republican Party will appoint a person of their choice to fill the seat. If a Libertarian (Or other Third Party) candidate holds an office and a vacancy occurs there will be a special election.
This is of course patently unfair. What is good for one party should be good for all.
Per the online session information this misguided Senate Bill will make it so that:
Provides that a person may not be required, as a condition of training, employment, pay, promotion, or privileges, to dispense: (1) a medical device or drug that may result in an abortion; or (2) a birth control device or medication.
This Bill came about because a few pharmacists feel that they should be allowed to pick and choose which drugs and devices they dispense.
I understand that some pharmacists have religious convictions that may cause them to believe that abortion and birth control are wrong. We all have our own opinions and I respect other people’s opinions.
Pharmacists should dispense the drugs and devices that are prescribed by Doctors. That is the job of a pharmacist, PERIOD.
If I owned a pharmacy and one of my pharmacists refused to issue birth control pills to one of our customers, I would fire the pharmacist. Senate Bill 0004 would make it so the pharmacist could not be fired in the above situation.
Imagine this situation if you would. Let’s say a Doctor prescribes birth control pills to a woman to help her regulate her period so she can get pregnant. Can you imagine this woman going to a pharmacy to fill this prescription and having a pharmacist refuse to fill the prescription? I imagine the woman in question would have a strong reaction against the pharmacist and the pharmacy. I would not blame her.
Imagine this situation if you would. Let’s say a group of people who are against abortion and birth control decide to all apply for jobs at Planned Parenthood. Let’s assume that some of these people get hired by Planned Parenthood. Does that mean these new employees can refuse to assist people who want to obtain an abortion or birth control devices?
We need less government regulation. Regulation is driving up the costs of everything. This Bill needs to die a painful death.
This misguided Senate Bill was written by Senator Drozda.
Chairman of the Libertarian party of Allen County
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Per the Session information provided on the Indiana website SB 0003 will:
Establish standards for a mobile camp provided by a railroad company for maintenance of way employees.
This is another example of how out of control and out of touch the Indiana government is. There is no reason that the this bill should exist.
This bill changes the rules that dictate what kind of shelter and facilities the railroad must provide to its maintenance employees when they are at a temporary location. This bill specifies wash basins and all kinds of other things. The Indiana government has much larger issues to dea with.
Let the railroads and their employees figure this out without government involvement.
Let’s pay off Indiana’s shameful and unconstitutional debt, let’s pay off the local payments that were deferred, and let’s fix real problems in the State!
Senator Drozda should be ashamed of himself.
Per the Session information provided on the Indiana website SB 0002 will:
Permit a sheriff or the Indianapolis police chief to visit the listed residence of a sex offender to determine if the sex offender resides at the residence. Prohibits a sex offender who is required to register for life with the sex offender registry after June 30, 2006, from residing within 1,000 feet of school property or from establishing a new residence within one mile of the residence of the victim. Makes it a Class D felony to rent matter that is harmful to a minor within 500 feet of a school or church.
I really do not like sex offenders and I want to see them spend long time periods in prison. This Bill will only effect a grand total of 48 registered violent sex offenders that are currently residing in Indiana.
I tend to think this Bill is being passed just to allow our beloved politicians to pass another law so that they can run home this Spring and tell their constituents how much safer their children are…
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
According to the Indiana Bureau of Education 91% of all Hoosier children are enrolled in public schools, 7% are enrolled in private schools, and 2% are being home schooled during the 2005-2006 school year.
Stats Indiana tracks school enrollment data county by county; the most recent data they have is for the 2004-2005 school year. Stats Indiana excludes home schooled children from its database. 34.6% of all children in Allen County are enrolled in private schools!
If you include children who are home schooled in these statistics then fewer then 64% of all children in Allen County are attending Public Schools; in fact, Allen County has the highest percentage of children enrolled in private schools in the entire state. Allen County has 5.4% of the total population of Indiana. Allen County has 21.3% of all children enrolled in Private schools in Indiana.
I believe that parental involvement is the key to a successful public education system. I often hear that we do not have enough parental involvement in our local schools. I find that statement to be completely untrue, at least in Allen County.
34.6% of all children in Allen County are enrolled by their parents in Private Schools. These parents spend their hard earned money to pay both their property taxes (to fund Public Schools) and these same parents pay fees to the Private schools their children attend. These parents feel that their children can get a better education in Private schools then Public schools. I think it is obvious that this shows a great deal of parental concern and involvement in their child’s education.
