Cook: House attracting more teachers to Indiana's classrooms

Posted by: Devan Strebing  | Friday, January 29, 2016 5:30 pm

Educational research consistently supports that the most significant factor to ensure student success in the classroom, is to provide students with a highly effective teacher with a vast array of skill sets. Hoosiers have a shortage of teachers in several areas, and especially in hard-to-fill positions, such as Science, Technology, English, Math (STEM), Speech-Language Pathologists and Special Education. I was privileged to co-author, in cooperation with author House Speaker Brian Bosma’s House Bill 1002. This proposal would establish the Next Generation Hoosier Educator Scholarship, which is designed to attract and secure some of our best secondary students into the teaching profession.

 

The House Education Committee and the full House of Representatives recently voted in support of the bill, which will now go to the Senate for consideration. Speaker Bosma and I spoke in committee to solicit support for the bill and it passed unanimously. My experience as a principal and superintendent has served me well when articulating to colleagues the need for educational improvements and initiatives.

 

House Bill 1002 would award scholarships up to the amount of $7,500 dollars per academic year to incoming college students who choose a career in teaching. This proposed scholarship bill would also help alleviate the college debt that would be incurred by these future educators.

 

The bill specifically establishes 200 scholarships to be awarded each year to top high school students who are either in the top 20 percent of their graduating class, or are in the top 20 percent of ACT and SAT testing. They also must meet on-going high standards while in college. The scholarship would provide up to $7,500 per academic year to a student that attends a college or university in Indiana, and the scholarship recipient must also agree to teach in an Indiana classroom for five years after graduating. There is a payback penalty of 20 percent per year for each year less than five taught.

 

To strengthen this bill, lawmakers also adopted an amendment submitted by author Bosma. This amendment was added after hearing testimony from a student currently in college, majoring in math, who would like to switch to a teaching major and, accordingly, be able to qualify for this type of scholarship. Speaker Bosma and I thought this was a good idea; consequently, the amendment was added and will allow current college students the opportunity to apply and receive the scholarship. This bill would be an excellent tool to attract the best and brightest students to the teaching field in Indiana, as similar bills have proven successful in other states.

 

As a former educator, I believe dedicated teachers are the key to student success in the classroom. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or input at h32@iga.in.gov or by phone at (317)232-9678.

 

 

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Rep. Cook represents all of Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.