What a difference nineteen new legislators can make. I have mentioned before that over the last two years as a freshman minority house member, there was not ample opportunity to be a part of legislation. As we near the end of the first month, already some major legislation is moving through the house. I have had several of my bills heard in committee, and this week I had my first bill passed. It is an insurance related bill that corrects some technical errors and creates some streamlines in the market but as to prevent me from lulling you to sleep, I'll stop there. The House moved forward on two important pieces of legislation this week as that will be my focus: charter schools and a statewide smoking ban.
I have had many people e-mail me or come up to me to express their opposition to charter schools, but on most occasions when I ask them why they oppose charter schools their response is, "Well, first tell me what a charter school is!" In a nutshell, a charter school is a public school that operates under a contract or charter. In Indiana, there are roughly 60 charter schools with a large portion chartered by Ball State University or the mayor of Indianapolis, Gregory Ballard. These schools offer parents and students an alternative to their local public school and are generally subject specific.
Currently, charter schools receive public funding for educational operations but do not receive funding for transportation or capital projects. Charter schools operate under the supervision of the Indiana Department of Education but are not subject to all the rules and administrative regulations that public schools must follow. Charter schools are providing many Hoosier students with an excellent alternative to the traditional public school. I know District 79 has many excellent schools and superb teachers. My support for charter schools, in particular House Bill 1002, is not driven by an aversion to public schools. The charters that I have toured offered a wonderful alternative for their geographical area of the state. For more information regarding charter schools I encourage you to visit www.doe.in.gov.