2023 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

In the wee hours of Friday April 29th, the 123rd Indiana General Assembly came to a close.

Many bills now await Governor Holcomb’s signature, signing the bill into law, or veto. The Governor has 7 days to complete this process. If he does not move on the bill, on day 8, it automatically becomes a law. The 123rd session was a budget year, making it a long session. Initially, Indiana homeschoolers were included in the budget. IAHE Action worked diligently with our legislators to ensure our freedom. 

IAHE Action has processed 4,770 documents consisting of each and every bill, resolution, fiscal note, and proposed amendment through our tracking software. From this, 896 bills and resolutions have been flagged and individually reviewed by our volunteer team. The bill reading team and policy analysts have identified 47 bills pertaining to parental rights and home education that were prioritized and continuously tracked throughout the session. Our team and interns did a stellar job being present at the Statehouse, watching meetings online, communicating with the team, and following up with the offices of elected officials.

While we may not agree with every policy or vote, we continue to identify and reach out to like-minded individuals holding office with the goal of preserving our parental right to educational liberty for our children.

Bills that Impacted Indiana Homeschoolers and Their Outcomes

HB 1001: Budget Bill
Final Status: Passed
The budget bill initially contained nonaccredited non public schools with less than one employee as it pertained to HB 1002.

Indiana homeschoolers were removed from the budget bill in the House of Representatives.

HB 1002 (Representative Chuck Goodrich): Career Scholarship Account
Final Status: Passed
The CSA program, geared towards reviving the trade schools in Indiana starting with high school students, initially included homeschoolers.

For homeschoolers, IDOE would deposit $500 into the student’s 529 account after the student completed the training, passed the exams, and earned a certificate. This deposit would be required to be recorded on the family’s yearly tax statement. The student’s income would be tracked over the course of 10 years after his/her certification. The median earned income for all participants would be listed on IDOE’s website.

Indiana homeschoolers were removed from HB 1002 in the House of Representatives. 

HB 1407 (Representative Dale DeVon): Parental Rights
Final Status: Failed
The Parental Rights bill aimed to codify parental rights and responsibilities to and for their children and added protections from unlawful seizure of children from stable homes. This was a direct response to the court case In the Matter of A.C. (Minor Child), Child in Need of Services, and M.C. (Mother) and J.C. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services. In this case, a minor child identified as transgender and developed an eating disorder. The court acknowledged the parents had done nothing wrong but removed the child from the home due to his continued self-harm through an eating disorder.

This bill passed out of the House of Representatives but was stymied in the Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure committee. 

HB 1501 (Representative Timothy Wesco): Nonaccredited Nonpublic Diplomas
Final Status: Failed
Introduced by Representative Timothy Wesco and co-authored by Representative Ryan Lauer, HB 1501 was among the bills that did not make it out of committee.

This bill would have codified nonaccredited non public school diplomas and would have alleviated the increased diploma discrimination Indiana homeschoolers are facing.

HB 1613 (Representative Zach Payne): Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program (IN ESA)
Final Status: Failed
This bill proposed to expand the definition of an eligible student. It did not receive a hearing in the House of Representatives Education Committee.

SB 12 (Senator James Tomes) Material Harmful to Minors;
HB 1130 (Representative Becky Cash): Material Harmful to Minors

Final Status: Failed, Inserted, and Passed

SB 12 and HB 1130 both failed in their respective chambers. However, the language was added into HB 1447 in the wee hours of April 29th, 2023. The Material Harmful to Minors bills created quite a stir at the Statehouse this year as school librarians and educators fought to maintain their prosecutorial exemption regarding providing material meeting the definitions of obscene matter and/or matter harmful to minors as outlined in existing code (IC 35-49-2). 

SB 167 (Senator Jean Leising): FAFSA
Final Status: Passed
This would require all students except those in nonaccredited nonpublic schools to fill out the FAFSA for each student.

This bill was signed into law by the Governor on April 20, 2023.

SB 305 (Senator Brian Buchanan): Education Scholarship Account (ESA) 
Final Status: Failed
In 2021, Indiana passed the ESA program specifically for students with disabilities. Under the current law, these students must take all required state standardized tests and divorce the local public school of any and all supports.

There are a number of issues with the ESA program:

-No legal classification
-No avenue for the child to earn a diploma
-No avenue for the child to receive a transcript
-No avenue for attendance tracking

This bill  sought to remove the earlier provisions, raise the accepted income eligibility requirements, remove the disability requirement, all the while not remedying any of the issues above.

Several times, Senator Brian Buchanan echoed that any child taking these funds would not be classified as a homeschool student. 

SB 471 (Senator Faddy Qaddoura): Universal Childcare and Pre-K
Final Status: Failed
This would have lowered the compulsory age of attendance to the age of 4 starting the 2025-2026 school year. This bill did not receive a hearing in the Senate Education and Career Development committee.

The research simply does not support early formalized education.

SB 467 (Senator Greg Taylor): Age for Compulsory Attendance
Final Status: Failed
This bill would have lowered the compulsory age to 5 years old.

Again, the research simply does not support early formalized education. 

Freedom Isn’t Free!

The national trend regarding expanding access to Government funding continues to be couched in the phrase “school choice”. Indiana home educators have the maximum flexibility of all choices. Indiana homeschoolers are free of Government regulation. We determine all aspects of our children’s education free of government interference and measurement.

We are free of the regulation that comes with Government funding.

IAHE and IAHE Action would like to thank Senator Greg Walker, Senator Jeffrey Raatz, Senator John Crane, Senator Brian Buchanan, Representative Jeffrey Thompson, Representative Robert Behning, Representative Becky Cash, Representative Julie McGuire, and other State legislators for their continued support of Indiana homeschoolers and actively defending our rights.  

