We all remember that one educator who had a profound impact on our lives. Usually, they are the ones who believed in us the most and went the extra mile to make us believe in ourselves. For me, it was the priest superintendent at my high school who went out of his way to give Deaconess Hospital my name when they began asking around town for referrals for their respiratory therapy program. Much to my surprise, I was selected into the program, and the rest is history!
Our years spent in the classroom are some of the most formative years of our lives. Although the ultimate responsibility of raising a child falls upon the parent, we cannot ignore the important role that teachers play in molding our youth to become successful later in life.
With the start of session quickly approaching, on Jan. 6th, you will be hearing a lot about the budget, which impacts nearly every aspect of our state, especially education. Every two years, the Legislature is tasked with creating the state’s biennial budget, and it is important to understand how the budget impacts our education system.
In 2013, the last time we passed a budget, a total of $30 million was allocated as teacher performance grants. This money was recently awarded to qualifying schools based on a combination of ISTEP+ and End-of-Course Assessment passing rates per pupil as well as graduation rates per pupil. But ultimately, this money goes to the teachers.
For the first time in Indiana history, grants were presented, as a bonus, to teachers rated either effective or highly effective under Indiana’s teacher evaluation system for the 2013-14 academic year. In our community, two school corporations have been awarded grants. South Spencer County School Corporation received $51,019 and Warrick County School Corporation received $460,294.
I am so pleased that the wonderful teachers in our communities are getting the “thank you” they deserve, and it is my hope that this is just the beginning. While these grants are a great step in the right direction, our support for teachers will not end here. That is why I am excited to share with you that as part of our education agenda this session, we wish to provide teachers with a tax credit for classroom supplies that they purchase out of their own pockets.
It is extremely important that we support these teachers as they selflessly support our students. Many of them work well past normal school hours to give students extra help with their studies. Often times, they also take their work home with them while taking care and spending time with their family.
With education funding making up over half of our budget, education remains a top priority, but also one that we need input on. Throughout session, House Speaker Brian Bosma will be calling on a group of teachers to offer thoughts and opinions on how best to bring excellence, innovation and creativity to every Hoosier classroom and for every Hoosier student. I, too, welcome input from both teachers and parents and hope that you will reach out to me this session with your thoughtful advice on how to continue to improve Indiana’s education system. I can be reached by phone at 317-232-9833 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.