Education bills awaiting committee hearings

Members of the Indiana Senate Democratic caucus have filed a legislative package for the 2012 General Assembly that would increase access for Hoosier children to early education and provide oversight and accountability for education funds. As part of the Senate Democrats’ 2012 Legislative Agenda, the caucus members are now actively seeking hearings for these bills in the senate standing committees.

Studies consistently show students with access to quality early education that takes place before Kindergarten score higher on achievement tests, graduate from high school at a higher rate and are more likely to attend college.  Creating an office of child development and early learning and providing early education grant opportunities for middle income parents are two courses of action the Senate Democrats have offered as a way to bring quality early education to more Hoosier children.

As Indiana’s economy continues to struggle, it is important to ensure that every taxpayer dollar spent on education is used in the most effective way. Creating oversight for private schools receiving vouchers and for private organizations contracted for “turnaround schools” are two ideas the Senate Democrats are focusing on to guarantee that school dollars are spent wisely.

To voice your support for these bills: Contact your State Senator and members of the senate standing committee to which the bill has been assigned (see committee assignments at the end of each bill description). Contact information for every State Senator is available on the General Assembly’s website.

2012 Education Bills:

Senate Bill 288: Office of Child Development and Early Learning:
Creating an effective education system that incorporates early education will benefit generations of Hoosiers. By creating the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, the proposed legislation encourages the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) to streamline their efforts and create an education plan that includes developmental benchmarks for Pre-K education. The bill is authored by Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary).

Senate Committee: Education and Career Development

Senate Bill 204: Early education grant opportunities for middle income parents:
Until early education is integrated into Indiana’s traditional public school system, middle income children deserve access to preschool learning during those critical years. Senate Bill 204 would provide state-funded grants for middle income families with earnings that put them outside the eligibility for federal assistance programs, but who still need support paying for preschool classes. A sliding scale fee based on income would determine eligibility and grant amounts. The bill is authored by Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis).

Senate Committee: Education and Career Development

Senate Bill 214: Oversight of private schools receiving vouchers:
Requiring both an annual fiscal audit of any private school receiving public money and compelling IDOE to both track and publish those schools’ performance data allows Hoosier parents to compare schools more accurately and make the right decision for their children. The legislation would also limit to three percent how much of each taxpayer funded voucher could be used toward administrative costs at private schools. This bill is authored by Sen. Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute).

Senate Committee: Education and Career Development

Senate Bill 290: Oversight of turnaround school management organizations:
Senate Bill 290 would provide legislative guidance for the oversight of organizations contracted by the state to take over underachieving public schools. The legislation would give the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) specific standards to regulate those private organizations contracted for public school takeovers. This legislation is authored by Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary).

Senate Committee: Education and Career Development