Congratulations to our IAHE Action Government Affairs Interns, Emily Bowyer and Elijah Sager, for completing the IAHE Government Affairs Internship! Emma Sager, a freshman at Cedarville University, joyfully returned as a collegiate intern this year and joined bill reader Jill Wildermuth this session. Our bill reading team was led out by senior bill reader, Bryan Varner. Thank you all for serving Indiana home educators so well! We’re grateful for your attention to detail and countless hours spent pouring over legislation.

With the help of volunteers like you, IAHE and IAHE Action continue to defend homeschool and parental freedoms.

Wanting to make a difference next session? 

Building relationships with your state Senator and Representative is vital! IAHE Action made 5 Calls to Action this session. Your voices were heard and are instrumental in our legislative process.

Join our IAHE Action mailing list to stay informed! https://www.iaheaction.net/stay-informed/

IAHE Action cannot do what it does without your support. Thank you to our donors!

DONATE NOW to IAHE Action to support ongoing efforts to protect your homeschooling and parental rights.

Milton Friedman and Conservatives: Wrong on Education

The original post by Jacob G. Hornberger may be found on The Future of Freedom Foundation blog.  Republished with permission.

Once upon a time, some conservatives used to call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education. Lamentably, conservatives today celebrate when a “free-market advocate” like multimillionaire Betsy DeVos is appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, and they get terribly excited when she speaks at conservative conferences.

Meanwhile, even while conservatives continue to pronounce their allegiance to their favorite mantra — “free enterprise, private property, limited government” — they continue to embrace not only public schooling itself but also their favorite public-schooling fix-it program, school vouchers.

Over the years, conservatives have developed various labels for their voucher program: a “free-market approach to education,” “free enterprise in education,” or “school choice.” They have chosen those labels to make themselves and their supporters feel good about supporting vouchers.

But the labeling has always been false and fraudulent. Vouchers are nothing more than a socialist program, no different in principle from public schooling itself.

The term “free enterprise” means a system in which a private enterprise is free of government control or interference. That’s what distinguishes it from a socialist system, which connotes government control and interference with the enterprise.

A voucher system entails the government taxing people and then using the money to provide vouchers to people, which they can then redeem at government-approved private schools.

Does that sound like a system that is free from government control or interference? In reality, it’s no different in principle from food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, or any other welfare-state program. The government is using force to take money from Peter and giving it to Paul. That’s not “free enterprise.” That’s the opposite of free enterprise.

Conservatives say that their voucher system is based on “choice” because the voucher provides recipients with “choices.” But doesn’t the same principle apply to recipients of food stamps, farm subsidies, Social Security, and other socialist programs? Sure, the recipient of the loot has more choices because he has more money at his disposal. But let’s not forget that the person from whom the money was forcibly taken has been deprived of choices. After all, after a robber commits his dirty deed, he too has more choices with the money he has acquired. His victim, on the other hand, has been deprived of choices. 

In FFF’s first year of operation, 1990, I wrote an article entitled “Letting Go of Socialism,” in which I pointed out that school vouchers were just another socialist scheme, one that was intended to make public schooling work more efficiently.

Imagine my surprise to receive a critique from none other than Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is the father of the school voucher program. Friedman leveled his critique in a speech he delivered that was entitled “Say No to Intolerance,” in which he took to task such libertarian stalwarts as Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand for adhering to principle.

Interesting enough, Friedman’s speech was recently reprinted in an issue of the Hoover Digest, a premier conservative publication. You can read it here.

Friedman’s critique of my article was nice enough. First pointing out that FFF was doing “good work and making an impact,” he addressed my criticism of vouchers:

But am I a statist, as I have been labeled by a number of libertarians, because some thirty years ago I suggested the use of educational vouchers as a way of easing the transition? Is that, and I quote Hornberger again, “simply a futile attempt to make socialism work more efficiently”? I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that you can simply say what the ideal is. This is what I mean by the utopian strand in libertarianism. You can-not simply describe the utopian solution, and leave it to somebody else how we get from here to there. That’s not only a practical problem. It’s a problem of the responsibilities that we have.

With all due respect to a Nobel Prize winner and a true gentleman, Milton Friedman was wrong on education then, and conservatives who continue to support vouchers are wrong today.

Notice something important, a point that conservatives have long forgotten: Friedman justified vouchers as a way to get rid of public schooling. For him, vouchers were a “transition” device — i.e., a way to get from here to there, with “there” being the end of public schooling.

That’s not what conservatives say today. They justify vouchers by saying that they will improve, not destroy, the public-schooling system. I can’t help but wonder what Friedman would say about that if he were still alive, given that his support of vouchers was based on the notion that it would serve as a way to get rid of public schooling. Would he still support vouchers if he knew that they would save public schooling and make it more efficient?

Why did conservatives end up rejecting Friedman’s justification? They came to the realization that some people would be less likely to support vouchers if they were told that their real purpose was to destroy public schooling. Therefore, to get more people to support vouchers, conservatives shifted Friedman’s justification to the exact opposite of what Friedman was saying. Conservatives began telling people that vouchers, by providing “competition,” would improve the public-schooling system. In fact, voucher proponents today, when pressed, will openly tell people that they are opposed to abolishing public schooling but only want to make it better by providing people with the means (vouchers) to leave the public-schooling system.

Almost 30 years after Friedman leveled his critique at me, there is not one instance of where his system of school vouchers have served as a “transition” to educational liberty. Time has confirmed the point I pointed out almost three decades ago — that school vouchers, no matter how they are labeled, are nothing more than a socialistic program designed to make socialism (i.e., public schooling) work more efficiently.

