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State Leaders Discuss Education Reform at Panel

Leaders throughout the state gathered on Thursday at Indiana University for a leadership conference centered on education. Topics at the center of discussion were the state’s new funding formula and how it’s implemented.

Representative Robert Behning says it could take about seven years. “It is unfortunate because education tends to be the one issue where it is very politically divisive, and frankly most of that is because of the teachers union,” he said.

He says there are many differences that hinder quick change, such as dollars following the children more rapidly. “I’m not saying Indiana State Teachers Association is not reform minded, but they don’t see reform coming as quickly.”

State Senator Vi Simpson says during this year’s legislative session there was a real disconnect between the governor and administration.

She says the biggest difference was the belief that the private sector was better than public schools. “I think moving more toward the private sector not necessarily a bad thing as long as there is government oversight because we’re talking about government tax dollars,” Simpson said.

“I think some of these bills were not very well thought out, and moving forward to making Indiana first in the nation in the number of vouchers that we’re going to provide religious school training seems to me to be moving a little faster than I would like,” she said.

Meanwhile many Republican lawmakers say it’s healthy for public schools to have competition and they contend parents and children deserve more choices in education.

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