For the most part, the overarching concern of those senators (all Republican) who are possibly waffling on this HB1003, is financial. Be sure to use Vic's Statehouse Notes' financial information in your emails and phone calls to persuade them to vote "no". One argument that some senators (like Kenley) have pushed for is that we study the effects of the voucher bill already in place for a few years before we extend it. It's a reasonable argument for some.
There are a few senators that we really should focus on in our writings. If you know anyone in these areas, please call them and tell them about this bill and encourage them to contact their senator. There are two concerns that these folks have: re-election and financial. Be sure to individualize these emails!
Here are some to focus on:
Senator Mishler (R) of District 9 (Marshall County and Kosciusko County .. see this map...) said that , although he agrees with "choice" he has some major reservations. He is in the area near Warsaw and in his area there are almost no schools that one can use vouchers for! If you know anyone in that area, please let them know that they need to contact him and let him know that they, too, have deep concerns. For most of these waffling Republicans, my understanding is that they are worried about the cost. During the Tax and Fiscal Policy committee, Mishler said he "reserves the right to vote against it on the floor. " Let's all encourage him to vote NO and let him know that this bleeding of funds will hurt the public schools in his district. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Zakas is in the South Bend and Goshen (?) area (District 11) and he may be a key vote. He is a Catholic and is probably getting a lot of pressure from Catholic school parents and schools. If you are Catholic or you know some Catholic school parents who don't believe in de-funding public schools, please try to contact him. Or if you know anyone in that area, of course. His email is : email@example.com.
Senator Landske is in District 6 in the Lake County, Newton County, and Benton County area. Do you know anyone who lives near Crown Point? Let them know that they need to call her and write her! She has fiscal concerns about this new bill. Please take that tack with her. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Charbonneau ( District 5) (Valpo and Rensselear area) has shown that he has serious reservations about the A-F grading system of our schools. Now the HB1003 includes an amendment that would allow anyone in an "F" school district to take a voucher. A Kindergartener within an "A" elementary school district but that also has an "F" high school, could go straight to a private one. Let's encourage him to see the misuse of this grading system in this bill and, of course, the financial ramifications of these millions of dollars leaving our public school budget. His email is :
Senator Kenley (District 20, Hamilton County) had been wonderful at arguing against expanding these vouchers. His concerns are financial, but he also pointed out that they are doing a bait and switch type of thing by allowing wealthier families to receive these vouchers as well as not requiring so many kids to try the public schools first. He needs to be thanked for this and encouraged to vote against the bill. He has suggested that we have a study first to see how the vouchers are working for kids. Please encourage him to push for that before we expand the program. He also seems to be very concerned with the way special education will be hurt by this bill (see Vic's notes). His email is email@example.com
Senator Steele (District 44, Bedford, Columbus, Nashville area: Brown Co., Lawrence Co, Jackson Co. and some Monroe Co.) was concerned during the first voucher bill with accountability of the private schools. He added an amendment that was about something like civics and morals being taught in those voucher schools requiring some accountability. That provision for accountability was promptly tossed aside by Tony Bennett and crew. They only have to observe 5% (13 total) schools and have a very vague review of what goes on. Accountability as well as financial cost might be a good argument for him. Please let your friends know. Here's his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember that Senator Skinner of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee has said that they don't know and can't tell us just how much this bill will actually cost the public schools' budgets. How can they be fiscally responsible and support this?
These senators should also hear from you with the financial concerns:
Senator Alting, District 22. See map His email is email@example.com
Senator Becker, District 50 (Evansville area). Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Boots , District 23 ( Crawfordsville and Lebanon area, I think). His email email@example.com
Senator Head, District 18 ( Logansport? Peru? ) His email firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Waltz, District 36 (Marion County) His email is email@example.com
Senator Bray, District 37 (Morgan County and some Putnam. Martinsville) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Crider, is new like Bray (so they didn't vote for vouchers in 2011) He is District 28. That's the Greenfield area. Email email@example.com
Senator Paul, District 27 (Richmond area) His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Leising, District 42 (Rushville, Connersville, maybe Shelbyville?) email@example.com
OKAY. LET'S START NETWORKING! THIS IS THE "SCOOP" AS I UNDERSTAND IT. ANYONE WITH DIFFERENT INFO, PLEASE COMMENT!
Focus on financial concerns, slowing down and evaluating the program as it is. Did it help poor children get an educational opportunity as they argued in the beginning or are we simply funding kids who were going to go to private schools anyway? Do we know what is happening to public schools when they lose this money? Studying the choice program as it is and making decisions later is a more conservative way to go and fiscally sound to boot!