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Monday, May 20
The Indiana Daily Student


Coalition discusses education issues


In a continuing effort to improve the quality of the state education system, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education of Monroe County organized a meeting at City Hall Thursday night with state senator Mark Stoops and local blogger Steve Hinnefeld to discuss issues and upcoming changes recently set forth by Gov. Mike Pence.

The ICPE is a new bipartisan, non-profit organization. Its mission is to focus public tax dollars on the K-12 education of public school students by opposing legislation in the Indiana General Assembly that would fund private school vouchers, expand private school tax credits, privatize charter schools by allowing private colleges and agencies to be authorizers, put for-profit managers in place to take a profit from operating public schools and privatize public schools through any other means, according to the ICPE website.

Hinnefeld is a local writer who created his own blog called School Matters, which posts information and topics about K-12 education. He said the topic of improving the quality of early education is an ongoing topic around the country. However, the difference of education quality in public and charter schools is due to various factors.

“Generally charter schools pay their staff less because they hire less experienced teachers,” Hinnefeld said. “It’s not clear that there’s a definite need to provide an incentive for a need of teachers in charter schools.”

ICPE board president Vic Smith, who was unable to attend the meeting, drafted a testimony for those in attendance in order to inform the public about the methods ICPE members believe the state should use to improve its early education system, primarily HB-1004, which was signed into law May 2013.

“Indiana is way behind other states in making quality preschool experiences available to young Hoosiers,” Smith said. “We are one of only a handful of states that does not commit significant state dollars for preschool education. Clearly, we need to do better.”
Smith said the bill has two elements that prevent the ICPE from currently being able to support it.

Smith said he thinks preschool should be linked with education and included in the Indiana Department of Education.

Secondly, Smith said he thinks section 10 of the bill, which allows all students to be eligible for a voucher in K-12 education, should be excluded.

“The Indiana Coalition for Public Education deeply opposes any expansion of Choice Scholarships because as the K-12 voucher program grows, public school students get fewer resources,” he said.

State senator Mark Stoops provided an overview of Gov. Pence’s recent state of the state address regarding how Indiana will not proceed with national Common Core standards but will create its own education standards instead.

According to Stoops, Pence wants to expand the availability of public charter schools, create teacher innovation funds and offer $10,000 to any public school teacher who’s willing to transfer to a lower charter school.

“Indiana has the money to expand preschool education through universal programming,” Stoops said. “We have the money to invest in our pre-K aged kids. All four-year-olds should have the benefit to have access to high quality preschools.”

Follow reporter Brett Frieman on Twitter @brttfrmn.

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