With only a few weeks remaining in the 2015 session, many of you are aware that the General Assembly has made education a top priority, not only during this year, but for much of our history. Usually, when we speak about education, we focus on students—student funding, student outcomes and student initiatives. However, the General Assembly recognizes that if we want Hoosier students to succeed, we need to also support Hoosier teachers.
Recently, the House unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 500, called education deregulation. The bill reduces regulatory burdens allowing schools to focus more time and resources on the classroom. It also makes it easier for teachers and administrators to give our children an excellent education, by repealing obsolete, duplicative and burdensome regulations. This legislation will enable Hoosier educators to make the best decisions for our students as they prepare for the future.
In keeping with our education focus, this year’s budget, which will fund Indiana for the next two years, includes unprecedented funding for education. Incorporated into the budget are many provisions for teachers, including increased funding for Science, Technology, Math and Science (STEM) teachers. Over the next two years, the budget allocates $10 million to bring STEM teachers to schools that most require their expertise.
House Bill (HB) 1005 is another example of a practical piece of legislation that gives teachers in Indiana financial support. This bill provides each teacher with up to a $200 tax credit. Teachers across the state routinely spend their own funds on supplies for their classroom and students. This can be a financial burden for them, and in order to offset that, this tax credit will allow teachers to write off up to $200 of their classroom supply expenses. This is a great way to give back to Hoosier teachers after all they do for our children.
Another bill benefiting Indiana teachers is HB 1009, also known as “Freedom to Teach.” This bill gives school administrators and educators more freedom to utilize innovate teaching methods in their schools and classrooms in an effort to improve educational performance and student outcomes. Freedom to Teach allows a group of teachers, a principal or a superintendent (or a combination thereof) to submit a plan to a school board to designate a school, entire district or multiple school districts as a Freedom to Teach school/district.
Inside the zone, certain regulations can be lifted, which would allow teachers and other education professionals to apply their creativity more freely in the classroom. Freedom to Teach also establishes a Career Pathways Pilot Program to reward exceptional teachers, who assume leadership roles, with pay raises. Hoosier teachers dedicate extraordinary time, effort and attention to educating our children. By providing teachers with increased flexibility and resources, I am confident that Hoosier children will benefit.
An investment in Hoosier teachers is also an investment in the lives of our children. If we want to continue our tradition of excellence in education in Indiana, we must provide our teachers with the support and resources they need. The bills I mentioned, in addition to others, have been designed to help teachers be as effective as possible. Thank you in advance for your feedback on these and other important issues that affect our state. I appreciate your involvement in your government. I can be reached at 317-232-9509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.