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Senator Simpson Discusses Jobs, Education Bills

Vi Simpson spent time this week meeting with union representatives and educators to discuss controversial right-to-work and education reform legislation.

There was little disagreement among attendees present at a Thursday night meeting at Edgewood Primary School outside of Ellettsville… where representatives from the Indiana State and Richland Bean Blossom Teachers Associations joined panelists from the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, presented her concerns about several pieces of legislation put forward by her colleagues across the aisle.  Among the most contentious were bills which would drastically change how teachers are paid.

ISTA Treasurer Kathy Parks voiced concerns that the legislation could result in serious pay cuts for many experienced teachers.

“So what’s good for the environment for teachers is great for the environment of learning,” said Parks.

Simpson also claimed that other legislation, some of which have already passed the Senate, would lead to a grossly unfair advantage for charter schools, by allowing such institutions to employ unlicensed employees as classrooms teachers.

“We should be talking to teachers, not shutting them out, not blaming them, not pointing fingers at them,” said Simpson.

Carmel Republican Representative Jerry Torr, is coauthor to several pieces of legislation discussed during the meeting.  Torr says legislation limiting teacher collective bargaining to wages and benefits would force district administrations to make policy decisions rather than relying on the bargaining process to avoid confrontations.

“That sounds like kind of a chicken’s way out,” said Torr. “They need to set the policy.”

Much of the legislation discussed during Thursday’s meeting is at least temporarily stalled after House Democrats staged a walkout earlier this week.  But many of the provisions of those bills could be reintroduced as amendments to other pieces of legislation.

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