Opinion Column by Representative Morris
Throughout this legislative session, we have heard hours of debate and testimony concerning education, and we will continue to hear more in the upcoming weeks. The creation of education bills are rooted in our desire to provide students with a quality education that will make them more competitive in the 21 Century.
These bills are pro-public education and pro-teacher. I think being a teacher is one of the toughest jobs out there. Both of my parents were teachers and I have seen firsthand the commitment and hard work it takes. These bills are not meant to put teachers down, but rather to fundamentally strengthen our education system for all students.
To the hundreds of teachers who came out for the hearings on education bills; thank you. I felt inspired by you showing up and letting us know how passionate you are about Indiana's education system. I, too, feel passionate about our education system and am dedicated to passing legislation that will make our school system better.
I have spoken with many teachers about the proposed education bills, from town hall forums to casual conversations at the gym. I am always willing to listen, no matter where or what I am doing and appreciate hearing concerns or comments. I have enjoyed meeting teachers at our schools and know their concerns center on the students and not the money. Students are the driving issue for all of our reform efforts.
I hope educators give the education bills the support and chance they need to become effective options. I understand that change can lead to uncertainty, but these bills are designed to improve our education system.
Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding the education reform bills; more specifically, the legislation concerning charter schools, House Bill 1002, and school choice, House Bill 1003.
Let's clear the air-- charter schools are public schools that offer students a different type of public educational structure. House Bill 1002 makes it easier for a charter school to be developed in communities that want them. No one is going to be required to attend or establish a charter school; charter schools will only exist if parents send their students there.
Both bills simply offer Hoosier families the opportunity to send their child to a school that best meets their educational needs. House Bill 1003 is a scholarship bill that is constitutional and does not interfere with church and state. It merely expands options.
With options come hope and the chance for success. We must give hope to our education system and provide all students with an education that will make them a competitive force in the new 21 Century economy.
Yes, many of these bills are bold and will force us to think about educational options differently. I support our educators and what they do every day to help our students grow, which is why we are passing legislation that will put students first and enable them to grow exponentially.
We are at the half way point of the 2011 legislative session. In the second half of session, we may have new education bills to discuss that get sent over from the Senate. I will continue to reach out to teachers, listen to comments and concerns and ask the questions you want answers to. Please feel free to contact me at H84@iga.in.gov#or call me at: 317-232-9603