2% of all children in Allen County are Home Schooled by their parents. These parents pay property taxes to fund the Public School system and they spend a great deal of their own time and money to educate their children themselves. These parents are extremely concerned with their children’s education.
I think that these statistics demonstrate that a large number of parents in Allen County care deeply about the education of their children. I attended Public Schools in Allen County. I know that many parents of Public School children also care deeply about the education of their children. I think that parents in Allen County should be given a great deal of credit.
For some reason that I cannot fathom our Public Education system insists that the only way to improve our school system is to spend increasing amounts of money on education every year. Per the Indiana Department of Education’s website we are spending twice as much money per student as we were spending twenty five years ago. This statistic takes into account for and adjusts for inflation.
Spending more money every year is not the way to improve our Public School system.
Property taxes are increasing at an alarming pace all across Allen County. In Perry Township, our property taxes increased on average 63% last year. The final numbers are not in yet for this year; however, I am estimating that our property taxes will be increasing another 18% in Perry Township this year.
I am a product of the Public School system. My children will attend public schools in Northwest Allen County. I will do my best to help improve the Northwest Allen County School District. We have great teachers and we need to let them spend their time teaching students instead of following silly regulations dictated by Indianapolis and Washington D.C.
I have decided to run for The Northwest Allen County School Board in 2006. I want my children to receive a good education at a price that the property tax payers can afford. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 260-338-0833 or by email at Mike.Sylvester@Verizon.net if you would like to learn more about my campaign for School Board.
President of The Valley Place Homeowner’s Association
Candidate for Northwest Allen County School Board in 2006
Monday, December 26, 2005
First of all the bill is needlessly complex and should be simplified! This is true of every bill these lawyers (Legislators) pass. I had to spend over an hour reading the bill to understand what it proposes to do.
The State of Indiana makes most of the child welfare rules, many of the employees are State employees, and the State of Indiana should be the one to pay for all of these rules and bureaucracy they are creating. The Child Welfare levies are a good example of a State mandate that should be funded by the State.
I am not a lawyer and I may have mis-read part of the bill. Here is what I think it is trying to do:
House Bill 1001 is an attempt to TEMPORARILY transfer the child welfare levies in Indiana from the local governments (Property Taxes) to the State of Indiana starting July 1st 2006 through December 31st 2009. Starting Jan 1st 2010 the bill then forces local governments to once again fund these State programs through means other then property taxes. (Only the government and our current politicians could come up with a scheme like this. This program should be funded be the State forever!)
In the first HALF of 2006 and all of 2007 all residential and agricultural property would not be forced to pay the child welfare levies, instead the State would pay it.
In 2008 the remainder of all agricultural property would no longer have to pay these levies through property taxes; instead the State would pay it.
In 2009 50% of the levies would no longer be paid on all other property, instead the State would pay that 50%.
The next part of the law is the stupid part of this law that only politicians could come up with. Starting Jan 1st 2010 the State will STOP funding the Child Welfare Levies and the counties and local governments will start funding it again. The counties and local governments will have to again fund the levies using a portion of current local revenues from the Financial Institutions Tax (An 8.5% income tax on many financial institutions) and County Motor Vehicle Excise Tax.
What the State SHOULD do is The State should fund the Child Welfare levies themselves!
Remember back in 2002 when The State raised the Sales tax to 6% from 5% to reduce property taxes? I remember it. I hope you all remember it and vote ALL current officials out of office and vote in some new ones. If they do not fix it then vote them out of office.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
The Bureau of The Public Debt is charged with keeping track of the current financial obligations of the Federal Government.
According to The Bureau of The Public Debt:
Date Total Debt
6/30/1952 259,105,178,785 (259 Billion Dollars)
12/31/1974 492,665,000,000 (493 Billion Dollars)
12/31/1981 1,028,729,000,000 (1.03 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/1983 2,125,302,616,658 (2.13 Trillion Dollars)
9/28/1990 3,233,313,451,777 (3.23 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/1992 4,064,620,655,521 (4.06 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/1996 5,224,810,939,135 (5.22 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/2002 6,228,235,965,597 (6.23 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/2004 7,379,052,696,330 (7.38 Trillion Dollars)
9/30/2005 7,932,709,661,723 (7.92 Trillion Dollars)
The debt is increasing every year by record amounts. The third largest line item in The Federal Budget is interest on The Federal debt!
Yet they keep spending, and spending, and spending...
They will not stop until we vote all of them out of office!!!
