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Governor announces legislative priorities for schools

At a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his legislative priorities for the upcoming 2018 legislative session. In his “Next Level Agenda,” Gov. Holcomb outlined his priorities in five pillars. Of the five pillars one addressed K – 12 education - “Develop a 21st Century Skilled and Ready Workforce.”

The governor’s agenda includes the creation of a new workforce development system directed by the governor’s Education to Career Pathway Cabinet. The cabinet members would consist of Blair Milo, the governor’s new secretary for career connections and talent and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick among others.

Under the new system the governor proposes that local and regional groups would begin working with the cabinet to have more flexibility in how state career and technical education (CTE) funds are spent. Currently, these funds go directly to local school districts from the state.

Other significant agenda items include:

  • Changes to curricula based on input from industry stakeholders.
  • Licensing flexibility for teachers in STEM and CTE areas.
  • Requiring all schools to offer at least one computer science course by 2021 and offering teachers professional development in computer science.
  • Creating career pathways that prepare high school students for, “postsecondary options such as apprenticeships, work-based learning, technical preparation, dual credit, college prep and courses that lead to industry credentials and certifications.”

The governor’s agenda as presented is from a broad perspective and its impact on public schools and students remains to be determined until further details are learned.

Absent from the governor’s agenda are any new initiatives expanding the state’s controversial private school voucher program and other divisive education proposals that have dominated legislative agendas from his predecessors.

“We look forward to continue working with Gov. Holcomb to do what’s best for the 90 percent of students who attend Indiana’s public schools,” said ISTA President Teresa Meredith. “Our public schools have and will continue to play a vital role in educating our state’s future workforce. ISTA will continue to advocate for Indiana's public schools to ensure all students have the support, resources and time to learn.”