Parent: School Choice Voucher is Changing My Son’s Life

The following is the final post in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1). This is authored by Patty Scheitler, whose son has benefited from Indiana’s school choice voucher program. (This blog was submitted via Hoosiers for Economic Growth.)

The School Choice Indiana voucher program has opened up many doors for my son. He is able to attend a private high school (Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis), which has already provided him with the tools to succeed. He has very high hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor one day and it would be difficult to reach these goals at the public school he was to attend.

He is now able to take advanced classes, participate in community service projects throughout the city and travel through Brebeuf’s enrichment programs. He has already grown educationally and is challenged appropriately. He has been recommended for a self study program during his sophomore year and is so very excited about it. This opportunity will enable him to qualify for summer programs focusing on medicine and will enhance his chances of being accepted.

The teachers have been amazing and are available, caring and invested in the learning of each student. They take the time to meet and get to know each student on an individual basis and really want to see the student succeed. The voucher program also allows my son to grow as a person. He is exposed to more diversity at his new school and meeting students from all over the Indianapolis area. He has made friends with kids from different backgrounds, religious beliefs and educational experiences.

The main mantra at Brebeuf is “Men and Women for Others” — this quote really explains the feeling my son has at his new school. They really allow the students to reach out to their community and serve in many ways. They feel it is important to grow each student, spiritually, emotionally, physically and educationally. I love this approach and have never experienced anything like it in the public school setting. My son is also given the opportunity to participate in many sports and extracurricular activities. His school really encourages all to participate and most clubs meet during the day instead of after school, which provides more opportunities to participate.

We are so blessed to have received the choice voucher. Every day, my son says how much he loves Brebeuf and is so lucky to be able to attend such a wonderful school!

Klipsch: School Choice a Driver to Build Economic Success in Indiana

The following is the fourth in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1). This is authored by Fred Klipsch, former chairman and CEO of Klipsch Group, Inc. — one of the nation’s top speaker companies. He is chairman of the School Choice Indiana board of directors.

I received a solid education through the public school system in Indiana from elementary schiool through college. Both Indianapolis Public Schools and Purdue University provided me with a quality education that prepared me to succeed in business and in life.

Like all things, our public education system has dramatically changed over the last few decades since I was a student, and in my opinion it is no longer delivering the quality education today’s students need to compete in a global economy. At this stage of my life, I sincerely believe that every child, regardless of zip code or income, should have the opportunity to receive the same high quality education that I had. School choice is a tool to provide quality educational options to all parents. By creating competition in the education marketplace, it clarifies the need for public school systems to improve.

Business leaders are sometimes wary of supporting school choice, specifically “vouchers,” and they should not be. Indiana’s voucher program allows low and moderate income parents access to a private school education for their children — an educational option which previously was not available to them. Now parents can choose a quality education for their child in an environment that best meets their educational needs rather than, in many cases, having that child trapped in an underperforming public school.

From a businessman’s perspective, Indiana’s voucher program caps the voucher amount at no more than 90% of public school cost, thereby producing economic savings for the state. School choice is about much more than vouchers, however, and it is about options and competition in the education marketplace. More importantly, vouchers are fulfilling the state’s obligation to provide access to a high-quality education for all children to help deliver the skilled workforce needed for our economy to thrive.

As a nation, we have built our economic success on our belief in free markets. Why, as businessmen and businesswomen, would we not believe that educational success is best achieved through a similar setting? The startling truth is that Indiana students are performing in the middle of the pack when it comes to math and science. As a nation, we are not much better when compared to our global competitors.

We must constantly be working together to improve the quality of education that our young people are receiving, as they are the future business leaders of our state and nation. Supporting policies that provide families with educational options, allow for innovation in the classroom and free our teachers from unnecessary regulations, thereby allowing them to focus on the children, are some of the key initiatives of the education improvement movement. These are examples of why I chose to become more involved in promoting school choice in Indiana — and I urge other business and civic leaders to join me.

Indy/San Francisco Flight Ready for Takeoff; Needs Support from Business Travelers

Hoosier business leaders and Indiana travelers will soon be privy to a non-stop flight from Indianapolis to San Francisco on January 8 (and a direct flight already exists en route to Los Angeles). United Flights 317 and 500 (named for Indianapolis’ area code and the Indy 500) will be incredibly convenient to those in many industries.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) recently wrote:

With over 4,900 seats already reserved, we’re off to a great start, but it’s important to keep that momentum going.  The best way is to simply buy tickets and show your support.

It’s an incredible holiday gift that will certainly bring new opportunities and investment to the Hoosier State, and yet another reason Indiana is a state that works for business.

Indiana Chamber board member Michael Wells, who also serves as president of REI Investments and on the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board, explains the benefits of the flight.

“This will be very helpful for the tech community, like SalesForce.com (which recently acquired Indy-based ExactTarget) and others,” he notes. “It also will allow (venture capital groups) to fly into Indy in the evening, conduct business during the next day and catch a good connection back to the West Coast, leaving around 5 p.m. and still arriving at a decent hour due to the time zone.”