Friday, December 23, 2005
The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council is fed up with the inability of The City of Fort Wayne and Allen County to get along and to consolidate and reduce the size of government. The Council submitted a shockingly frank editorial this week that basically states how the Council is tired of all the arguing and how they want The City of Fort Wayne and Allen County to consolidate some services and to shrink the size of government.
Furthermore, the Council is asking that "as a new election year appraoches, lets support only those candidates who commit to the efficient and effective use of tax dollars and then hold them accountable."
This is an exciting time to be a Libertarian in this region. The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council (A group of 41 prominent CEO's in this area) has told local officials that they need to shrink government and at the same time is suggesting that we only support those candidates willing to shrink government.
You can rest assured that I will contact this group and see if there is any way I can help them!
You can learn more about the Council at their website:
I have included the editorial published in The News-Sentinel below:
Posted on Wed, Dec. 21, 2005
The obstinance of local politicians impedes progress and stalls growth of our economy
What’s in a headline? “County Considers Evicting City After Renaissance Delay”
How about other headlines that have appeared this year?
“City/County Can’t Get Over Glass Wall”
“Can’t We Just Get Along”
“Sheriff’s Earnings Top $200,000”
“County Awaits City Office Plans”
“Consultant May Be Hired”
“There Is No Accounting For Space”
“Time Is Running Out”
We at the Northeast Indiana Corporate Council certainly agree with the last one – time is running out.
Who reads these headlines, anyway? Well, site selectors and consultants who advise clients on possible relocation sites do. The Northeast Indiana Corporate Council sees the inability of governments to work together as a serious roadblock to economic development and the unwillingness of many elected officials to seriously consider government cooperation – let alone consolidation – as a travesty.
We are paying a dear price for all of this bickering and almost no cooperation. We would like to see more headlines like “City-County Breakthrough,” which appeared when an agreement was reached in principle to have only one countywide homeland-security executive.
Instead of debating whether the city should move from the City-County Building into Lincoln Financial Group’s former Renaissance Square headquarters, they should be trying to consolidate and shrink the size of government as businesses have to do every day to survive. An initial study assumed a 10 percent growth in city government. We support the comments of County Council President Darren Vogt, who said, “I struggle to see the need for consistent growth in government. . . . Let’s step back and see what’s the financial impact.”
City Council President Tom Smith pointed out that if the city buys the Renaissance building, it will become tax-exempt, resulting in $400,000 to $500,000 in lost property taxes per year. Taxpayers, both business and individuals, must demand a simple accounting. Let’s see a simple comparison. On one side of the ledger, let’s list all of the properties owned and leased by the city and county. Then compare the financial change in total if the Renaissance building is acquired and other leases canceled or buildings sold. Let’s not forget all the additional move-related expenses.
We all pay county taxes, and, on Jan. 1, approximately 75 percent of us will also pay city taxes. The Renaissance move may very well be a shell game – moving our tax dollars from one government to the next. We all deserve to see how buying another city building for millions will save the taxpayer money. It’s likely the same “logic” that built several new fire stations for Fort Wayne to serve Aboite Township, where perfectly good facilities and equipment met the needs of the township. Who picks up the tab for the newfound overcapacity after annexation?
The Allen County Council showed prudence in rejecting the sheriff’s request to buy a warehouse for $750,000 to $850,000 and renovate it for another estimated $1.8 million. Let’s spend our tax dollars determining how to rationalize two local law enforcement agencies instead.
Indiana political columnist Brian Howey asked the question, “Will Indiana become an economic backwater? Or will it modernize its state, county and local governments?” All it takes is a review of Indiana’s largest employers to clearly see the problem:
U.S. government is No. 1 with 33,511
The state of Indiana is second with 13,868
Fort Wayne Community Schools ranks 22 with 4,158 employees
Fort Wayne and Allen County government employment combined reaches nearly 3,700
Contrast this with No. 8 General Motors at 10,826 and No. 12 Delphi at 6,540 and think about how they are fighting to survive.
We at the Northeast Indiana Corporate Council believe it is time for the Indiana General Assembly to allow local governments the ability to evaluate and enact a more effective and efficient form of local government structure. We will strongly encourage local government to rationalize existing redundancies and create a leadership structure that will stimulate economic growth.
Let’s hold local politicians to their word. On Jan. 26, 2004, in a joint resolution of the Fort Wayne City Council and the Allen County Council, local officials, including the three county commissioners and the city’s deputy mayor, signed a historic document. They all indicated support for the Indiana General Assembly examining local-government structure. Among other statements, it said, “The financial conditions of state government and most local units of government in Indiana dictate examining new, possibly more efficient approaches to providing public services. . . . The need to create and maintain a competitive tax climate that is supportive of the economic-development objectives of this state requires examining ways to improve local government structure and efficiency.” They also noted only eight other states have more units of local civic government – counties, cities and townships – than Indiana.
