Rep. McNamara: 2016 legislative session focus

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Wednesday, January 6, 2016

With the beginning of a new year, I am grateful to be representing and working on behalf of our community during another legislative session. I am looking forward to working on legislation, which will help keep the state of Indiana on the right track for growth and prosperity. This session we are focusing on taking a hard look at our infrastructure, and identifying ways to improve our roads and bridge. Additionally, we will be focusing on a long-term solution to recruiting and retaining quality teachers.

We must work to maintain, modernize and improve our roads and bridges to preserve our reputation as the Crossroads of America. With that in mind, finding a way to increase transportation infrastructure funding will be a priority during this session. It is important that we make the necessary investments to preserve and improve our roads.

I am passionate about the quality of education in Indiana as I have worked in the field for my entire professional career. I, along with my colleagues, are committed to identifying opportunities to improve teacher retention, while at the same time attracting more high quality teachers to the classroom. We will also work to increase the portion of public dollars that reach each classroom. In order to obtain these goals, we plan to focus on attracting the top-performing high school students to the teaching profession and to provide incentives for college students to teach in Indiana.

While on the topic of education, I feel that it is necessary to explain my concern regarding the federal Higher Learning Commission’s proposal to restrict the number of teachers eligible to teach dual courses. Educators will be required to hold at least a master’s degree in the discipline/subfield of the course they instruct. If an educator holds at least a master’s degree or higher in a discipline/subfield, other than that in which they are teaching, then they must have at least 18 graduate credit hours within that field completed by 2017.

The Higher Learning Commission requirements will result in a loss of dual-credit teachers, and in return a loss of dual-credit course offerings in our schools. This requirement will negatively impact students in several ways, but mainly they will enter college less academically prepared and more likely to incur the financial burdens of being there longer. This policy will be detrimental to the state of Indiana and our ability to provide a strong foundation for our future. I will be introducing legislation which will allow Indiana to retain the teachers who are teaching dual-credit courses so that students can take advantage of these courses for years to come. I look forward to addressing all of these issues during the upcoming session. 

Indiana is a place where I am proud to call my home, and working as your state representative gives me an opportunity improve areas that are calling for attention. Your input is invaluable as I navigate my way through session. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at h76@iga.in.gov or by phone at (317) 232-9816.

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Rep. McNamara (R-Mount Vernon) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.