Enhancing education for young Hoosiers

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Sunday, May 24, 2015

The coming of spring means that the 2015 legislative session is ending. It is encouraging to see how much the General Assembly has accomplished since January. The House proposed budget allocates more money to education than ever before, public safety programs have been prioritized as well as many other initiatives benefitting Indiana. However, with our April 29th deadline rapidly approaching, we still have much to accomplish before the 2015 legislative session comes to a close.

Spring also means that many students across the state are preparing to graduate from high school. I would like to extend my congratulations to each graduating student for their hard work and dedication. Among the legislation considered this session, two bills concerning graduating high school students have successfully passed both chambers and one has even been signed into law by the governor.

The first is House Bill (HB) 1194 which assists students with special needs in receiving a high school diploma. The bill requires school officials to discuss with the student and their parent the types of diplomas offered, the course requirements for each type and the employment and career options available, prior to entering high school. In addition, the student’s individualized education program must include the type of diploma they will seek and the courses that will allow them to do so in a timely manner. The student’s teacher must also communicate with the student’s parent at least one time each grading period to discuss their progress toward the selected diploma.

The bill also requires the Core 40 subcommittee of the Indiana Career Council to recommend to the General Assembly changes that could be made to course requirements for each type of diploma. This works to ensure that every student who seeks a diploma will have enough flexibility in their schedule to pursue a college or career pathway based on their individual goals, knowledge, skills and abilities.

This legislation is very important for students with special needs; some of which are unable to achieve a diploma under current requirements but are more than capable of receiving one. Because they have been unable to earn diplomas, however, they are limited in their ability to apply for certain jobs. HB 1194 ensures that each student can receive a diploma that accurately represents his or her achievements and abilities, allowing them to continue succeeding after high school.

The second bill, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1042, is aimed at assisting high school graduates who are pursuing higher education. Over the years, the cost of tuition has greatly increased. HEA 1042 requires postsecondary educational institutions to provide each student with information about their loans including the total amount, the potential total payoff amount and monthly repayment amounts. Many students are paying more in loans than their education requires without realizing it. Because of this, the amount of debt students incur for their education is growing greater and greater. The intent behind this legislation is to improve a student’s understanding of the education loan process and the costs and benefits of higher education. HEA 1042 will go into effect on July 1.

Providing for future generations of Hoosiers is one of my top priorities as a lawmaker, and these two pieces of legislation reflect that goal. As session comes to a close this year, I want to take a moment to thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions with me throughout the process. Your feedback helps me make the best decisions for our district. I am here to serve you, and your opinions matter to me. Please continue to contact me at 317-232-9509 or h31@iga.in.gov.

-30-

Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.