2018 Mid-Session Summary
Below is a mid-session summary of current education legislation in the Indiana General Assembly.
HB 1315 – Gary/Muncie Takeovers – Rep. T. Brown (R – Crawfordsville): The bill would hand control of Muncie Community Schools over to Ball State University (BSU). BSU would be empowered to appoint a new, unelected school board for Muncie Schools. To summarily remove a locally elected school board is drastic action. The bill would also punish Muncie teachers by stripping them of their right to association recognition and to bargain wage-related issues and discuss student learning issues.
For all other teachers in the state, the bill would hold classroom teachers responsible for the state of a school districts' finances by specifically calling for the termination of up to 5 percent of the teacher force by the end of a fall semester, if a district is designated as being in fiscal distress. These actions would no doubt impact student learning, academic goals and increase class sizes in the middle of a school year. ISTA opposes this bill.
SB 387 – Stipends for Some Teachers; Not bargained – Sen. Zay (R – Huntington): This bill has several unrelated provisions, but what makes it a bill ISTA now opposes is that it would allow administrators to give supplemental pay bonuses to a select few teachers (special needs and STEM), at the expense of others, without bargaining these decisions. The effect would be the loss of some, or all, funds available for the rest of the teacher force. The extra pay comes out of the pockets of every other teacher, as this bill does not include additional funding. Also, stipends could be taken away at any time — they never become part of an employees’ base pay. This erodes bargaining, and the value of bargaining, because annually the interests of all get weighed and decisions are made based upon both short and longer-term interests.
OTHER BILLS OF NOTE
SB 8 - Cursive Writing – Sen. Leising (R – Oldenburg): The bill would require cursive writing to be taught. ISTA supports SB 8, based on ISTA Resolutions.
SB 65 – Instruction on Human Sexuality – Sen. Kruse (R – Auburn): The bill would prohibit a school from providing instruction on human sexuality unless parents sign a consent form. ISTA opposes SB 65 in its current state, but would support an amendment that calls for parents to “opt-out” of the instruction rather than requiring them to “opt in.”
SB 50 - Workforce Training – Sen. Eckerty (R – Yorktown): SB 50 would make further expansive and comprehensive changes to Career and Technical Education (CTE) following last year's comprehensive and expansive measure (SEA 198 – 2017). The bill would create entirely new levels of government oversight of CTE and workforce training programs, which are dominated by employer group stakeholders at the expense of meaningful K – 12 educator stakeholders. ISTA opposes SB 50 as it is too aggressive, and there has not been sufficient opportunity for meaningful discussion. The contents of SB 50 were inserted late in the committee process through a blank vehicle bill. The best approach is to let current law stand, and use the summer to study what is now being proposed, allow for all stakeholders to be involved and weigh in during the long, budget-writing session next year. HB 1002 is a House bill on workforce training. This bill has issues as well, but does not completely attempt to re-govern this arena with whole new bureaucracies.
HB 1426/SB 177 - Diploma – Rep. Behning (R – Indianapolis)/Sen. Kruse (R – Auburn): The bill would set forth one diploma in Indiana (based on CORE 40) with extra certifications. ISTA is working with the authors on certain technical issues with these bills.
SB 373 – Post-Retirement Benefits – Sen. Walker (R – Columbus): This bill would create a new pre-funded avenue to try to instill regular cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for public employee retirees. This offers a unique framework going forward on the issue of post-retirement benefits. ISTA has been supportive of this attempt to institutionalize COLAs into a regular schedule so that retirees’ purchasing power over time is not diminished. It must also be noted that until we start to implement this, it will be unclear how successful it will be in reaching its goals. Since there hasn’t been a true COLA since 2009, groups representing public sector retirees are willing to try this approach.
HB 1001/SB 189 – School Funding – Rep. T. Brown (R – Crawfordsville)/Sen. Mishler (R – Bremen): These bills would ensure that the current K – 12 funding shortfall is filled. Currently, the estimates are at about $16 million. Money is taken from tuition reserves. ISTA supports these bills.
HB 1399 - Content License at Elementary Level – Rep. Behning (R – Indianapolis): This bill would make the content license for elementary teachers an option and not a requirement of the State Board of Education. ISTA opposed this concept last year when Rep. Behning sought to make this mandatory. With the optional content license, ISTA is neutral.
HB 1421 - School Discipline – Rep. Behning (R – Indianapolis): Originally, this bill took too much control away from teachers in student discipline matters. It was extensively amended in committee, and now, it would direct the Indiana Department of Education to include certain strategies for reducing out-of-school suspension and disproportionality in discipline and expulsion in its model, evidence-based plan for improving student behavior and discipline. ISTA has some further amendments it is pursuing with the author and stakeholders.
SB 303 - Omnibus – Sen. Raatz (R – Richmond): The bill contains unrelated provisions. ISTA advocates successfully removed language from this bill that included “minimum” hours contract requirement. ISTA is currently neutral.