[R75] Where did the summer go? (8/2/2013)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Start Date: 8/2/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 8/2/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

I can’t believe it is already time for students to head back to school. It seems like just yesterday we were hearing about graduation ceremonies and summer reading lists. I still remember the anxiety that would accompany the beginning of a new year. After all, it can be difficult to adjust to putting your child in someone else’s hands for seven hours each day. 

As students return to the classroom in the coming weeks, things will be much different than in years past. This session, we were able to allot an additional $390 million towards K-12 education. Our public education system accounts for over half of all appropriations in the state’s budget – a critical investment in the future of every Hoosier student. This appropriation exceeds pre-recession funding levels and will help schools be innovative and responsive to 21st century demands. 

In addition to these added education dollars, we also passed many other pieces of legislation which will ensure a better environment for Hoosier students to grow and thrive. For instance, the Department of Education will now be working with schools to establish bullying prevention programs, investigation and reporting procedures as well as disciplinary measures in case bullying occurs.  

Studies show that one in four kids has been bullied in the last 12 months. If we expect students to want to go to school, to be excited about learning and to perform to the best of their abilities, we have to first ensure that they feel safe in their surroundings. For these reasons, I support the General Assembly’s efforts to do more to stand up to bullying. 

People say that childhood is the greatest years of one’s life. These years are meant to be carefree and innocent. As a grandparent, it would break my heart to know that my grandchildren were bullied. I can’t imagine the stress that that would put on a child and their family, and I think it is important that we offer training for students and teachers so that they can better understand this sensitive issue. 

School bus safety is also a concern, and we want to make sure young Hoosiers are safe. We passed legislation which requires school buses that have safety belts to conduct an evacuation drill and to provide instruction on the proper use of a safety belt. Additionally, the Indiana State Police will now offer an electronic school bus inspection program. By logging onto https://secure.in.gov/ISP/BusInspections/Public/Index, parents can check the safety status of their child’s school bus.  

This website includes information such as the total number of buses inspected and the number of buses that were approved, ordered repaired or out service. Such inspections have been carried out for many years but by posting the results online, this will allow parents the convenience of viewing these reports from home. This will increase transparency and put more power into the hands of the parent.

Public safety, especially for the most vulnerable among us, is always a top priority. Hoosier schools should be seen as a safe haven, full of opportunities for the future leaders of our state. The steps taken last session are important to ensure their safety, and we will continue to evaluate the best practices for educating Hoosier students and ensuring they remain safe. 

While the long days of summer are quickly coming to an end, there is a new hope: the promise of new beginnings and the optimism that comes from knowing that students are better off this year than they were last year. As we continue to work hard to improve our schools, I hope that students across the state will be hard at work in the classroom as well. I wish everyone a great year and look forward to hearing of our students’ upcoming successes!