SB 500–Because Who Needs Oversight? Or Civics?

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would think Indiana needs a bill like SB 500, but State Senator Pete Miller (R-Avon) evidently thinks accountability is a communist plot–and civics a “frill.” He says his bill will “return local control.” The nonpartisan Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY) says what it will really do is remove accountability from Hoosier schools. A few of the (many) things this bill provides:

  • It makes accreditation of schools voluntary and removes requirements for school improvement plans, including schools that have been designated as needing improvement.
  • It removes any reporting of demographics of students or any reporting of suspensions or expulsions, including the reasons for the suspension or expulsion.
  • It establishes a “school data board” that will review all data collection requirements with the aim to “combine, streamline, or eliminate” data reporting by schools. No information will be able to be mandated for school data collection unless it goes through this cozy little committee first.
  • It removes school safety reporting requirements including suspensions and expulsions for alcohol, weapons and drugs.

The measure also removes a number of regulations related to student safety, bullying and mental health awareness. SB 500 entirely removes the current rule against cyber-bullying using a school’s computer, computer system or computer network.

What I find particularly outrageous at a time when Indiana ranks in the bottom tier of states in civic literacy and voter turnout, the bill also removes the requirement that instruction be provided in both public and nonpublic schools on the United States Constitution or the Indiana Constitution.

There’s much, much more. The bill eliminates parents’ ability to review instructional materials, and takes away a variety of other rights that parents have come to expect. But the major thrust of the bill is to stop making data on the schools’ academic and safety  performance available. As MCCOY notes,

Schools are required to compile and report certain types of data, particularly related to safety and discipline not only to protect students and inform parents and the public about how safe a school is, but also to ensure that they are providing high-quality education to all of their students and that certain students are not being left behind or excluded.

If they don’t have to report, parents and taxpayers will have no way of knowing how the schools are performing. I assume that’s the point. The GOP is constantly hyping school “choice,” but evidently they don’t want parents to have access to data that might actually inform that choice.

This bill is being heard Wednesday, January 28 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee in the Senate Chambers. Anyone who can attend should make every effort to be there.

To view the bill in its entirety, visit:


  1. The basics of this bill and repercussions if passed, need to be posted on Facebook and all other social media outlets. We all know the Gannett owned Star and local news casts will not tell the truth.

    Too much about our local public education system has lost structure and control of tax dollars needed to provide quality education and protection to the majority of students due to Daniels/Pence/Ballard controlling everything with their own system. I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren being educated in this city; some being force-fed religious education not of their parent’s choosing. I also have grandchildren being home schooled to get them out of the system. Working parents can no longer be involved in their children’s education as in years past; they must rely on elected officials to provide quality education and not hide the lack of quality provided with the current political control or bills such as SB 500 which would remove accountabiity from the system.

  2. The republicans always campaign on the economy and jobs and a better life for Hoosiers. Then after the elections are behind them they ALWAYS focus their energy (not sure intellect applies) on writing and passing bills like this. Look at some of the others: constitutional right to hunt and fish, e.g. It’s truly disgusting and then there are the ethics questions……what a bunch of losers, except at election time.

  3. The Great Oligarchy Plot has wandered far off the path of being an American Political Party.

    It’s a business pure and simple buying up votes through big media advertising paid for by wealthy clients who use those votes to empower subservient political puppets in order to make make money.

    The clients of the G.O.P. business have no trouble paying billions for the privilege of puppet politics but hate spending millions on taxes because in their ignorance they believe it would be cheaper if they could just purchase from other companies the infrastructure services that they need when they need them so living in a particular country is superfluous to them.

    They see the puppets as stock not as fellow Americans.

    The G.O.P. realizes that their business requires stock to be ignorant as well as subservient. So they invest some of their revenue in institutions like the NRA and evangelical churches and Internet pseudoscience to ensure a continuous supply of fresh ignorance and subservience. In other words the only difference between them and some of their global competition like African war lords and Middle Eastern Mullahs is the degree that they use clear and present physical intimidation as a tool. They have found that those methods are legally intolerable here and, frankly, not needed, so great is their ability to mentally cower ignorant subservient stock. Their herd dogs seduce with pleasure as well as control with fear of the future. Pull vs push.

    So we have the cult. Oligarchs, political puppets, and ignorant subservient stock. Like all business they must grow to survive. But, like all countries America has to to defend itself from them in order to survive.

    There is America’s next few decades in a nutshell.

  4. I am absolutely, positively horrified by the removal of the requirement to teach the Constitution. I had to click over to the bill text to see it with my own eyes. What possible justification could they make for that?

  5. Interesting…and yet in 2013 he drafted a bill on school and student safety and was concerned with bullying and mental health services. That bill got hijacked by gun thumpers who wanted to put in the bill to authorize teachers carrying guns and allowing for gun carrying volunteers to walk the schools for safety. Now, he has a bill that strips safety, education, etc…. I think Pete in the comment section is right. Shameful.