Friedman and conservatives have been proven wrong on education. There is only one solution to the educational morass in which Americans find themselves: Separate school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Repeal all school compulsory-attendance laws and school taxes and sell off the school buildings. End all government involvement in education, including licensing of schools. Establish a total free-market educational system.

For more information on this issue, see FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.c

om and from Full Context. Send him email.

IAHE Action is funded by the donations of our generous supporters. As a 501c4 organization, donations to IAHE Action are NOT tax deductible.

As We Were Saying

Recently, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick, was on a panel at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Public Education with former Superintendents, Glenda Ritz and Suellen Reed.

Dr. McCormick called for increased accountability measures for charter and private schools that accept taxpayer funded vouchers. Her hope is that all schools that receive taxpayer funding will have the same “academic and financial scrutiny as traditional public schools.” She wants to make certain students receive a quality experience for their education.  

Currently, according to the EdChoice publication, The ABCs of School Choice, these are requirements for Indiana taxpayer-funded voucher schools:

IC 20-51-1-4

  • Be accredited by either the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the state board.
  • Comply with health and safety codes
  • Must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin*
  • Conduct criminal background checks on employees
  • Administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) program and report to the state data for A-F ratings including ISTEP scores and graduation rates

To remain eligible to accept new scholarship students, a school must not be rated as D or F for two or more consecutive years

  • Must grant the state full access to its premises for observing classroom instruction and reviewing any classroom instructional materials and curriculum
  • Provide civic and character education and display related historical documents [3]

*There has been a discussion regarding discrimination by Congresswoman Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts about an Indiana Christian voucher accepting school and a recent effort in Nevada to broaden this to include gender.

If Dr. McCormick has her way, there would be even greater regulations and private schools will look increasingly like public schools. Homeschoolers need to take this to heart whenever a legislator assures our community that ESAs will cause no harm to our liberty. Once the camel’s nose is under the tent, it is very difficult to keep him out. 

In a similar vein, Heartland Institute’s Teresa Mull shared the money quote in her article, “Ending Government Schools Does Not Mean Ending Public Education.” Delivering families access to alternative forms of education—whether it be in the form of online classes, learning therapies, homeschool textbooks, tutoring, or private schools—is the purpose of tax-credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and vouchers, all of which are forms of “public education,” since public tax dollars fund the programs.”

As we’ve shared with homeschoolers, a new public school system is being built. We first noticed it as we read quotes from early reformers from the 1990’s. The question for homeschoolers who worked so hard to have the liberty to teach their children as they see fit, do you want to be sucked back into the public school system? We’ve seen what has happened to it over the past 50 years. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. ~ John Adams

Parental Observations Regarding Their Voucher-accepting School

IAHE Action has heard from parents with children in Indiana voucher-accepting schools that they have seen negative consequences of vouchers. We asked these parents to share their observations as a warning to others in regards to the negative effect of government funding of education whether it’s a voucher or an education scholarship/options account.

 The Indiana General Assembly included the language below in Indiana Code in 2011 to protect nonpublic schools that take public funding. As you will note, even with the best of intentions, government funding has unintended consequences.

IC 20-51-4 Chapter 4. Choice Scholarship

IC 20-51-4-1 Autonomy of nonpublic schools; curriculum

Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided under subsections (b) through (h), it is the intent of the general assembly to honor the autonomy of nonpublic schools that choose to become eligible schools under this chapter. A nonpublic eligible school is not an agent of the state or federal government, and therefore:

(1) the department or any other state agency may not in any way regulate the educational program of a nonpublic eligible school that accepts a choice scholarship under this chapter, including the regulation of curriculum content, religious instruction or activities, classroom teaching, teacher and staff hiring requirements, and other activities carried out by the eligible school;

(2) the creation of the choice scholarship program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, the state’s officers, or a school corporation to impose additional regulation of nonpublic schools beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the choice scholarship program in place on July 1, 2011; and

(3) a nonpublic eligible school shall be given the freedom to provide for the educational needs of students without governmental control.


 Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Catholic schools are known to do a great job of educating children, especially the poor and minorities. The authors of the book Common Good say that the Catholic schools have built their success by having each school decide its academic standards. They have traditionally given less weight to background differences, and this provides an excellent education for all students. Costs began rising when the schools did not have as many nuns teaching, and this has made it harder for parents to send their children to Catholic schools. For many parents and schools the development of vouchers seemed like an answered prayer; however, this is proving not to be true.  govt-funds-govt-controls-1

The vouchers were started with parents being told that there would be few changes for the private school; the main change being that parents and schools would see an increase of funds. This would help to take the financial burden off of the parents and churches. This sounded too good to be true and, in fact, it was-Catholic schools are changing and will continue to change as long as they take government money. Vouchers threaten the autonomy of Catholic schools, as each used to choose its curriculum and choose how to be accredited or not accredited. Now all forty-two elementary schools in our diocese are accredited by AdvancEd. Starting this year all curricula needed to be approved by the diocese.

At least two schools had already purchased books and were told to use different ones, or they would lose their accreditation from the state as well as voucher money. The diocese is in the planning stages of having an approved list of books for each school to choose from. This means that all forty-two schools will be using the same curriculum with only a few changes from school to school. Many are not aware, but all five of the dioceses in Indiana joined, and all are accredited by AdvancEd because individual accreditation is cost prohibitive.