As a new election year approaches, let’s support only those candidates who commit to the efficient and effective use of tax dollars and then hold them accountable.
Written by Tom Miller, president of Lutheran Health Network; Bob Taylor, CEO of Do It Best Inc., and Northeast Indiana Corporate Council President Kirk Kemmish on behalf of the corporate council, a regional group of 41 CEOs whose mission is to promote the common business interests, growth, opportunity and general economic welfare for businesses in northeastern Indiana.
The winner was shrinking the size of government by putting it on a diet with 14 votes (40%).
2nd was a Statewide referendum so that the voters can choose one time zone for the state with 9 votes (26%).
Lowering property taxes was 3rd with 7 votes (20%).
Last was deleting some of Indiana's excess laws with 5 votes (14%).
I certainly would not have expected the time zone issue to be second place...
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
You can see for yourself at:
I am outraged to announce that our police are still being directed to conduct "Click-it-or-ticket" while many "criminals" are on the loose.
Talk about misplaced priorities...
So Homeland Security now has a watch list of books that includes at least one book on communism. If you check out a book on this watchlist you can be visited by Homeland Security agents.
I love my country; but, I no longer trust my government. They are slowly but surely expanding the power of government and eroding our civil liberties. This is outrageous.
What do you think?
Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book." Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program. The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said. The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further. "I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it." Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times. The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country. The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants. The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book. The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said. Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored. "My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said. Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless." Contact Aaron Nicodemus at firstname.lastname@example.org This story appeared on Page A9 of The Standard-Times on December 17, 2005.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The Winter Warmth program forced every NIPSCO customer to pay 50 cents per month into a fund NIPSCO could then use to help low-income families pay for gas. This was passed last year and only lasted for one year. (It was a temporary tax levied by NIPSCO not The State)
Now NIPSCO wants to exptend it for another year and make us all pay 65 cents per month.
I give to charity. I give what I want to the charities I choose. I do not want NIPSCO deciding where my charity money goes and how much I should give, the very idea is ABSURD and is un-American. NIPSCO should stop this "temporary tax" at once.
Comments can be emailed to
Please take the time to write them! We need to stop this program!
Monday, December 19, 2005
The meeting is in the back room of The Munchie Emporium at 622 E. Dupont & Coldwater -- Map. All are welcome.
7pm: Games and conversation.
8pm: Business meeting.
The Mike Downs Center and Leadership Fort Wayne is conducting a two day political boot camp for those who want to run for public office (Hopefully MANY of you) and those who want to work actively on a campaign (Hopefully even more of you).
This seminar will be held in The Omni Room in the City County Building. The seminar runs from 5 PM - 9 PM on both Jan 9th and Jan 23rd.
Those interested muist pay $25 and the registration deadline is Jan 5th. Register by:
Calling Andy Downs at 481-6691 OR
Calling Leadership Fort Wayne at 481-6112 OR
Mailing a check for $25 to Leadership Fort Wayne
2101 Coliseum Blvd E
Kettler Hall, Room 260
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Sunday, December 18, 2005
There were almost no San Diego fans at the game.
I really like the RCA Dome. It is an excellent facility. I still do not understand why the taxpayers are going to build a new one already; I think it is another case of misplaced priorities...
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Karena (The wife) is pretty darn excited. We are both Colts fans; but, she is a die hard, maniacal Colts fan...
My children have already been "corrupted" and are huge Colts fans as well...
Friday, December 16, 2005
I took the four highest scoring items from the last poll and they are the finalists.
What would you like to see done in the next legislative session in Indiana?
I thought the results were interesting considering the political affiliation of most of the readers of this blog. There are two results that I find especially interesting:
1. I am amazed that 20 people voted that we should have a statewide referendum and vote on one time zone for the entire state (Note I feel this way, I am just surprised how many of you feel this way).
2. I am extremely surprised that more people did not vote to expand gambling and to legalize "Cherry Masters." I would have expected these to get more votes.
The results are below:
Indiana government is too large, cut spending.
Lower my property taxes.
We have too many laws in Indiana, delete some.
We should legalize "Cherry Masters."
We should expand gambling in The State of Indiana.
We should crack down on "Cherry Masters," they are illegal!
We need to spend more money on education!
Raise taxes so that the State government can help those who need it most.
Smoking costs Hoosiers billions of dollars, we should make them pay higher taxes to purchase their cigarettes.
