Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Statehouse Deals Nearing On Budget, Common Core 'Pause,' Vouchers

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis

We might get a better idea Thursday how Indiana General Assembly members will resolve their differences over proposals to expand the state’s private school voucher program and halt implementation of the Common Core academic standards in schools.

A deal on the state’s two-year budget is also close, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said Wednesday. Lawmakers are hoping to wrap up the session by week’s end.

“Impacting public education funding in a very positive way” is a goal of the budget, Bosma told IPBS statehouse reporter Brandon Smith.

Bosma also updated his Facebook status with an post that delighted opponents of the nationally-crafted Common Core standards, who are hoping lawmakers will pass a measure “pausing” their rollout in classrooms pending a statehouse-led review. 

“Working with Sen, Gov on language to pause Common Core for full legislative review and statewide input,” Bosma posted. (Gov. Pence’s public stance on the “pause” measure hadn’t been clear until, perhaps, that post.)

The Indiana House opted to send the bill that includes the pause language to conference committee late Wednesday, where voucher supporters have hoped Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, might have more sway.

Voucher Expansion

Lawmakers are also nearing a deal on an expansion of the state’s voucher program. From the AP:

House and Senate education leaders said Wednesday the compromise being developed allows a smaller expansion than what the House approved earlier in the legislative session.

The current voucher law requires all students to spend at least one year in public schools before becoming eligible if their families meet income limits.

Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn says the compromise would make students whose public school received a state performance grade of F immediately eligible.

The House-approved bill would have eliminated the one-year public school rule for children entering kindergarten anywhere in the state, after which they could remain a voucher student in private schools.

Voucher opponent Vic Smith, who actively follows the legislative process, writes:

The word going around the Statehouse on Tuesday (yesterday) was that a conference committee on voucher expansion will give vouchers to all who live in attendance areas of “D” schools as well as “F” schools. If this is true, it would be a huge expansion beyond the Senate version of the number of students that would get vouchers for living in the attendance areas of failing schools.

We made an attempt to measure the voucher expansion proposal’s impact — something legislative fiscal analysts said was “indeterminable” — when the bill passed the Senate earlier this month.

Stay Tuned

We’re on Twitter @StateImpactIN, and follow our reporters @kystokes and @ellemoxley.

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