In March of 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that private schools are subject to government regulations if they enroll students with government money. This money can go directly to the school or the individual student, but the same rule still applies. Examples of federal assistance are scholarships, loans, and grants.  from-the-govt

All students take the ISTEP test which is aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The test is aligned to CCSS because Indiana takes federal money and Common Core (CC) testing is part of the requirements. Each student including those who do not receive vouchers takes the test. Every student in Catholic schools has become part of the federal database. Schools discourage parents from refusing the test as this can change test results, especially in a small school. This is important because schools are graded on their results and if a school has too many years of failing test results the school loses its accreditation and voucher money. Schools must follow the state standards, and the state standards include federal rules as Indiana receives federal money. In essence, the federal government can tell the schools in Indiana what they can teach. Individual schools in our diocese will no longer choose their curriculum. The diocese will provide each school with an approved curriculum list. This is not the parent-guided learning that the Catholic Church advocates. Many of our schools are using the Notre Dame ACE program which instructs teachers how to infuse Catholicism into the secular school books. The Notre Dame ACE curriculum has CC in it. CCSS are copyrighted by the National Governors Association (NGA). The copyright ensures the same standards or same curriculum. This is being seen in the diocese as they will be giving the same curriculum choices to all forty-two elementary schools. The key to CCSS is the individual student learning outcomes. The outcome does not take into account individual differences, but rather all are the same and failure is removed. This is done by lowering the academic bar for Catholic students. As an example, in one school where new books were bought this year the sixth-grade students are doing the same math they did in fourth grade. This allows all students to meet the standards-not one child fails and no one excels. Gone are the days when all students are challenged; instead, teachers are told to challenge when they can. Some parents have asked to have their children put ahead in areas that are not challenging the student, and they have been told this could cause social problems.

Catholic schools are quick to say that the state is not telling them what curriculum to use, and this is true. The state, instead, has chosen to use the state standards as the guidelines that each school must meet that takes vouchers. This limits the curriculum choices for these schools. The sixth-grade math standards page and the sixth grade English standards PDF page of the IDOE (which anyone can download) states many of the standards originated from various sources including Common Core State Standards. One principal said Indiana does not have CCSS in its schools. The schools must teach to the standards, so, therefore, CCSS are in Indiana state accredited schools. Dr. Terrence Moore, of Hillsdale College, did not support the 2014 revision of Indiana standards. Hung-His Wu of the University of California Berkeley, a math professor, and common core supporter, told reporters that ninety percent of Indiana College-and-Career Ready standards are straight from Common Core standards. This makes sense as standards can only deviate fifteen percent from the federal guidelines. James Milgram, a professor of math at Stanford University, did not support Indiana’s new 2014 standards. In 2014, Hoosiers against Common Core released a study that compared the two guidelines 2010 and 2014, and it found that the majority of the standards for 2014 were imported word for word from the 2010 Common Core standards. The analysis also showed that most of the hotly contested standards were still included. Catholic schools now teach to these standards. Another principal has said that Indiana uses College-and-Career-Ready standards, not CCSS. Do a Google search and you will find that this is just another name for CCSS. If your standards use ninety percent of CCSS, you are truly just using CCSS. Scores in most Catholic schools were higher on the tests given before implementing the voucher program. David Coleman has said that the SAT will be aligned to CCSS. Catholic high schools will likewise teach to the CCSS in order to receive accreditation and good SAT scores.

Expect "gift" to be accompanied by operant conditioning habits of mind altering assessments. If not now, in the future. BEWARE.

Voucher-receiving schools need to complete a school improvement plan and a review of student achievement indicators. This is a paper that schools type up and send to the state. The state then reviews the plan to assure it meets the standards and that the school has an improvement plan. There also is an appointed ombudsman to help with receiving the funds. This also ensures that all the guidelines are met. The guidelines can lead too much extra spending as well. One small rural school needs to spend $15,000 on security to maintain accreditation. This will include protective film on all the windows and two-way radios.

The academic assessments include measures to assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding in all grades that are tested. This has led to testing in younger grades that is not developmentally appropriate until a child reaches the age of eleven or twelve as they do not have the developed pre-frontal cortex needed to think abstractly. This is necessary for higher order thinking. These tests do not measure knowledge but the thinking process. It is difficult to assess higher order thinking on a standardized test accurately. These tests affect all students at Catholic schools even if no voucher money is taken by a family as the schools can not discriminate in their policies, all must take the tests. The Pioneer Institute says that the liberation theology and social justice promoted and taught by Catholic schools is Marxism or secularism. Therefore, a secular curriculum will be used most in Catholic schools.

Currently, all of our diocese schools accept vouchers, and this subjects them to the mandates of the education bill, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This was signed into law in December of 2015, and it cemented CC into federal control. For the Catholic school, this means as long as they take vouchers they have no choice but to choose an ESSA curriculum. Catholic schools that are accredited are finding it difficult to make changes their curriculum. This will remain true as long as they continue to take the vouchers. Teaching from secular textbooks will continue, and socialism and socialist pressure will continue to be introduced at a young age.

The cost of a private Catholic education has also changed with the vouchers. Before vouchers, each school/church along with the diocese was able to pay for the expenses of each child that went to that school. Most people knew that Catholic parents would not be able to afford the complete cost of a Catholic education, so each church assisted the school in paying for some of the costs of the school. This was common in Lutheran schools as well. Children were told that the cost of their education was kept down by contributions from the congregation or parish members. Most students in the 1970’s did not pay a high tuition to go to a Catholic school. The tuition was capped at $500 or $600 a family. Most of the money to run the school (teacher salary, building, etc.) came from the church. For Catholics, this began to change as nuns became less available to teach. Most churches charged tuition, but, if the family could not afford it, the church picked up the cost of the education. No one was turned away because they couldn’t pay. The schools also had a limit of how many children each family would have enrolled and pay tuition. An example would be three children as the limit of paying. So, as an example, if the tuition was $2,000 a student the maximum amount a family would pay is $6,000 even if they had four children in school. This is changing with the vouchers. Soon at all schools, there will not be a cap on the number of students one family needs to pay tuition for. The new cost per student is approximately $3,000-$4,000. If your family does not qualify for vouchers, and you have four children enrolled, you are now paying $12,000-$16,000 instead of $6,000. This is twice as much and some who do not get vouchers find this added cost unaffordable. School choice is not working for these parents it is hurting them. Parents who get vouchers have very little choice either as they cannot afford the tuition at a non-voucher school where before they were able to afford the private Catholic school education with assistance from the parish.  wherever-liberty-1

Small schools, who before only had five to six computers for the whole school, now have a computer for each child so that the standards can be met. These small schools would not be able to maintain this level of technology without the vouchers and they would not have bought them if did not receive voucher money. Many studies have been done that show that students retain knowledge better with books. Books are what made those small schools great academically.   In one small Catholic school, they say they have seen a twenty percent decline in their test scores since starting to accept vouchers and changing their curriculum. The vouchers have made Catholic education less affordable, and choice is being taken from the individual schools and parents.

