Bartels: Changes coming to help students, educators, schools

Friday, January 3, 2020

As we begin the 2020 legislative session, I will address three issues to support educators this year, including holding educators and schools harmless for ILEARN test results, improving the teacher licensing renewal process, and reducing the number of mandates placed on teachers and schools.

First, I would like to see teachers and schools held harmless for the first round of ILEARN test scores. Standardized testing does not fully capture the hard work and successes of our students and educators. To those concerned that teachers and schools will be unfairly penalized for low ILEARN test scores, Gov. Holcomb and lawmakers are prioritizing legislation to lessen the impact of these initial test results. My priority continues to be preparing students for life after high school, whether they enter the workforce immediately or continue their education, and I am taking a hard look at our overall state accountability system.

I recently met with educators from Crawford, Perry and Spencer County High Schools to discuss ways lawmakers can better support them and address a few of the concerns voiced during Red for Ed Day at the Statehouse. A theme I hear from educators is that many are unhappy with a new law altering one of four teacher licensing options by having those who choose the Professional Growth Plan route to dedicate 15 hours out of 90 to exploring their local community or state’s workforce needs.

I do believe the law helps ensure our students are better prepared for success beyond high school, but legislators should take a second look at this policy on behalf of educators of lower grades. I will support legislation making these 15 hours of licensing requirements optional.

During the Red for Ed day, educators and constituents asked the state to “demonstrate a commitment to addressing pay by using the state’s budget surplus.” I supported and voted to use $150 million of our state’s reserves to pay down the teacher pension fund, freeing up thousands of dollars locally to be used for 2019 teacher pay increases.

I have discussed removing ILEARN test scores from individual teacher evaluations along with removing the requirement that a school corporation’s annual performance evaluation plan must be based, in part, on objective measures of student achievement. A colleague in the House, who is also a former superintendent will be presenting such language, which I support.

My goal is to make sure teachers have the resources and support they need to help our students grow and reach their full potential. There are currently too many state and national reporting requirements that hinder our teachers’ ability to educate our students. I am continually looking to support legislation that would ease the burden on teachers and schools by streamlining required state mandated reporting requirements.

I am confident that the General Assembly and the governor will come together to address these and other issues that will continue our support for educators and schools.

I want to thank our teachers and schools for the critical work they are doing, and those who met with me to discuss their needs. Please reach out to me with additional input at h74@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9802.

-30-

State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes all of Crawford and Perry counties and portions of Dubois, Orange and Spencer counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.