Mitch Daniels was right, we should impose a "temporary tax" of 1% on all income produced by Hoosier families who make more then $100,000 a year.
We should have a statewide referendum and choose one time zone for the entire state.
NIPSCO should be authorized to raise the heating bills of ALL Hoosiers even more so it can subsidize heating for the poor!
NIPSCO is already charging a tax to all HOOSIERS to help pay into a fund to subsidize poor Hoosiers heating bills, this should be revoked.
The state should pass bills that allow local governments more control.
Hoosier seat belt laws should be expanded!
Thursday, December 15, 2005
The overall student population (I am projecting 2005-2006) has grown by only 40% over that same time period.
What does that mean as far as property taxes? It means that the assessed value of the school district has grown OVER four times as fast as the student population over the last few years.
So my question is this, why on Earth did the School Board vote to ABOUT a 28% increase in their tax levy?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I have posted the most recent story as reported by The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette below:
Posted on Tue, Dec. 13, 2005
Woman, 3 children found dead in S. Calhoun St. homeBy Amanda IaconeThe Journal Gazette
Police found the bodies of a woman and three young girls in a South Calhoun Street home early Tuesday morning after receiving a report of suicide threats.
Fort Wayne officers arrived at 4122 S. Calhoun St. shortly after 5 a.m. and found a man standing on the front porch of the home. The man did not speak English, and police only knew that there was a problem inside, police said.
Officers entered the one-story gray house and found the bodies, and medics pronounced them dead at the scene.
The unnamed man was taken to police headquarters for questioning by a Spanish-speaking detective, police said. During the early portion of the interview, police learned some type of domestic dispute had occurred at the home, but police refused to confirm the relationship between the man in custody and the dead woman.
Neighbors said a man, his wife and three daughters lived in the house. The neighbors were not aware of any problems with the family, adding that two of the girls were too young to be attending school, while the oldest girl was elementary-school age.
At 10:15 a.m., police were still milling about outside the home and had not re-entered the home to continue their investigation. The crowd of interested onlookers continued to grow all morning.
No names had been released by 10:15 a.m.
The investigation was happening on South Calhoun Street less than a block south of the school bus stop where 10-year-old Alejandra Gutierrez was headed Thursday but never arrived. Despite the close proximity, police do not believe the Tuesday morning events have anything to do with the ongoing search for the missing girl.
Additional information, as it becomes available, will be posted at www.journalgazette.net later today.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Karen hit this one right on the nose. The State of Indiana currently imposes over 1300 pages of rules on all public school systems. The cost of complying with this pile of needless rules grows every year.
The Federal government also imposes a multitide of needless rules on all school districts as well.
If we were to eliminate just HALF of these rules I am sure the cost of education would decrease by a large amount.
Unfortunately, neither The Republican or Democratic Party's feel this way; instead, both parties keep passing new and needless rules... They just never seem to end.
Mandate mania Schools endure crushing demands on time, resources By Karen Francisco The Journal Gazette
When Indiana legislators convene next month, among the bills they will consider is one requiring school districts to weigh and measure each student for an annual report to the Indiana Department of Health.
Not a bad idea given the epidemic of childhood obesity, right?
But what won’t get weighed is the crushing burden of requirements already dumped on schools, including:
•Alcohol and drug prevention instruction.
•Visual screening tests.
•Mandatory moment of silence.
Each session of the Indiana General Assembly adds more to a volume of “Indiana School Laws and Rules,” which already exceeds 1,300 pages. More important, the volume of mandates encroaches on the ability of schools to meet their primary obligation to teach.
Superintendent Mark Stock of Wawasee Community Schools compares it to a plate at the church potluck.
“We’ve piled on all we can and the Styrofoam is about to break,” he said.
On his daily blogsite, “the Wawascene,” the superintendent noted the inevitable adoption of the body-mass index reporting requirement:
“Here we go again … another social need that is now being handed off to the public schools,” he wrote. “This bill will pass because it sounds harmless and helpful. It shouldn’t take too long to weigh, measure, record on spreadsheets and upload to the state every student in the school, should it? No place in this bill does it tell the teachers what previous state-mandated curriculum they are supposed to ignore while they implement the latest big fat mandate.”
Stock notes that the mandates continue to flow, regardless of who’s in power, because of the layers of political influence on public schools. When conservatives rule, the mandates are for mandatory recitation of the Pledge, display of the American flag, a moment of silence, intelligent design instruction; when liberals rule, the requirements cover different social issues.