Every voucher-accepting school needs to be able to accept special needs children. This has increased the cost to each school. Special needs children deserve to have a good education but by requiring a private school to accept special needs children, the voucher, have greatly increased the costs to those schools. It has forced our diocese to have one school that is devoted to accepting special needs students. The diocese assures all students with special needs can get to the school by bus or by car. Each school also needs to be able to accommodate some amount of special needs, and this has led to the additional hiring of aides to provide 1:1 work. The small school will find this beyond their financial ability.

The atmosphere at the Catholic schools has also changed when talking to parents and teachers. Parents that choose to send their children to a Catholic school that does not belong to the church do not have as much of an invested interest in the church, and therefore the commitment from these parents is less. Many have noticed a decrease in participation in school improvement efforts such a fundraisers for blinds, books, desks and other items that these schools need. Most do not see how this benefits the school to keep costs down.

Parents are pulling problem students from one school and putting them in another school. Often these problems follow the child. These are usually behavior problems, and this means that teachers spend increased time on disciplining and less time teaching. Some of these students have parents who want a hands-off approach and so they have had very little structure at home. Therefore it is difficult for these children to adjust to a structured Catholic environment. Students are also witnessing increased violence, poor language, and disrespect to teachers. Many Catholics sent their children to a private school to see less of this. Most of the children that are admitted that have behavior problems are difficult to remove from the individual schools once they are admitted, and schools cannot discriminate who they admit. To remove one of these children there needs to be a lot of documentation. After the documentation is completed, there is separate paperwork to complete and send to the state. Also, whatever percentage of the school year is left, that percentage of the voucher money must go with that child to his next school. This is added work for the principals.  govt-solution

Parents of students in Catholic schools are being told that Indiana did not adopt CCSS and therefore we are not using CCSS. This is not true as one school is using CC math and reading. Indiana still receives federal funding for schools and therefore must meet federal guidelines. This includes Catholic schools who take voucher money. This is another step in nationalizing education and Catholic schools by choosing to take the voucher money have to participate. This puts each Catholic child into the national database of information and identifies them as a worker. The goal some say is to use these tests scores to steer children into careers and jobs. Others say that only the top twenty percent of students nationally will go on to college. There must be accountability for the money that is given to schools from the state. The accountability of the voucher money will the follow the child wherever his education takes place, private, public, or charter. If the state does not have accountability for the voucher program there will be misuse and problems. Also, people want to know how well their tax money is working.

Remember schools that take voucher money must teach to the State’s standards and Indiana’s HB 1427 states, That the board will use CC as the base model for academic standards to the extent necessary to comply with federal standards to receive a flexibility waiver. Therefore, when parents are told that Indiana does not have any CC they are wrong. Ninety percent of the current math standards are still the same in the new 2014 guidelines. The idea is to nationalize education and have this money follow students from state to state. This is not what we want as parents.  guiding-principle

The vouchers have not improved Catholic education or the environment in which the child learns. Every child in a Catholic school has been affected by the vouchers even those who do not receive one as everything is now aligned to state standards.

The best solution would be for Catholic schools to return to not accepting state funds. Catholic schools at one time supported themselves and could again. Hillsdale College is one such institution that thrives without government money. In 1998, in Tennessee, a Catholic superintendent was able to reopen closed Catholic schools with donations from businesses and individuals. Any child who could not afford the schooling was not charged tuition. This model could work for our Catholic schools as well. Many believe we are making education more affordable with the money from the state but as stated tuition costs have risen. Each Catholic school that accepts vouchers waves the right to set their own standards and they must conform to the state standards that include national testing. For most of the Catholic schools in our diocese, this will mean the Notre Dame ACE program and choosing from a curriculum that the diocese approves. Prior to the voucher program, each Catholic school principal would choose the curriculum and it was approved by the parish priest. This was more local than the new approach.

A study that was released a little over a year ago revealed that students with vouchers lost significantly in math and they had zero gains in English. Another study showed that schools now administer about twenty percent more tests.

Private schools who do not participate in Indiana’s voucher program site concerns about independence, character, and the identity of their school. All of these concerns have become true for the Catholic schools that take vouchers in our diocese. Many of the non-participating schools also stated that they did not want to administer the current ISTEP test as they feel that it does not reflect their curriculum goals. Another concern of non-participating private schools is the increased paperwork and reports.  more-quickly-destroy

The Association of Classical and Christian Schools summarizes vouchers in this way, “He who takes the King’s coin becomes the King’s man.” Just because conditions are now tolerable does not mean that they may not be tolerable tomorrow. Their stance is that if you take money from the state, you will take your marching orders from the state.

One can be certain that as long as money is taken from the state for a school accountability will follow that money and at any time those conditions can change for the better or worse. We all have seen how difficult it is repeal regulations once they happen.

