INPEA Statehouse Express

Statehouse Express: Season 4, Episode 2

February 01, 2023 INPEA Season 4 Episode 2
INPEA Statehouse Express
Statehouse Express: Season 4, Episode 2
Show Notes Transcript

INPEA Executive Director John Elcesser walks us through what's happened at the Statehouse as we wrap up the month of January. With 12 weeks left in the legislative session, there is still a LOT that can happen! Get caught up with this episode of the Statehouse Express! 

Statehouse Express: Season 4 Episode 2


All aboard! It’s that time again for another stop along the statehouse express. It’s hard to believe that we are entering the 4th week of 2023 legislative session! Education committees will meet for the third time this Wednesday. To date, 20 education bills will have been heard in the first three weeks of committee hearings.


Last week, Senate Ed passed 4 bills out of committee. SB 35 on financial literacy, SB 380 which deals with DOE contracts with testing vendors for our statewide assessments, SB 305, the ESA bill, and SB342 dealing with criminal restrictions on teacher hiring. The ESA bill was amended away from a universal bill by adding back financial eligibility and requiring that 50% of the funding continue to be focused on students with special needs. SB 305 now heads to the Appropriations Committee where it faces some challenges. Senate Ed also heard testimony on 4 new bills. SB 340 involves funding for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Libraries. SB 380 deals with graduation waivers and SB 486 deals with among other things reducing some of the required teacher trainings. These bills will be amended and voted on this week in committee.


On the House Ed side, three bills were heard last week. How and if they apply to non-public schools is still being sorted out. HB 1558 is a Science of Reading Bill. There are a number of bills this session dealing with the Science of Reading. It is being precipitated in part by the data that shows only 1 in 5 Indiana students currently pass IREAD. This has lots of folks concerned, justifiably. HB 1558 also looks at the alignment of IREAD and Science of Reading research. It also establishes a Science of Reading Grant fund, but currently non-public schools are not eligible to participate. We are currently looking into if that can be changed; but also monitoring any potential strings that may be attached to participation.  A major focus of the grant is placing literacy coaches in schools. 

HB1358 deals with a digital literacy pilot program and again currently non-public schools are not part of that bill either. 

And finally, HB 1590 was also heard. It is a various education matters bill which means it’s a kitchen sink bill, where there is lots of different things addressed. 

One small part of the bill eliminates the requirement for a lottery in the Choice Scholarship Program. It also has a focus on Reading and STEM curricular resources. It requires the DOE to publish a list of high-quality curricula and resources for schools to use. This bill also redefines a few state technology grant programs and includes the provision that state accredited schools can participate. And finally, HB1590 focuses on schools with low IREAD performance. Schools with less than a 70% pass rate on IREAD would face certain requirements including the curriculum being used and the employment of literacy coaches. Currently, nonpublic schools are not included, but there was some talk during committee of adding state accredited schools. All three of these bills passed out of committee unanimously, but could be further amended during their second reading on the House floor.

And things aren’t slowing down any this week. The House Ed. Committee will hear bills dealing with robotics programs (HB1382), Transitions to teaching programs (HB1528), teacher ed programs (HB1637) and a bill on school safety funding (HB 1492).

The Senate Ed. Committee will be hearing another 4 bills. Only one has some relevance to nonpubs, and it’s another bill focused on the Science of Reading (SB402). Although it doesn’t specifically reference non-public schools it does address teacher preparation programs and licensing as it relates to reading.

Please remember you can view any of the bills in their entirety on the General Assembly website. You can also watch committee hearings through live streaming, accessible on their website as well.

We still have 12 more weeks to go in 2023 legislative session so there will be lots more bills coming our way and some may have a much more direct impact on our schools. Hopefully positive, but it could be negative as well. That’s why we need to make sure we have our school communities ready to engage. 

You’ve heard this before, but here it is one more time. It is so important! Appoint a legislative liaison, set two public policy goals, show our Board advocacy video to your boards and commissions and other stakeholder groups. Be ready to engage when alerts are sent out. 

As I’ve said before, this has the potential to another historic session for Choice but it will take all of us to get it to the finish line.

Before I go, as Andrea has shared in her emails and social media posts, we are in the midst of weeks of celebration. Last week was School Choice Week and National Lutheran Education Week.  And this week is National Catholic Schools Week. Indiana is blessed with a rich variety of high quality non-public schools so we really do have lots and lots of reason to celebrate. Thanks for all you do!

That’s it for this episode of the Statehouse Express. We hope to see you back here next week on board the Statehouse Express.