Legislative Update, Feb. 10
Below are the top education-related bills ISTA is tracking, which saw action in the General Assembly this week.
For daily updates from the Statehouse, read our posts on Twitter at @ISTAmembers.
HB 1001 (Rep. Brown, R - Crawfordsville) Biennial Budget/School Funding Formula
This is the state's biennial budget, which will contain the state school funding formula. Serious discussion of the budget has only just begun.
ISTA testified in committee this week asking legislators to find ways to fairly and adequately fund our public schools. We also noted Indiana recorded the second worst decline in teacher salaries in the country over the last decade.
ISTA expressed concerns for the expanding programs the state must fund that direct funds from our public schools, such as vouchers, charters and virtual charters.
HB 1003 (Rep. Behning, R - Indianapolis) Student Assessments
This bill would extend the replacement of ISTEP until June 30, 2018, when a new statewide test will be known as Indiana's Learning Evaluation Assessment Readiness Network (ILEARN). The purpose of ILEARN is to develop an assessment that is student centered and provides timely and meaningful information to stakeholders on grade proficiency level and growth toward college and career readiness standards.
ISTA raised concerns about the bill, which originated from recommendations from the ISTEP Panel interim study committee. Specifically, the bill continues to base teacher evaluations and school accountability grades on standardized test scores. The bill also does not go far enough to reduce student testing time or provide a meaningful assessment for teachers to improve instructional practices in the classroom or to tailor instruction.
Status: Passed committee 10-2 and will move to the full House next week.
HB 1004 (Rep. Behning, R - Indianapolis) Pre-K and Voucher Expansion
HB 1004 is a bill aimed at moderately expanding access to pre-K education, but would also and unnecessarily create a pipeline of new students into the state's already costly private school voucher program by allowing them to automatically become eligible for a voucher.
The bill would also increase the current income eligibility requirements for Indiana's preschool program from 100 percent of poverty to 150 percent of poverty, mirroring the K - 12 voucher baseline guidelines and to subsidize through tax dollars more families with higher incomes. The bill would then provide for automatic K - 12 voucher eligibility if the family has an income of at least 200 percent of poverty.
Status: The bill passed out of committee along party lines. Multiple amendments were offered on the House floor to remove the voucher component, and there were some objections on both sides not only regarding the voucher language but also the willingness to extend the pilot to 10 counties rather than statewide. However, the bill still passed the House 61-34. The bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
HB 1007 (Rep. Cook, R - Cicero) Education Course Access Program
HB 1007 is another ALEC model bill that would create a course-by-course voucher to attend online courses, paid for by the student's public school corporation.
For-profit online, or virtual, charter schools, have a disastrous record of failing students and avoiding accountability, not just in Indiana, but around the country. ISTA opposes any further diversions of funds from local community public schools to fund these experiments.
Status: The bill is in House Education and will be up for amendments and a vote in committee on Tues., Feb. 14 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
HB 1009 (Rep. Cook, R - Cicero) School Financial Management
The bill aims to get more dollars into the classroom, but may end up having the opposite effect. HB 1009 would roll together the various property tax funds (capital projects, transportation, school bus replacement, art association, historical society and playground funds) and creates a new "operations fund." It also creates an "education fund" to "exclusively" cover student instruction and learning expenditures.
The intent of HB 1009 is to provide flexibility in funding, get more money to the classroom and ensure transparency. However, ISTA strongly believes additional safeguards are needed to ensure the intent matches the implementation.
ISTA has been working on several amendments to achieve the stated goals of this bill.
Status: The bill passed out of committee 12-0 and Ways and Means 20-1. Two amendments have been added to this bill as a result of ISTA concerns, but it still does not ensure dollars go to maximizing the education fund for teaching and learning. The bill is on 3rd reading next week in the full House.
HB 1386 (Rep. Behning, R - Indianapolis) Competency Based Education
The bill would establish a competency based education pilot program, which is a system under which a student advances to higher levels of learning at the time the student demonstrates competency in concepts and skills regardless of grade level, place or pace. Students would progress by meeting benchmarks through assessments. The program would provide grants to schools for designing and implementing models.
Status: The bill passed in committee unanimously. It moves to the House floor. ISTA is working on amendments to limit the scope of the pilot.
HB 1389 (Rep. Clere, R - New Albany) Teacher Bonuses
This bill would provide another series of stipend bonuses to certain teachers. ISTA worked with Rep. Clere to amend the introduced version of this bill, but also expressed that the continued focus of paying teachers by stipend bonuses will not address the real issues behind teacher compensation.
Status: The bill as amended passed in committee 12-0 and moves to the House floor next week. Further 2nd reading amendments will be sought.
HB 1537 (Rep. Gutwein, R - Francesville) Thirteenth Check
This bill would provide a thirteenth check in 2017 for certain members of the Indiana state teachers' retirement fund and other retirement plans.
ISTA testified in support of this bill, but also testified that it has been since 2009 that a COLA was implementedand and supports a true COLA.
Status: The bill passed in committee 11-0 and has been referred to Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
SB 179 (Sen. Buck, R - Kokomo) Appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction
After January 12, 2025, the state superintendent of public instruction would be appointed by the governor, rather than elected by voters.
ISTA opposes this bill as ISTA resolutions call for the state superintendent to be elected. Also, from a policy perspective, removing the direct voice of voters from having a say in education policy is wrong-headed.
Status: The bill passed in committee 6-3 and moved to the Senate floor for further amendment next week. Sen. Luke Kenley (R - Noblesville) has an amendment to put the question of appointing or electing the state superintendent on a ballot referendum. ISTA supports this amendment.
SB 407 (Rep. Houchin, R - Salem) Education Matters
This bill would impact a variety of issues, including teacher evaluations, ESSA and labor union matters. Much work is still needed. In its current form, ISTA opposes the bill, as it seeks to further weaken unions.
Status: The bill was heard in committee this week and is scheduled next week for further consideration.
Looking Ahead Next Week
House Ways and Means - Mon., Feb. 13, 11 a.m. ET, Rm. 404
HB 1537 - Pension thirteenth checks
House Education - Tues., Feb. 14, 8:30 a.m. ET, House Chamber
HB 1005 - Superintendent of public instruction
HB 1007 - Education course access program
HB 1130 - Protections for student journalists
HB 1383 - Elementary school teachers
House Employment, Labor and Pensions - Tues., Feb. 14, 8:30 a.m. ET, Rm. 156-A
HB 1463 - Teachers' defined contribution plan
Senate Education - Wed., Feb. 15, 1:30 p.m. ET, Senate Chamber
SB 108 - Education matters
SB 224 - Prekindergarten status report
SB 248 - Consolidation of school administrative functions
SB 276 - Early education grant pilot program
SB 407 - Education matters
SB 498 - Teacher compensation
SB 504 - Programs and services for charter school
SB534 - Special education scholarship account program
House Education - Thurs., Feb. 16, 8:30 a.m. ET, Rm. 156-C
HB1384 - High school graduation