Schools as labs
The mandates certainly aren’t unique to Indiana. Education consultant Jamie Vollmer traces the onerous requirements in a timeline: He includes – among many others – immunization and health requirements at the turn of the last century; vocational education, school lunches and physical education between 1920 and 1940; driver’s education and sex education in the ’50s; consumer education and Advanced Placement courses in the ’60s; character education and drug and alcohol abuse programs in the ’70s; child abuse monitoring, global education, keyboarding in the ’80s. … The list goes on and on.
In a Washington Post article published last month, author Noel Epstein argues that public schools have evolved into child-rearing institutions, or “something closer in that respect to the Israeli kibbutz, or commune.” They are expected to provide before- and after-school programs, breakfast and lunch. They are expected to keep kids off drugs, to discourage them from smoking and from joining gangs. They are expected to ensure kids are vaccinated and weapon-free.
“The hard part is, they are all good ideas,” said John Ellis, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “Mostly, they are good-minded people who come up with these. If you want a captive audience for your program, you look to the schools.”
Superintendent Stock recalled a community group that approached him with an instructional video for fourth-graders. It looks great, he told the group members. Then he offered to set up a meeting with the district’s fourth-grade teachers so the community group could help decide what should no longer be taught to make time for it. That wasn’t what the community members expected, of course.
“You would have to be a teacher to know the impact these requirements have on the classroom,” Stock said. “Everyone thinks, ‘it’s just going to take an hour,’ but they never want to take anything off the other end.”
The last legislative session saw a considerable number of education-related bills. One successful measure was a bullying- prevention bill authored by Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne. It doesn’t mandate the use of instructional time, but Ellis said the measure still has that effect in requiring school principals to tend to its administrative provisions – time that could be spent on instructional leadership.
Wyss defended the law as a much-needed recognition of the effect of bullying on student achievement, and said educators always resist such proposals.
“That’s the typical answer out of schools,” he said. “They always say they’ve got too much to do. What mandate is (the bullying law) to them? To cause them extra work?
“I completely understand what they are saying about taking time away from the students, but there are 160,000 kids in America who miss school every day because of bullying,” Wyss said. “All of those things that are so important to teach can’t happen if the kids aren’t there.”
For Stock, the fundamental question is what people want their public schools to do. He said surveys at Wawasee showed parents and community members want an emphasis on basic instruction.
“I think that is a big enough mission for schools,” he said. “You can’t be all things to all people.”
There are indications that the crush of mandates and requirements might have reached a tipping point. Ellis, of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, said that over the last year, four different groups were looking at ways to reduce the red tape and requirements imposed on Indiana schools. The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University is surveying superintendents on school regulations, and the information will be used in drafting a bill to address the proliferation of mandates.
In the 2006 legislative program by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Item No. 2 calls for “balancing mandates with time and funding.”
“Legislation to impose additional responsibilities on the public schools should focus on desired results without adding additional regulations and should include relief from already imposed statutes and regulations,” according to the group’s statement.
Stock would like to see the addition of a “curriculum impact statement.” It would require any legislative proposal dealing with schools to note how it would affect the existing curriculum. Ellis takes it even further, suggesting the impact should be determined in terms of Indiana’s academic standards.
Educators might find a sympathetic supporter in Gov. Mitch Daniels, who responded to a House Republican proposal to require the teaching of intelligent design by saying that his policy would be to “remove mandates from education to leave local school boards, principals and teachers more freedom.”
Author Epstein points to the efforts some states are making to separate academic instruction from the delivery of health and social services. The new model is School of the 21st Century, which originated with Yale University Professor Edward F. Zigler, the “father of Head Start.” It brings child care and family support services into the schools, but leaves the non-academic services to social workers, health professionals and others. Teachers are allowed to teach.
Kentucky and Connecticut have established Family Resource Centers based on the 21st Century model. More than 1,300 schools nationwide have implemented the concept, including a network of schools in Arkansas.
It’s an initiative Indiana policymakers should examine. Schools need the freedom to focus on education. Yet they also need the rest of the community to provide services that will keep students safe, healthy and prepared to learn. The struggle over mandates will end only when that balance is achieved.
Examples of regulations pertaining to Indiana schools:
•“A test to determine postural defects shall be administered to each public school student in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades.”
•“Not earlier than January 15 or later than January 31 of each year, the governing body of a school corporation shall publish an annual performance report of the school corporation, in compliance with the procedures identified in section 8 of this chapter.”
•“Each school corporation shall include in its curriculum instruction concerning the disease known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and shall integrate this effort to the extent possible with instruction on other dangerous communicable diseases.”
