Cook: Strengthening Indiana’s education system

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Tuesday, April 2, 2019

I have devoted most of my life to education, and I continue to do everything I can as a lawmaker to support both students and teachers. I am sponsoring several Senate bills to better serve students after they graduate and streamline teacher training requirements.

When students graduate from high school, they are often unsure of what they want to do next in life. I am sponsoring Senate Bill 158 to develop the Indiana Youth Service Program for recent high school graduates. This program would provide young Hoosiers an opportunity to explore growing career options in Indiana, learn various skills and figure out their next step.

Some students need more time after graduation to find a career or job they are passionate about. Allowing high school graduates to explore their options could help them stay enrolled in meaningful programs. Ivy Tech would coordinate with the Department of Workforce Development and the Commission for Higher Education to create the pilot program. Results of the program would be reported to the legislature to ensure students receive the skills needed to continue on a career path. By giving these young people access to opportunities outside a traditional classroom setting, they can determine which career path they want to pursue through hands-on learning.

It is also important to ensure teachers are using their time in school effectively. Currently, Indiana’s teachers must participate in a number of training and development programs so they are prepared to handle potential challenges in the classroom. I am sponsoring Senate Bill 508, which calls for an interim study committee to review teacher training requirements every five years. This is a companion proposal to legislation I authored, House Bill 1400, which would request an interim study of these requirements this year through 2022. Examining the obligations teachers must undergo regularly ensures educators are trained on relevant issues and the most up-to-date teaching methods. Any outdated or redundant requirements would be eliminated, reduced or streamlined. It is important to review professional development programs for teachers to find what needs to be renewed, and what is unnecessary and can be eliminated. This would ensure teachers spend more time in the classroom.

I am passionate about making Hoosier schools the best they can be. These bills are just a few of the efforts I am working on to provide Indiana’s children and teachers better experiences inside the classrooms and more opportunities outside of it. You can find more information on these bills and more at iga.in.gov. For any questions you have about this legislation, please contact me at h32@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9600.

-30-

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.

A high-resolution photo of Cook can be downloaded by clicking here.