2015 Legislative Round-up

Partners in advocacy advance our mission

It was a strong legislative session in support of Hoosier kids this year, and we’re thrilled that our representatives and senators listened–and responded–to nonpublic school concerns. Here’s a check list of accomplishments this year:

  • Removed artificial cap of $4,800 on Choice Scholarships for elementary students (there remains a cap of 90 percent of the per-student state funding for the student’s school corporation of residence). √
  • Scholarship-granting organization (SGO) tax credits bumped to $8.5 million next year, and $9.5 million the next. √
  • Grants for nonpublic schools to pay for formative assessments such as the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Dibels (ask your kindergarten teacher about Dibels). √
  • Increased funding for special-education Choice Scholarships. √
  • A committee to study state reporting on schools. √
  • A study group to look at alternatives to ISTEP testing, √

 

In addition, The Lutheran Schools Partnership was commended by the Friedman Foundation, not only for the success of our first School Choice Rally, but also for our overall efforts to voice the needs and opinions of our school families (not an easy task for us quiet Lutherans). Jon Dize and I even enjoyed face-to-face visits with key legislators. But much of the thanks for this year’s successes go out for the continued support we’ve received from the Indiana Non-Public School Association (INPEA).

INPEA, established in 1974, serves more than 400 nonpublic schools in the state of Indiana through advocacy, professional development, and consultation. INPEA serves on the front lines in the public-policy arena and has been at the forefront in the establishment and implementation of Indiana’s Choice programs.

A key goal of INPEA has been to engage nonpublic school communities in a grassroots effort to provide a nonpublic school voice at the Statehouse. Indiana has been blessed by legislation that has enabled more than 30,000 students to attend the private school of their choice. To maintain and protect these programs, all those who believe that families should be able to choose a school that’s best for their children must engage by contacting their elected representatives.

TLSP has been a strong and committed INPEA partner on a variety of fronts. Joshua Sommermeyer (Concordia Lutheran High School assistant principal), Jon Dize (director of advancement for TLSP), Dr. Jon Mielke (an executive for the Indiana District of the LCMS), and I (I’ll be chair of the INPEA starting in July) all serve on the INPEA board.

“To our many TLSP friends … thank you!” says John Elcessor, INPEA’s executive director. John has over 30 years of experience in private-school administration and works with the General Assembly, Indiana Department of Education, and the Indiana State Board of Education on our behalf. We’re thankful for his leadership and the many ways he works to help our nonpublic schools grow in Indiana. John and his wife, Jill, live in Indianapolis. They have two children. Anna attends Miami of Ohio University, and Zach is a freshman at Bishop Chatard High School.

Thanks to everyone–our partnering organizations, our schools and churches, our state legislators, and our families–for their efforts to further School Choice and Lutheran education.