If our Catholic schools continue to use the current state standards and chosen curriculum we foresee a mass exodus from the Catholic schools and eventually closings of Catholic schools; vouchers were to help school choice not to close them. The education that is given is mediocre at best which forces parents to find alternate ways to educate their children, including homeschooling. This is one alternative which allows the parents to take back the control of their children’s education. Many families, especially single parent homes and those who both must work will find it difficult to find workable solutions. Some will find that they must choose needed income from their jobs over a better education for their children. Families must provide for the basic needs of their children.

The choice of curriculum needs to be brought back to each school. Our diocese should consider how they may best do this. Each school’s involvement at the local church level is what made private Catholic schools better; it was not state money. The schools were a mission of the Catholic Church and they should return to a mission and not be voucher-funded where few decisions are left to the parents, priest, and church.


This paper was written by a family who has seen changes caused by the Indiana voucher program.

More Indiana voucher regulation news:

Education Freedom Watch Private School Choice Freedom Grading Scale Table

A Parent Laments the Common Core-Voucher Link

Indiana Conservative Coalition:  “School Choice” with Strings Attached Not Conservative

How Common Core is Affecting Private Christian Schools?  Common Core Education Standards Generate Catholic Concerns

Six Things to Know About Indiana’s School Voucher Program, a Model Betsy DeVos Could Support

Why Homeschoolers Don’t Want School Vouchers

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines… The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 3

The latest installment of a multi-part series. Read Part 2 here.

9. Mass Men, mass production, minimum Standards and human capital.

If you’ve ever made homemade bread, you realize it takes time and loving attention. One searches out the best ingredients, reads all the labels, and hones appropriate proportions and rise times that depend on factors such as humidity, room and oven temperature, and other variations that occur in real ingredients and in real life. Making good bread, like artisan cheeses, or any handcrafted piece is an art.

Nurturing minds, your own child’s mind is like that as well. One cannot separate the mind from the body or the spirit. Nor can one ignore the emotions, the setting factors, and the variances of talent, temperament, interest or heart in each unique individual. Children are a gift from God to be handled with His guidance, time and loving attention.

Mass produced bread gets shoved here and there and is trashed with very little concern. Homemade bread is crafted with care, anticipated with its attending aroma, appreciated for its taste, texture, nutrient value, extra efforts, shared with family and friends, and savored to the last crumb.

When the Third-Party payers took over education, outsourcing the designated transmitters, the parents accountable to God, they needed student-testing outcomes on dictated minimum standards to report metrics to third party investors.

Now, we all know what “minimum standards” have done for any industry.

Houses were far better constructed when the builder and homeowner worked together, eye-to-eye to design and build a house that would become a home enjoyed for generations, packed with friends and remarked upon as representative of the excellent craftsmanship of the builder.

Medical care was far better when the patient-doctor relationship had no third party middlemen dictating minimum and maximum allowable fees, appointment times, procedure frequency, record documentation, services, interventions, medications, reimbursements, surgeons, stays, providers, co-pays, information transportability, diagnosis codes and insurance processing.

Food was far more nutritious when the farmer raised foods he, his family and neighbors would eat; food that was not genetically modified to kill bugs, weeds and consumers. Nor was the food government subsidized to control market prices and pawned off on government aligned institutions, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, food banks and impoverished countries.

When men are educated in mass, conditioned for obedience to a minimum ‘standard’, and viewed only as human capital to be regimented in rank and file for labor and consumption purposes, then human life is devalued to that of day old commercial bread. In contrast to proposed theories of humanitarian benevolence, the socialist humanist models result in very little respect for human life, individual distinction, or individual liberty.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

10. Liberty requires that education be privately funded, parent directed.

“A general education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.” ~ J.S. Mill, On Liberty 1859

Even political economist, parliamentarian, Utilitarian John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), dubbed as “the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century,” rallied against standardized government subsidized education. Mill himself was educated at home by his parents.

J. S. Mill was a great advocate of education for all, as he sought to see the people of England equipped with the abilities to vote and participate in governance. Yet, the locale of education was not to be dictated and “there would be no official pressure to supply people with teachers previously instructed in government training colleges. In the words of Adam Smith: ‘They would soon find better teachers than any whom the state could provide for them.” Educator, Philosopher, Economist Adam Smith (1723-1790), the author of “Wealth of Nations”, noted for the division of labor, had himself been a college professor and witnessed the realities of government subsidized education.

“In the University of Oxford, the greater part of the public professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even the pretence of teaching.” ~ Adam Smith in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations (1776)

To be continued.


Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

 It was (and is), the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in her opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines… The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 2

This is a continuation of our multi-part series. Read Part 1 here.

4. Conditioned to Compromise, Conform, Lie and Cheat to get the Grade, “Success”, The Positive Reinforcement Reward.

Students want so much to make the grade, get the score, have ‘success’, please the test givers, their parents, peers, audience and get the conditioned reward, that they confess to lying, cheating and stealing to do so…and being okay with their “ethic.”

Josephson Institute on Ethics…

  • Age: 17 or under (51%); 18-24 (36%); 25-40 (18%); 41-50 (11%); Over 50 (10%). Teens are five times and young adults (18-24) are three times more likely than those over 40 to hold the cynical belief that lying and cheating is necessary to success. This belief is one of the most significant and reliable predictors of dishonest behavior in the adult world.

“According to the Josephson Institute of Ethics 2010 survey of 43,000 young people, 92 percent of students were satisfied with their personal ethics and character. However:

While 89 percent of students believe that being a good person is more important than being rich, almost one in three boys and one in four girls admitted stealing from a store within the past year. Moreover, 21 percent admitted they stole something from a parent or other relative, and 18 percent admitted stealing from a friend.

On lying, more than two in five said they sometimes lie to save money (48 percent of males and 35 percent of females). While 92 percent of students believe their parents want them to do the right thing, more than eight in ten confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.

