Cutting red tape in Hoosier education

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Monday, April 13, 2015

As we near the end of the 2015 legislative session, we have continued to make Hoosier education our highest priority. This is reflected in the proposed House budget, in which we have allocated the most money ever to education funding. We have also passed various other bills that will give Hoosier children even more opportunities for success and encourage teachers in their work. One bill in particular will provide effective assistance to educators throughout the state. Senate Bill (SB) 500 will cut red tape in Hoosier education and make it easier for Indiana’s education professionals to do their jobs effectively.

The education section of the Indiana Code is currently over 1,300 pages. While some of these regulations are necessary to effectively educate our children, others are not. There are instances of repetition or obsolete requirements that create unnecessary hoops for educators to jump through. The General Assembly recognized that our education laws need to be updated, and SB 500 is our answer.

The bill is the result of more than a year and a half of study and work to determine the best way to improve Indiana’s education law. We surveyed 27 school districts of various sizes across the state and used their direct input to determine which areas of the law are unnecessary, obsolete or burdensome. The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents and the Indiana School Board Association also provided their expertise to the discussion.

School deregulation begins by repealing regulations in the Indiana Code that are unnecessary to provide our children with a high-quality education. These regulations are creating extra work for educators that is not adding value for students and takes up time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. Some examples of burdensome regulations include requiring schools to report their absence policies and summer enrichment programs.

School districts are required to submit approximately 62 reports per year on a variety of topics. These reports take time and money that could be put more directly toward the education of our children. By eliminating some of the reports, the process will be more streamlined in the future. Another regulation we have removed is requiring school libraries to stock free materials for students and parents. This is a burdensome cost to schools and unnecessary for successful education.

SB 500 also creates a School Data Reporting Committee that will continue to cut red tape for schools in Indiana. The 10-member board will ensure that SB 500 is not a one-time fix for education law, but rather an enduring policy of deregulating education wherever and whenever possible. The General Assembly’s goal is to make it easier for teachers to educate and for students to learn.

I appreciate your feedback on this and other important issues affecting our state. You can find more information about SB 500 and other legislation at our website, www.indianahouserepublicans.com. Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns at 317-232-9643 or at h91@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Marion and Hendricks counties. He also serves as Chairman of the Education Committee.