•“The governing body of every school corporation shall annually conduct an audiometer test or a similar test to determine the hearing efficiency of all school children in the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth grades, of all transferred school children and of all school children suspected of having hearing defects.”
•“The state board of education shall require the singing of the entire national anthem, ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ in each school on all patriotic occasions and shall arrange to supply the words and music in sufficient quantity for these purposes.”
Source: Indiana Code
Friday, December 09, 2005
I am not sure that I like how this poll is setup. It is yet another experiment...
Please feel free to post links to this poll, invite your friends and family to vote, and comment on this poll. I am really curious as to what the priorities of those people who read my blog are for this next session.
Do you think The City of Fort Wayne should spend taxpayer money to build a new hotel in downtown Fort Wayne?
Yes, this hotel will spur downtown development. 9 votes or 15%.
Maybe, I am not sure. 5 votes or 8%.
No, if a hotel made economic sense a business would build the hotel on their own. 47 votes or 77%.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Indiana teachers' pay lags
Salaries for educators fall short of U.S. average, study finds
By Jon Murray
Indiana's 60,000 public school teachers have been losing ground in pay compared with their peers nationwide, a growing gap educators say could hamper the wave of hiring expected as retirements swell over the next decade.
A National Education Association report released this week says salaries for teachers have failed to keep up with inflation in 41 states, including Indiana.
• National Education Association salary survey
During the 2004-05 school year, Hoosier teachers were paid an average salary of $46,591 -- 17th in the nation and a 1.7 percent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, the cost of living increased 3.1 percent.
Indiana teacher salaries fell short of the national average, $47,808, and the state has been slipping.
"The real problem that underlies it is that we may no longer be able to attract the most qualified people to teaching," said Dan Clark. He is deputy director of the Indiana State Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the national teachers' union. "The trend is not positive here."
In the 2002-03 school year, Indiana's average salary was 98.2 percent of the national average. Last year, it was 97.4 percent of the national average.
The report does not account for teachers' benefits or cost of living differences between states, but several education advocates and officials said it highlights a challenge for Indiana.
Some estimates predict 30 percent of Indiana's teachers will retire by 2015, Clark said. Lower-than-average salaries could complicate efforts to replace them.
"We've always been well-supplied, but there's more competition and more mobility today than ever before," said Suellen Reed, the state's superintendent of public instruction. "If a young person is a science teacher and they can choose making $25,000 in Indiana or making $30,000 working somewhere else . . . they may decide to go somewhere else."
Over time, the salary report says, Indiana teachers' pay has barely kept up with inflation. From 1994 to 2004, Indiana salaries increased 0.9 percent once the cost of living was factored in; nationwide, the increase was 2.9 percent.
Michigan, Illinois and Ohio rank above the national average, while Kentucky is 34th.
Don Hanlin, a Center Grove High School government teacher who has been teaching since 1967, thinks the quality of teacher applicants has gone down over time, because the best candidates often pick jobs that pay better.
"Talented people have so many resources, particularly talented women," he said. "We used to have women who were valedictorians and salutatorians in high school who became teachers, but they're not going into teaching anymore. We're in a much more competitive market now."
Kimberly Williams, 32, a nine-year math veteran who earns about $50,000 at the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School in Indianapolis, said she was not surprised teachers lack the earning potential of some other professions. In Indiana, construction workers make an average of $36,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while professionals in scientific or technical services make an average of $45,000, and company or business managers make an average of $69,000.
"You go into the field knowing that already," Williams said. "You don't do it for the pay. You do it for the love of teaching and knowing you have an impact on kids."
Strict comparisons are difficult with other professions because teachers work nine months of the year. Many take other jobs during the summer, and some work part-time jobs during the school year to supplement their income.
But many also use their time off to earn advanced degrees.
Salaries make up the vast majority of a school district's budget, and Clark said the General Assembly's belt-tightening, which has slowed the growth of school funding, has made it more difficult to give teachers raises.
Also, Clark said, the national recession hit Indiana hard and the recovery has been slow.
The NEA's salary ranking process invites some criticism.
John Ellis, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, said comparisons by state are difficult because teachers' benefits aren't taken into account.
Some states -- such as Michigan, whose average salary of $56,973 ranks fourth -- opt not to participate in Social Security for teachers. As a result, Ellis said, salaries there are higher.
Indiana does have a competitiveness problem, he said. He sees the teacher retirement system, which he said falls short of those in other states, as the main liability. The system is less generous than in some states, and it takes longer for workers to qualify for payouts.