  6. I have tried to summon a reason for the right-wing, “conservative”, Tea Party owned GOP to be targeting our children. This is difficult to do because my brain just cannot function on their level of lack of reasoning. The only possibility I could come up with is that they want to indoctrinate them young; preparing these future leaders to follow in their footsteps…which are leading us nowhere but backward into the 20th Century.

  7. Shouldn’t Gov. Pence’s proposed news network also be mentioned in this discussion? No conflict of interest there. Also, it gives the conservatives an opportunity to create a propaganda machine that will confound attempts at fact-checking and will allow the Gov. to provide only the news that is useful to him. We’re almost at the doorstep of Nazi germany.

  8. “If the general public doesn’t understand science and technology, then who is making all of the decisions about science and technology that are going to determine what kind of future our children live in, some members of congress? There are only a handful who have any background in science at all, and some of them don’t even want to know about it.”

    – Carl Sagan

  9. This bill sounds like it may have come from private for-profit school corporations that want to keep making profits without having to do any educating at all. They have chosen Sen Pete Miller as their puppet to create the bill. Does he possibly have ownership or stock in one of the for-profit corps?

    This is crazy enough that it just might get passed in Indiana.

  10. CNN Update: “Voices of Auschwitz” has been moved to Wednesday evening on CNN. Check your local listings. It is a shame it could not have been shown on the actual 70th anniversary of the liberation: January 27, 1945. It is well worth watching as the dwindling number of actual survivors tell their stories. Bless Steven Spielberg for his sensitive retelling of the situation around Auschwitz and the importance of “Schindler’s List”. How dare anyone say that this never happened?

  11. I’ve written my senator who is on the Education Committee (alas, not a Republican) and my representative. Surely, among the ludicrous bills that fail to serve the common good and public interest, this ranks among the top. I’m hoping that some sanity will prevail and this thing will get dumped into holding tank hell.

    When I die, and the ones that follow me ask what I did to stop the disaster, they will be able to refer to the pile of answered letters to senators and congressmen. This is a ship of fools.

  12. You can bet ALEC wrote the bill. Pence is not that smart. He concentrates his efforts on styling District approved hair.

  13. My first reaction was to very selfishly rejoice that my daughter has completed public school and is now off to college. This is truly a disaster. And the callousness of the laws passed in Indiana (with the help of the greatest christians alive–just ask them) without objection are then exported to other states.

  14. SB 500, what can I say? In the interest of making at least a quasi-informed comment, late last evening, I pulled up the bill in its entirety as per Sheila’s link and gave it my best shot. I realize that SB 500 touches on removing mandatory accreditation for K-12 schools; however, if that occurs in Indiana, it sets an undesirable precedent whereby post-secondary schools sooner or later will expect a similar voluntary accreditation.

    Accreditation IS a big deal for both K-12 schools and for institutions of higher learning. Just a quick search on the website of the North Central Association of Higher Learning for accredited Indiana post-secondary schools should be a must-do for any student before enrolling, paying tuition to a school that may not be accredited, meaning any credits from that school will not be accepted at another institution of higher learning. At present, there appears to be only one Indiana post-secondary institution on probation.,199/form_submitted,TRUE/institution,/showquery,/siteOrg,none/state,IN/submit,Search/

  15. Regional accreditation is the educational accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities in the United States by one of the six regional accreditors. Each regional accreditor encompasses the vast majority of public, and not-for-profit and for-profit private educational institutions in its region. They accredit and include among their members, elementary schools, junior high schools, middle schools, high schools, public and private universities, colleges, and institutions of higher education that are academic in nature.

    What parent or what person in his/her right mind would enroll a child in a school or college in the US that was not accredited?

    These are the regional accrediting agencies for educational institutions in the United States:

    1) Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools – Educational institutions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as schools for American children in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

    2) New England Association of Schools and Colleges – Educational institutions in the six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont).

    3) North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – Educational institutions in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

    4) Northwest Accreditation Commission for primary and secondary schools and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities for post-secondary institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

    5) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Educational institutions in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.

    6) Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Educational institutions in California, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Micronesia, Palau, and Northern Marianas Islands, as well as schools for American children in Asia.

  16. There’s more wisdom with SB 562 (I think it is) on “critical thinking skills” and controversial topics. I’ve read it twice and still can’t figure out how it’s not ridiculously vague and meaningless.

  17. After reading SB 500 via the link shared by Sheila, I posted a comment to Senator Miller via his Facebook page. The following day he responded to my comment where he touted a few obscure provisions that made no sense to me, absolutely none. Here’s the link to the FB posting, not sure if it will open for those who do not maintain a Facebook page.

  18. Barbara; I read your astute comments to Sen. Miller and his brief response which contains the explanation for SB 500 – and the majority of Republican thinking and action over the past 10 years or more. He states, “…I imagine…” – yes, yes, yes! There is the crux of the problem! He and all other Republicans “imagine” what the issues are comprised of, “imagine” their responsibility and obligation to the constituents who elected them, “imagine” the conditions under which most Indiana residents and Americans are forced to live and then “imagine” solutions.

    They are so far removed from reality they have no other recourse but to “imagine” issues and answers. I “imagine” they are all well paid for this by the 1% and will continue being elected by voters who “imagine” Republicans are doing their job to save us from Democratic reality.

