[r63] Keeping Indiana's education system on the right path

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, September 26, 2014

Keeping Indiana's education system on the right path

As a state, our future relies upon the next generation. That is why as state leaders, one of the most significant things we can do to make a real, lasting impact on our state is to keep our education system strong and growing stronger. 

Throughout my time in the House Republicans, education has consistently been a top priority. In the past two years alone, we have not only increased K-12 education funding by $390 M, thus exceeding pre-recession funding levels, but we have also established a preschool pilot program to provide more opportunities for low-income families to receive a high quality education. While these are significant examples, they are just two of many.  

Another important part of keeping our education system on the right path is maintaining an open line of communication between policymakers, teachers and parents. Today, in an effort to do just that, I would like to share with you a recent change to education policy in Indiana and how it is impacting Hoosiers across the state. 

At the end of August, the state was notified that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) had granted our waiver request in regards to the federal dollars that Hoosier schools receive. This waiver is part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and essentially allows schools to spend the funds they receive based on their own individual needs as opposed to being told by the Federal Government how that money should be spent.

While this is an obvious victory for Indiana, it was not always immediately apparent whether or not our waiver would be granted. In fact, in May, our waiver was placed on a conditional status due to what the federal government viewed as educational deficiencies here at home. This forced Indiana to appeal that status and make a case for all of the work that was done during the most recent legislative session. 

For instance, we passed legislation to help prepare students for college and their future careers by incentivizing partnerships between local schools and businesses. The goal was to make it mutually beneficial for schools and businesses to work together to provide students with opportunities for internships in high-wage, high-demand fields. In addition, we decided to take a critical look at Indiana’s current high school diploma requirements in order to gain a better understanding of how prepared our students really are for life after high school, regardless of what path they take once they graduate. 

I am pleased that the USDOE has approved our waiver request and acknowledged the strides we are making for a better Indiana. I am proud that our state leaders were not afraid to stand up for what was best for Hoosier children, and I hope to be a resource to my constituents as we start the next phase of this journey. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 317-232-9620.