Wells adds that the San Francisco flight will serve as a connection to Asia, and connections are set up for convenient transfers for passengers.

TAKE NOTE: However, it’s critical that Indiana travelers and the business community use the flight if it’s to be continued beyond the next year, and the local market will need to prove it can support it. A release from IEDC reports:

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will provide United Airlines with a minimum revenue guarantee, consistent with industry standards and United’s business model, during the term of the one-year agreement. To accomplish this, the IEDC allocated $1.5 million in a reserve fund, which represents the state’s maximum financial exposure. No payments from the reserve fund will occur as long as the market’s support for the nonstop route equals or exceeds the minimum revenue guarantee.

Throwback Thursday: What’s a “Hoosier” Anyway?

I’d like to start this post by relaying that I am a proud member of the Indiana Historical Society (IHS). If you live in Indianapolis and haven’t been there, you’ve made a grave mistake. But you can still fix this. If you live in another part of the state, I highly recommend you make it a point to visit next time you’re in the capital city. It’s a tremendous facility, and there is much to be experienced there.

That said, every Indiana native has undoubtedly contemplated the meaning of the word “Hoosier,” and myriad theories have been offered. I once lived in Wyoming for a few years, and had a coworker from Missouri. She explained to me how the term was used in her home state as an insult to describe someone as being somewhat of a backwoods hillbilly. So naturally, I sabotaged her desk chair and had a good laugh when she fell over… no no, of course I didn’t, that wouldn’t be a very “Hoosiery” thing to do. (I simply and calmy explained to her that in actuality, Hoosiers are the best damn people on earth.)

At any rate, this post on the IHS web site is one of the more comprehensive looks I’ve seen. Which theory do you believe?

How did Indiana get its nickname as “The Hoosier State?” And how did people from Indiana come to be called “Hoosiers?” There are many different theories about how the word Hoosier came to be and how it came to have such a connection with the state of Indiana.

One of the earliest known uses of the term is found in an 1827 letter that states, “There is a yankee trick for you – done up by a Hoosier.” Other early uses provide some clues about the meaning of the word. In 1831, Gen. John Tipton received a proposal from a businessman offering to name his boat the “Indiana Hoosier” if Tipton would give him business in the area. Sarah Harvey, a Quaker from Richmond, explained in an 1835 letter to her relatives, “old settlers in Indiana are called ‘Hooshers’ and the cabins they first live in ‘Hoosher nests’ . . .”

The word “Hoosier” was widely used by the 1830s. Around this time, John Finley of Richmond wrote a poem called The Hoosier’s Nest, which was widely read. He wrote the word as “hoosher” and did not explain its meaning, which leads historians to believe that Finley felt his readers would already know and understand the word. Finley wrote, “With men of every hue and fashion, Flock to this rising ‘Hoosher’ nation.”

So, what does the word mean? In 1848, Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms defined “Hoosier” as “A nickname given at the west, to natives of Indiana.” In John Finley’s poem, the word “Hoosher” seems to refer less to the pioneers of Indiana and more to the qualities he thought they possessed, like self-reliance and bravery.

No one seems to know how the word “Hoosier” came to be. Some people think it was meant to mock Indiana as a rough, backwoods and backwards place. Others think that early settlers used the term with pride to describe themselves as a hearty, courageous group. One historian, Jacob Piatt Dunn, even suggested that the word “Hoosier” originally referred to boatmen who lived on the Indiana shore. We may never know for sure, but research and debate are likely to continue about this mysterious word.

The following theories and stories about the origin of the word “Hoosier” are known to be false:

  • It comes from the word Hoosa, which means American Indian maize or corn.
  • Hoosier’s Men was a term used for Indiana employees of a canal contractor named Hoosier.
  • “Who’s ear?” – Writer James Whitcomb Riley joked that this question, supposedly posed by early Indiana settlers following tavern fights which had resulted in someone’s ear being cut off and left on the floor, eventually became the word “Hoosier.”
  • “Who’s yer/here?” – This was supposedly the way early Indiana settlers would respond to a knock on their cabin doors. The story goes that it was eventually shortened to “Hoosier?”
  • “Who’s your [relative]?” – Again, legend has it that this question was eventually shortened to “Hoosier?”

Nothing Wrong with Gettin’ Dirty: Talking Career Options with Indiana High School Students

We had the pleasure of presenting Indiana Skills (and Indiana INTERNnet) to eight classes of Perry Meridian High School students recently. It was great to see the attention students paid to this important topic – we had students ask us about training for jobs in sonography, truck driving and public safety.

We had the added pleasure of being joined by Jack Hope, owner of Hope Plumbing in Indianapolis. Hope has become a terrific partner for us with his dedication to advocating middle-skill careers. We know the demand and the rewards are there, but we find that many students don’t understand their post-secondary options outside of four-year college.

“We’ve created this idea that if you’re getting your hands dirty that that’s somehow demeaning or not as helpful for your community,” said Hope on Inside INdiana Business. “I don’t think people appreciate hard work in the way they used to.”