Rampant cheating in school continuesA majority of students (59 percent) admitted cheating on a test during the last year, with 34 percent doing it more than two times. One in three admitted they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.

In its 2008 report on the relationship between un-ethical behavior in school and unethical behavior as adults, the Josephson Institute of Ethics reported:

Regardless of current age, people who cheated on exams in high school two or more times are considerably more likely to be dishonest later in life. Compared to those who never cheated, high school cheaters are:

Three times more likely to lie to a customer (20% vs. 6%) or inflate an insurance claim (6% vs. 2%) and more than twice as likely to inflate an expense claim (10% vs. 4%).

Twice as likely to lie to or deceive their boss (20% vs. 10%) or lie about their address to get a child into a better school (29% vs. 15%) and one-and-a-half times more likely to lie to spouse or significant other (35% vs. 22%) or cheat on taxes (18% vs. 13%).” [4]


5. The problem with Digital media and the human brain

It is a basic practice that when cognition is low, “educators” use behavioral science.

When the client or student is low on cognitive skills, the mediator employs a system of currency, the rewards, and coercions to get them to learn, conform, and cooperate with the desired behavior. The stickers on the refrigerator, the ice cream after the doctor appointment, the candy, the rewards cards, coupons, the new video game, material enticement, whatever shiny object to attract and hold up as an external currency. This is how animals are trained with treats, or affection for a good performance. This is the external reward under the control of the giver of the reward to define “success” or failure and keep the student on the leash.

In order to keep cognition low, planners continue to employ behavioral science. The human brain is an information processor. Information to process is received via the sensory systems of sight, sound, smell, balance, proprioception, taste, temperature, and pain and converted to representations in the brain. Sensory information (stimuli) must be transduced from the various forms of receptors into electrical, chemical and structural changes within the brain. This involves encoding, organization, elaboration and integration with previous experiences and memories that are stored all over the brain, nervous system and muscle. This takes time to create an accurate representation in a brain and to catalog it for appropriate recall, analysis and application of reasoned thought. Information processing in the human is an analog process, not a binary, digital one. [9]

When human sensory systems receive too much information, too rapidly, from too many sources, with too much change in scenes, volumes, colors, too many visuals, the systems cannot handle the volume of stimuli. This overwhelms the system and it resorts to the emotional, limbic, survival centers of the brain. This is the same default for preconditioned responses, fear conditioning, stimuli that the amygdala has associated with previously fearful, traumatic, or unpleasant experiences. The Midbrain, functions primarily on an emotional, fight, flight, fright, reactionary, and survival oriented level. This is not cerebral cognition. This is not rational, reasoning, or thoughtful response.

This is the level of Operant Conditioning. Trained impulse reflexive behaviors. Like Pavlov’s dogs, and Skinner’s Utopianists. Success means survival in “The Call of The Wild” and in government subsidized “education” for 21st-century labor force development.

“A government strong enough to act in defiance of public feeling may disregard…for it is able to punish. But a government entirely dependent on opinion looks for some security as to what that opinion shall be, strives for the control of the forces that shape it, and is fearful of suffering the people to be educated in sentiments hostile to its institutions.” ~ Lord Acton (1834-1902) Essays in the History of Liberty

6. Forging Shackles: The Master – Slave or Patron – Proselyte Paradigm

The consequences of operant conditioning go beyond the immediate reinforcements. A student who tests well, will be offered monetary rewards, scholarships, special considerations in placement and in turn become indebted to his patrons. This is the simple master-slave relationship. The relationship becomes one of obligation of servitude to identify with one’s patron in funding, master in academia and their ideologies.

A student who receives an academic or merit scholarship is psychologically under obligation and angst to perform well in his studies, rank high in testing, and carry on the creed, in order to continue to receive the monetary rewards, subsidies, approbation and favors.  

Often these relationships result in references for future professional positions in academia, research consortia, networks or related positions in the intelligentsia, bureaucracy, or influential laborforce. By this time, the recipient has long lost their individuality and the patrons know it. These well-trained proselytes, high-performance pleasers, become the fiercest defenders of their patrons, mentors, system and alma maters in which they excelled, received recognition, approbation, and identity. They will quite often demonstrate an obeisance, a worship of the patrons and masters who have forged their chains.

To accept money from another creates a relationship in which the recipient is the slave and the donor the master. The slave will continue to carry the baggage. 

7. Big Money in Test Prepping

Students in public schools spend over half their school days in preparation for accountability testing. Student Outcomes on testing determine funding, program continuation, teacher and administration employment. Now that vouchers have infected many private schools, they too, spend days on end prepping to pass the state and national tests to make the grade to continue voucher dollars. Prepping vendors market videos, on-line courses, private tutoring, extended courses, test prep study guides, etc.

Parents shell out millions (thousands per student) to purchase Junior all the possible advantages to score high on the college placement, industry, and digital badge tests. They pay thousands of dollars in prep and continue to pay for taking the same exams repeatedly to keep raising scores. Practice does not make perfect, but it does create permanence in conditioning the logic of the test. Those that invest dollars in prepping to give the desired answers often get rewarded with higher scores. Test scores are often used to award monetary scholarships, which again reinforces the notion that it takes money to get more money. This also reinforces the attitudes expressed in the Josephson Institute Ethics studies on why students are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get the high scores. And why so many go on to lie, cheat, and rationalize their unprincipled actions later in life. They’ve been ‘rewarded,’ conditioned to do so.

8. Academia reinforces the notion that there is No Absolute Truth.

In a survival oriented society of animals, the concept of moral absolutes, or absolute truth has little bearing. It is survival of the fittest, might makes right, the Darwinian dogma promoted by socialists that invaded campuses over a century ago.

