[r82] COLUMN: Moving Indiana forward on education (9/5/2014)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Start Date: 9/5/2014 Start Time: 11:30 AM
End Date: 9/5/2014 End Time: 11:30 AM
Moving Indiana forward on education

As your state representative, I am always working to find solutions that are best for our community and state. Our state constitution emphasizes education, knowledge and learning as being essential to the preservation of a free government, and therefore requires adequate attention. I feel that the best way to do that is by discussing how current policies are affecting Hoosiers and by remaining dedicated to moving Indiana forward on education. 

Recently, Indiana received approval from the United States Department of Education (USDOE) for a waiver that provides federal funding to support Hoosier schools. The waiver is part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and provides schools with the flexibility to spend funds based on their needs. With the USDOE’s approval of our NCLB waiver, Indiana has once again secured a vital funding source to support the schools in our community.

At one point, it was not certain whether or not the USDOE would approve the waiver. They cited certain education deficiencies, which placed our waiver extension under a conditional status. However, we have outlined a plan to address those concerns, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our education system remains one of the best in the nation. Since my first year as a state lawmaker, I helped pass legislation to strengthen education in our state, and we continued to build on that momentum this session.

One way we accomplished this was by passing House Enrolled Act 1003 which will better prepare students for college and their careers. Under this new law, schools and colleges will work with the business community to help our students gain knowledge and experience to enter Indiana’s workforce more successfully. Along with the need to improve our education system, we also understand the importance of helping Hoosier students develop the tools and skills to be competitive on a global scale. 

Incentivizing businesses, schools and colleges to work together is just the beginning. Properly measuring the effectiveness of our diploma course offerings will allow us to learn what is working and where improvements should be made. 

To do this, we have created a law that requires the Indiana Career Council (ICC), which I have mentioned in previous columns, to form a subcommittee that is charged with studying the current Career and Technical Education and Core 40 Diploma offerings. By examining the diploma requirements, the ICC can give us a better picture of how prepared our students are for college and their careers. Regardless of their goals, all Hoosier students should be properly equipped to compete in today’s increasingly competitive job market. 

Whether it was supporting the most significant increase to full day kindergarten or evaluating the needs to better prepare students for the future, I will continue to advocate for education in our state. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by working with teachers, school administrators, parents and students to gain a better understanding of their concerns and how to improve education in our state.

I am open to talking with local leaders to discuss public school funding and all other concerns. I want Hoosiers to know that their voices are being heard and that I am continuously searching for innovative and effective ways to move Indiana’s education system forward.

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Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.

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