We got our first look Thursday at more than 150 of the proposals members of the Indiana Senate plan to bring up when the General Assembly officially kicks off its session next week.
Not all of them will make it out of committee, but a few of the education proposals are worth highlighting on their own:
- Regional Campus Governance: Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said over the summer IPFW’s administrative masters at Purdue treat the Fort Wayne regional campus like a “stepchild” — even dangling the idea of splitting off IPFW from IU and Purdue. Now another Fort Wayne-area senator, Columbia City’s Jim Banks, wants to give more autonomy to the regional campuses of Indiana and Purdue universities. Among other things, Sen. Banks’ SB 98 would permit regional campuses to more directly interface with the Commission for Higher Education, require flagship campuses (West Lafayette, Bloomington) to include regional campus faculty leaders in their faculty leadership, and provide a way for regional campuses to opt out of participation in “system-wide administrative tasks.”
- School Prayer: Kruse, who chairs the Senate’s Education committee, proposed a measure allowing a school board to “require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day.” Under SB 23, students could choose not to participate. But Doug Masson, an attorney who used to work for the state’s Legislative Services Agency, blogs Kruse’s proposal, “is clearly unconstitutional and would burden a participating school with court mandated legal fees.”
- Cursive Writing: Sen. Jean Leising is re-introducing a bill she co-authored last year requiring all Indiana schools to include cursive writing instruction in their curriculum. Almost the exact same bill squeaked out of the Senate by a 27-23 vote, but the House never took it up. As we wrote last year, Indiana Department of Education officials are no longer requiring Hoosier students learn cursive. We spoke to one expert who says handwriting is important, and another who’s skeptical that teaching cursive and manuscript is worth the time spent in the classroom.
- Sale of Public School Buildings: School districts can’t sell vacant buildings for four years after they fall into disuse under current law. That’s because charter school operators have four full years to claim the building and buy it for $1. As of January 2012, just under 50 school buildings had been reported as vacant. Kruse proposed legislation to shorten that waiting period to two years, and create a process through which a district could ask the state to waive the waiting period altogether.
The General Assembly hasn’t posted any House bills as of this posting. Senators have until January 11 to file bills. Members of the House have until January 14.
A few other proposals to mention in brief: a “Combat to College” program, law enforcement animals in schools, an early childhood literacy pilot program… and one non-education bill that caught our eye:
SB 104: Wild animals on airport runways. Allows the manager of a public use airport, or the manager’s designee, to chase or take at any time, without a hunting license, a wild animal that is located on the airport’s property that contains the runway or apron.