  19. Just because this bill was sponsored by a Republican, please don’t assume all Republicans would go for it. As a former teacher, parent of a preschool child, and a Republican/conservative, I think this bill sounds crazy. I can understand eliminating some red tape where it’s unnecessary, but this is going too far.

  20. Though disheartening this bill is not surprising. There is a silent and swift movement to remove the most basic of rights. For more on situations like this watch The United States of ALEC and Koch Brothers Exposed.

  21. Using phrases like “cozy little committee” makes you sound like a partisan hack with a personal motive. From that point on, as a stranger to you, I don’t know if I can trust anything you have to say. Try to be professional when discussing such an important topic. I’m no better off after reading this than I was before.

  22. This reminds me of Putin announcing that “stage one has been completed” when he took his original oath of office after Yeltin. He was half joking – now we know he wasn’t joking at all. This is a step following the choice program to completely and utterly obliterate public school education in Indiana. And like Hitler did, the Indiana GOP is using legal ways of doing it. First work on funding – create a system where funding is obscured – all in one pot but draw into separate and unequal/politically favored . Second, make systems less responsible globally (you know that losing responsibility in your job is a prelude to being fired – coming from experience!). So, you take away the basic responsibilities or the require to respond to the clients (re: parents) and the system is all of a sudden obsolete or inconsequential. Perfect. Now it is either dysfunctional or not necessary – both fitting the profile of a need to abandon it or eliminate it. Koch and ALEC are made up of some very smart people – Indiana is completely overmatched and makes for a fine incubator for these ideas. And they are looking for 270 electoral votes.

  23. My generation has been fucked over by congress so much Im starting to feel that’s part of the republican agenda

  24. IT IS part of the Republican’s Agenda. Stupid, uneducated people pumped full of lies, propaganda, hate and prejudice are easier to control than and educated, informed electorate.

  25. It would be nice if the party affiliation would be removed as the focus of attention. Speaking of attention, if you’ve been paying any you’ll notice both major parties are full of crap and sincerely do not have your best interests at heart. Hold the bill and the person accountable. To blindly say, “all these guys are jerks but all these guys have the right idea” is a bit naive.

  26. It doesn’t seem conservative at all to grant bureaucrats the right to close doors and delete records and hide from accountability. This isn’t “deregulation” in any normal meaning of the term. Bureaucrats are public servants paid with taxpayer dollars and need to be held to high standards open to public scrutiny. Why are Republicans trying to enable corruption?

  27. SB 500 removes requirements for guidelines for quality education and leaves the accreditation of school to a voluntary level. The primary interest of the local GOP is to remove as much responsibility and control as they possibly can from Glenda Ritz who was duly elected Superintendent of Education. Their interest is not education – it is GOP control- even if it is on a nonsense level. The House Bill removing Ritz’s responsibility as chair is moving forward per the article in the Indianapolis Star this morning. It is above Erika Smith’s column, “What’s the real cost of silly bills?” which refers to the “religious freedom” bill (which acts against the religious freedom of many) and the bill pushing for the “Office of Marriage Promotion”. They are making inroads into our voting rights, our employment rights and our personal relationship rights. What will their next target be?

  28. JoAnn, the driving force of school reform in Indiana and across the Nation is bi-partisan and has pitted Democrat against Democrat and has made for some strange bedfellows as per the ISTA (Indiana State Teachers Association) aka the union’s endorsement for the right-wing Waltz.

    Going back to the 2012 election cycle, consider that the ISTA not only was at odds with the Democrat nominee for Indiana Senate, Rep Mary Ann Sullivan, the union went so far as endorsing the Republican nominee, Brent Waltz, who represented everything many Democrats abhorred and won the election. Sen Waltz was endorsed by the ISTA, the Teamsters, the Construction and Trades unions, the Indiana Right to Life, and the NRA. Like I said, strange bedfellows indeed.

    School reform and unions mix about as well as oil and water. Shortly after the 2012 election, the Indiana Democrats for Education Reform (IDER) either disbanded or at least removed its website. Tony Bennett, the incumbent Supt of Education, was widely disliked, and a vote for Glenda Ritz was basically a vote against Bennett and not for her perceived visions for Indiana’s public schools. Hence, the continuing problematic relationship with Ms Ritz and her short-time as the Supt of Public Instruction.

  29. Barbara; do you really believe the Republicans would be seeking the same changes had a Republican been elected? Bennett was beginning to become detrimental to his own party.

  30. JoAnn, I describe Tony Bennett as the poster boy for School Reform on Steroids. Yes, his brash manner of pushing reform was a detriment to the the students in the IN Public Schools, too much, too soon, and definitely too fast. I’m unaccustomed to viewing a State Supt of Public Instruction as either Democrat or Republican, and Indiana is the first state among the four states where I’m licensed that actually elects the Supt of Instruction and thereby naturally brings politics into the Dept of Education at the highest level. Can you imagine the outcome of a large school corporation/district like IPS depending upon a partisan election for its Superintendent? Now, expand that thought for basically the same result at the State level.

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