Humanists (B.F. Skinner signed the Humanist Manifesto II) aligned with Marxist philosophies have labored toward creating a Utopia. They continue efforts to systematically transform humans to fit their idealized Utopian society.

The Academy for Systemic Change, promoting the utopian plans of MIT systems engineers, Peter Senge and Joe Hsueh, provides insightful systems maps to produce their “Effective Responsible Happy Citizens” goals. “The goal is to invest in various high-leverage points to the extent where the system tips to self-sustaining change processes.” [8]

Those key leverage points consist of: Peer Pressure Network Loops and Student Testing Outcomes.

In his book, The Fascist, His State, His Mind, E.B. Ashton points out that the Germans and Italians embraced fascism because the mindset of the people was such that they wanted it. Focusing on material goods, productivity, and prosperity as coordinated and distributed by the state, removed from the people the need to think. Citizens under Mussolini and Hitler’s National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party, had only to do, to obey, to be “Effective Responsible Happy Citizens” just as the Academy for Systemic Change envisions for our citizens today.

The problem with conditioning citizens using awards, stickers, degrees of expertise and positions of authority in business and bureaucracy is that they eventually begin to believe they really are experts, above the law, above their fellow citizens, above God. This is what Chuck Colson said had allowed him to lie, cheat and steal during the 1970’s Watergate scandal and what the German Academics said allowed them to take the oath to the Nazi party. Their extensive education had taught them that they could rationalize away their principles, their faith, their consciences and convictions of right and just as defined by God.

[4] http://josephsoninstitute.org/surveys/




[8][Academy for Systemic Change Common Core State Standards Systems Map Version 2013.6.13]

[9] https://dawnkazmierzak.net/2016/09/08/the-digital-dictatorships-formation-of-mastered-minions-the-road-to-serfdom/

To be continued.

Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

It was (and is), the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in her opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Concerning Education Savings Accounts

Over the past five years there has been a shift towards Republican control of state governments. Today, there are 31 Republican governors and 22 states where Republicans also hold both houses of the legislature (Nebraska has a unicameral legislature). Indiana is a state which not only has a Republican governor and state legislature but also super-majorities in both the senate and the house. Consequently, policy ideas associated with the Republican party are being tested in many states.

For homeschoolers the area of concern are changes in education policy. It should be no surprise that Republicans are reforming education by introducing measures to enhance the concept of “school choice”. The most sweeping change recently occurred in Nevada where every student enrolled in a public school for a minimum of 100 days now has access to a voucher style Education Savings Account (ESA). These accounts allow parents to choose alternative education options with taxpayer provided education funds.

While it should be noted that historically homeschoolers have not been particularly concerned with how the state distributes taxpayer funds to provide education to children within the public system, the distinctions today are becoming muddied, often by well-intentioned people.

Nevada’s program has caused a debate among homeschoolers because a homeschool family could gain access to the $5,000 per child per year account if they rescind their Notification of Intent to Homeschool, enroll their child in a public/charter school for 100 days, apply for an ESA and then use the money to enroll the child in a private school or provide a “home-based education” themselves under the regulation of the Nevada State Treasurer. The money is used as a way to control parents’ decisions.

States are spending in excess of $10,000/student for a public school education. Are we seeing excellent results for the use of this money? The government is desperate for “school choice”, but in reality what difference is there when all schools receive taxpayer money and are subject to the same accountability? True “school choice” is giving families the option of choosing their own curriculum and doing what is best for their children without government involvement. Homeschoolers have proved how well it has worked for decades!

ESAs are the carrot, but the stick will follow every home educator as the state political climate changes and those who seek to control every aspect of education a child receives (from cradle to college) convince parents and voters it is in the “best interest of the child”. SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

It is important to note that in reality the new Nevada law actually created a 4th “education option” for parents to meet the compulsory attendance law. Now Nevada children between the ages of 7 and 18 will be classified as a “public school, private school, homeschool, or ESA Opt-in” child. Each of these four education options have their own statutes under which they operate. However, the media continues to falsely call a government controlled “Opt-in Child” the same as homeschooling. While the two may use similar methods for educating the child, they are NOT the same in that one receives tax-payer funding and  therefore accountable to the government for the education of the child (Opt-in) and the other is not (homeschooling). This is clearly a freedom issue for parents to carefully consider before signing up for “free” money.

As with every program providing taxpayer funds to K-12 education there are inevitably strings attached. To use Nevada as an example, to utilize the ESA Grant Program the child is required to take an annual standardized test beginning the first year he/she applies for the grant. For many families, this may appear to be a small burden in return for the financial assistance but it is important to remember that laws and requirements can change over time and the burden placed on students utilizing ESA’s could become increasingly heavy as the government seeks to impose more accountability. For example, Nevada’s new law requires that all ESA recipients take either common core-aligned tests given to public school students OR “any norm-referenced achievement examinations in mathematics and English language arts”. However, in one legislative session that option could be struck from the law.  Nevada’s ESA law was carefully amended to distinguish a “homeschool child” from an “ESA opt-in child” to protect parents who choose NOT to utilize the ESA grant program and educate their children through the homeschool option. Depending on how an ESA program is structured in other states, it could be used to regulate all homeschoolers.

As we look ahead to the upcoming legislative session in Indiana we should be aware that a voucher-style ESA reform measure is likely to be introduced. It will most likely be focused on public school students with special needs similar to the Arizona ESA Program which is not as “broad” as Nevada’s program. We need to watch for bills that other states have seen that “DIVIDE” homeschoolers since it will pit home educators against each other – one group that has a no-government involvement policy and those who take taxpayer money with strings attached. It weakens and divides our community.

IAHE will be closely monitoring the progress of this potential legislation to make sure the rights of parents who choose not to participate are protected.

*In some states these are known as education scholarship accounts.

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