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Dozens Of Indiana School Boards, Teachers Denounce Republican School Choice Bills

Public school teachers in Goshen organized a protest against legislation to expand school choice in Indiana on Feb. 24.

Public school teachers in Goshen organized a protest against legislation to expand school choice in Indiana on Feb. 24. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Public school leaders and educators across Indiana are sending a message to lawmakers in protest of school choice legislation at the Statehouse, with several school boards passing formal resolutions in opposition to the measures.

House Bill 1005 would expand the state's school voucher program and create a new funding option for some families not enrolled in public schools. 

According to the Indiana School Boards Association, more than 30 of Indiana's public school boards have passed resolutions against the legislation expanding school choice. 

North White School Corporation Superintendent Nick Eccles helped organize a school board meeting in White County, where eight boards passed a joint resolution opposing the bill with leaders from 13 different school districts present at the meeting.

He said he appreciates the work lawmakers do, but wanted to send a clear and urgent message.

"You know get their attention and say 'guys back up what are you doing, why are you doing this?' because we all feel like this isn't what's best for public education," he said.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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But teachers are also organizing against efforts to expand vouchers and school choice this legislative session, with some hosting protests in their areas. Many say they're frustrated by lawmakers siphoning dollars away from public education, while not taking action on long-standing issues like teacher pay. 

Randy Harrison is a teacher and union leader in Anderson. He says it's critical for everyone to understand what the bills do and talk to their representatives. 

"My goal is to hopefully, get everybody – regardless of political party affiliation – to review what's going on in 1005," Harrison said. 

Lawmakers in the House approved their school choice measure, House Bill 1005, last month. Nine Republicans voted against it. But now the bill is in the Senate, where it will be considered in the coming weeks.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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