Another issue that clouds the NEA rankings is cost of living differences among states. Indianapolis has the most affordable housing market in the country, according to one recent report, so $46,591 goes further here.
Of the 10 states with the highest average salaries, eight are among the most expensive places to live, including Connecticut and California.
Star reporters Kim L. Hooper and Staci Hupp contributed to this story. Call Star reporter Jon Murray at (317) 444-2710.
Copyright 2005 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved
I know a lot of Indiana teachers. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are both teachers. I like teachers. I think teachers are important and I think it is a job that should be paid a fair wage.
My wife and I have talked about teacher's salary's a lot.
Here is an interesting experiment for you. Go and do this google search and see what you get:
5 of the first 10 hits I get are for teachers which is incredible. There is a lot of research about how much they are paid.
Based on my experience I feel that teachers are OVERPAID. Let me give you some personal examples.
My wife went to college and got a four year degree in International Business. She then spent several years working as both an accountant and a bookkeeper. She went back to school and got an additional certificate in accounting. (My wife has 149 credit college credit hours). She got her license and became a certified public accountant. She spent some time working for three different CPA firms doing various tasks including travelling and doing auditing. Now she runs her own business.
One of her best friends went to college and got a degree in education. Her friend got out of college and became a public school teacher in Indiana. She went back to school and got her Masters Degree. Their entire careers the following has been true:
Both have about the same education level
Both have to have about the same amount of continuing education
Which one has been paid a higher salary EVERY year (We are looking at 14 years)? The teacher. Amazing when you consider:
The teacher has ALWAYS had:
Much better benefits of every kind including retirement, medical, etc.
Has always worked fewer hours. On average the teacher works about 25% less hours.
So you ask, why do the teachers make so much?
There is one main reason. The teachers unions are extremely large and powerful.
Do not get me wrong, teachers should make a good wage. I really do think they should. That being said, keep in mind a teacher works 25% less then most other jobs, has better benefits then almost every comparable job in Indiana, and rarely has to work overtime or holidays. Teachers have a very good deal.
I think the comment about teachers salary's not keeping up with inflation is the funniest. No one's salary' is keeping up with inflation. Most of us work at jobs that are CUTTING benefits (Especially health and retirement). When is the last time your heard a school board propose cutting teacher's benefits or wages because we need to show some compassion for the porperty tax payers because their expenses are going up faster then their income?
Property taxes are projected to increase ABOUT 10% across Indiana this year; almost entirely due to schools. Let's show some compassion for the rest of us...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I was stationed at Pearl Harbor for almost four years while I was in The United States Navy.
Hawaii is a peaceful place and many Sunday mornings I would look up into the sky and try to imagine hundreds of hostile Japanese warplanes diving out of the sky to kill the unwitting sailors, marines, airmen, and civilians at Pearl Harbor. I always had a hard time imagining the scenario as it must have played out.
This cowardly sneak attack killed 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians.
This attack killed 2403 American servicemen who were voluntarily serving their country and who had no idea they were about to be attacked. This attack roused our nation to arms. This attack 68 innocent civilians who had never commanded a hostile act towards Japan.
This is a history lesson that I hope no one in America forgets. We must always be vigilant and have the means to protect ourselves from foreign aggressors.
I am afraid that a lot of Americans have forgotten this key point.
I am not a war monger nor do I believe that The Pentagon is spending my tax money wisely; I have served in the military, I know how very wasteful they are.
America needs to remember its past and continue to work hard and be ready to defend ourselves from foreign aggressors as needed.
Monday, December 05, 2005
The wife and I are heading down to see the San Diego game. I think that will be a great game...
Before the season started my wife predicted the Colts would go 13-3 this year. I predicted they would go 9-7 (I was scared by how bad they looked in the pre-season.)
I currently think the Colts have about a 30-40% chance to go 16-0.
What do you think?
Friday, December 02, 2005
26 Votes for Eastern time. (46%)
31 Votes for Central time. (54%)
These results are certainly not scientific; however, they are interesting. I believe that the state is split about half and half on this issue. I would have expected this poll to result in people being in favor of eastern time since most of the people who come to this blog are from the Fort Wayne area.
Thank you for participating in this poll!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Public Schools 53,801
Private Schools 28,440
No statistics were provided on Home Schooled children.
Excluding Home Schooled children these statistics tell us that almost 35% of the enrolled students in Allen County go to Private Schools!
One would think this would radically lower everyone's property taxes since so many children are not even in the Public Schools...
That of course does not seem to be the case...