With the start of August comes the beginning of a new school year and opportunities for students to learn and grow. To help drive student achievement and prepare young Hoosiers for the workforce, I supported new laws that focus on teaching employability skills, expanding STEM education and streamlining diploma options.
The Department of Workforce Development estimates that Indiana will need to fill roughly 1 million jobs by 2022. Currently, nearly half of employers report having job openings unfilled because many applicants are under-qualified.
To help fill these positions, a new law incorporates interdisciplinary employability skills into every school corporation’s curriculum. This will better ensure students gain the valuable interpersonal and workforce skills needed to secure a job. Teaching students about effective communication, problem solving and workplace etiquette will prepare them for their job search and increase their employability.
In Indiana, many of the available job openings are in the computer science industry, with employees needed in areas related to technology, manufacturing, banking and even agriculture. To give students an opportunity to develop skills, a new law ensures computer science courses are offered to Hoosiers at all K-12 public schools. By tasking all public and charter schools with offering a computer science course as an elective at least once each school year by 2021, Indiana students can develop the skills needed in these high-demand areas.
The law also establishes the Next Level Computer Science Grant Program to help local schools train and prepare teachers to instruct the computer science courses.
Another new law creates a single diploma option for high school students, giving them more control and flexibility to pursue an academic path fitting their career plans. An additional diploma option will be available for students with severe disabilities.
Currently, math courses like Algebra II are reported as one of the most common barriers to achieving a diploma, even though they are not always needed for students pursuing careers or technical training after high school. To address this, the new law also gives the State Board of Education the ability to provide additional math course options to meet the needs of students.
I wish our students and educators a successful and productive school year. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-232-9793.
State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
A high resolution photo of Bartels can be downloaded by clicking here.