Cook: Committed to supporting our young Hoosiers

Posted by: Andi Sommers  | Thursday, February 25, 2021

From fully funding our students to passing a balanced budget, lawmakers have been working tirelessly this session to craft legislation addressing issues that matter most to Hoosiers. Now that the Indiana General Assembly session has reached its halfway point, it is time for bills to switch chambers and allow members in the House to consider Senate bills and the Senate to examine House bills. As a former teacher and school superintendent, supporting students continues to be a priority of mine as I author bills that would incorporate civics education into the middle school curriculum and increase transparency of school performance.  

We know our democracy is dependent on Hoosiers engaging in every level of government. Students usually take a government class their senior year of high school, but House Bill 1384 would incorporate civics education into students' curriculum sooner. Under this legislation, students would be required to take at least one semester of a civics education course in grades 6, 7 or 8. This legislation comes from the Civics Education Task Force, which I served on last year, to identify specific, actionable, recommendations based on research and ideas from around the country and state.

Another bill I am working on this session aims to increase transparency in school performance. House Bill 1514 would require schools to publish their overall scores from benchmark assessments on a statewide dashboard on the Indiana Department of Education's website. When AP exams, ILEARN scores or other factors are posted online, parents have an opportunity to better understand how their school's performance compares to others around the state. This bill would also do away with the costly and ineffective state takeovers of schools that receive failing accountability grades. Under this legislation, schools would also be held harmless for from ILEARN test results and receive a "null" grade during the 2021-2022 school year.

These bills are critical in making sure students are ready to be civically engaged in their community and families understand how their child's school is performing in comparison to other districts around our state. Both House bills still have a long way to go, as we are set to begin the next half of our legislative session. I am committed to seeing these bills cross the finish line. If you have any input about legislation or how I can better serve you and our community, feel free to reach out to me at H32@iga.in.gov

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State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32, which includes all of
Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.