The smoke is still clearing from what observers are calling the most remarkable Indiana legislative session for education policy since the early 90′s. In the aftermath of legislative battles over divisive education policies, the IU School of Education hosted a panel discussion of the state’s top education policy makers Thursday.
The forum offered the state’s top lawmakers their first chance since the legislative session ended in April to publicly debate controversial K-12 laws passed this year. Among the panelists was House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning, who defended the Republican-led education overhaul.
“I think if we can do anything, it’s to focus on what’s best for kids, and not what’s best for adults, that’s what we did in the 2010-2011 legislative session, and hopefully we can continue that as we move forward,” said Behning.
Moving forward, legislators face elections next year and Democratic State Senator Vi Simpson said Republican education policy may have been too zealous for voters.
“I think there were a lot of things done in this past legislative session that the voters didn’t bargain for. They voted the way they did for their own reasons, but I don’t think they voted for such a radical agenda, so I personally think there will be a backlash,” said Simpson.
Several panelists said afterward the discussion wasn’t necessarily productive because, as Democratic Representative Terry Goodin put it, wounds from the session are still fresh.