See Hope’s full video interview with Inside INdiana Business.

Because Kids Count Conference Coming Dec. 3-4

For the past 12 years, the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) has hosted the largest gathering of youth workers and educators in the Midwest. The Because Kids Count Conference is a two-day, first-class conference experience packed with educational workshops, nationally recognized speakers, a resource tradeshow and amazing networking opportunities.

Academy Award-winning actor and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker will be the keynote speaker. Furthermore, Ready Indiana Executive Director Kris Deckard will be serving on a panel about the Technical Honors Diploma and workforce credentials/industry certifications.

We hope you'll join us in Indianapolis!

Register online.

Help Boston-bound Students Pursue Journalism Dreams

Until this week, I didn’t know about the Urban Media Institute at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, which provides inner-city high school students with media training opportunities. That all changed when I received an email about this amazing program.

Students are doing some pretty cool things. They’ve produced newspapers, a centennial yearbook and broadcasting segments with Channel 20, the local PBS affiliate. And they teamed with the Indiana Chamber to discuss the future of journalism with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein when that duo headlined our Annual Awards Dinner in 2012.

What’s next in these students’ “journalism journey?”

Fundraising efforts are underway for a trip to the National Scholastic Press Association’s (NSPA) Convention/Competition, “The Revolution Starts Here,” on November 14-17 in Boston. Students will hone their skills, network and learn from others. In short, it’s the experience of a lifetime. But without donations, the trip is out of reach. You can help students succeed by assisting in making this trip possible!

Learn more about the Urban Media Institute at Arsenal Technical High School and the NSPA trip (the deadline for donations is October 31) at www.cannonline.org.

The sky truly is the limit for these talented students – and for the Hoosier businesses that may one day employ them.

Jack the Plumber on the Realities of the Skills Gap

Jack Hope, owner of Hope Plumbing in Indianapolis, recently spoke to the Ready Indiana Advisory Council about his experience with the skills gap in the plumbing industry.

He explained the biggest issue he faces as an employer is finding qualified help. The candidate pool lacks applicable skills, and he said this problem is widespread among all skilled trade industries.

“Every time I talk to someone about plumbing, they comment on how gross it must be and every time I reply, ‘That is why they pay us the big bucks,’” Hope explains in his blog. “People, of course, think I am kidding, but the average starting salary for a licensed plumber in our shop is $45,000 per year with full health benefits, life insurance, a paid cell phone, a take home vehicle and matched retirement savings.”

You can learn find information about the plumbing industry in Indiana, including number of job postings broken down by region, most requested skills and average salaries, at www.IndianaSkills.com.

Don’t Miss the Upcoming Logistics Summit in Indy

We get it: Logistics is a big deal in Indiana. And it’s much more than the “Crossroads of America” moniker.

Logistics plays a key role in several goals within Indiana Vision 2025, the Indiana Chamber’s long-range economic development action plan. The sector employs more than 300,000 people across the state.

Help take logistics to the next level by participating in the 11th Annual Indiana Logistics Summit on October 9-10, co-hosted by Ports of Indiana, Purdue University and Conexus Indiana.

"Asia to Indiana Nonstop" will feature insights from Gov. Pence and state business leaders with a focus on the new intermodal service that could reduce supply chains by a week (BizVoice magazine introduced this initiative earlier this year). Highlights include education sessions (learn strategies to reduce your supply chain costs and more), networking opportunities and an expo.

The event will take place at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Learn more and register at www.indianalogistics.com.

Drum Corps Perform at Lucas Oil

This past Saturday, Indianapolis hosted my favorite event of the year, Drum Corps International’s (DCI) World Championship competition, and I spent the day downtown with my two sisters enjoying the amazing atmosphere.

We started the day, fairly early for a Saturday, at the DrumLine Battle on Georgia St. Fans, families and friends packed Georgia St. to watch the drumlines of 16 bands from around the world to compete for the championship title. All of the participating groups were great, and it was even fun to see the drumline for Center Grove High School compete and place second.

Later in the evening, we headed to join my mom and the group of Rushville Consolidated High School band members at Lucas Oil Stadium for the championship performances.

My mom and I were looking forward to watching the color guard of each corps, since we are both former members of color guards. However, my sisters were more interested in the band since one plays the mellophone and French horn and the other plays trumpet.

Of all 12 performances, one still sticks in my mind: Corps of Brothers – 75 Years of Survival, by the Madison Scouts. The Madison Scouts is an all-male group from Madison, Wis. and is one of the oldest continually operating drum corps. The show that the group did was a military theme that left audience members in awe and some in tears.

While the Madison Scouts were my favorite, they did not win. The winners were Carolina Crown from Fort Mill, S.C. with a show entitled E=MC².

If you did not have the opportunity to attend the DCI World Championships or the DrumLine Battle, I would suggest checking out some of the footage from the competitions. I would also highly suggest that you attend next year because it is a show that you will never forget.