Legislation to expand educational opportunities signed into law

Posted by: Courtney Bearsch  | Thursday, August 27, 2015

STATEHOUSE — Two new laws championed by State Representative Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville), which will expand educational opportunities for Hoosier students, have been ceremonially signed into law by the governor.

Among its various provisions, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1635 establishes a pilot program allowing grants to be used to improve school climate, including professional development and training to establish alternatives to suspension and expulsion.

“When a student is suspended or expelled, they are losing valuable time in the classroom which may cause them to lose focus,” said Rep. Mayfield. “By exploring appropriate alternatives to suspension and expulsion, we are seeking to improve the overall classroom environment while also focusing on the individual student and trying to keep them on a path to success.”

Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 267 established a Dual Language Immersion Pilot Program that provides grants to school corporations and charter schools that establish dual language programs in certain foreign languages, including Chinese, Spanish or French.

As a result of this legislation, Poston Road Elementary in Martinsville received a grant totaling $52, 710 to develop a Spanish language immersion program which will prepare students with knowledge of a foreign language before entering middle school. A student who is enrolled in one of these programs spends half of their day being taught in English and the other half learning in their targeted language.

The new law also makes Indiana only the ninth state to create a State Certificate of Biliteracy, allowing students who demonstrate proficiency to receive this certification on their transcripts.

“Evidence suggests that students who learn a second language also experience improved performance in all other academic areas,” said Rep. Mayfield. “Having hosted nine exchange students from around the world, I have witnessed first-hand the benefits of learning a second language. It equips students with a marketable skill when entering college or the workforce. Nowadays, students must be prepared to compete locally, nationally and around the world, and I believe this program makes Hoosiers more competitive in the global economy.”

For more information on HEA 1635 and SEA 267, please visit iga.in.gov.