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Should The State Require ‘Soft Skill’ Standards In Schools?

Classroom

The state’s goal to prepare Hoosiers for life after high school is a major theme for education changes this year. And this week lawmakers will vote on legislation to make more students ready for the workforce.

One bill up for discussion would require schools to implement “soft skill” standards in their curriculum. Those include things like how a person works with others, or shows up dressed for their job. Lawmakers want schools to help more kids develop those, largely due to a push from employers who say workers lack those skillsets.

But Indiana State Teachers’ Association President Teresa Meredith, says schools shouldn’t be the only focus of those efforts.

“At the end of the day if the family environment, if the community environment, is not supportive of that – or the student is not seeing that on a pretty regular basis outside of school – it’s difficult to overcome that,” Meredith says.

Fatigue from frequent changes in the field also has educators questioning if another new state standard, especially for soft skills, is feasible or even necessary. That’s one reason Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker says, people in schools want a stronger voice in creating those statewide policy.

“We all have our own ideas on how to solve issues. And I just think educators need to be at every table of discussion – whether it’s State Board, whether it’s legislators, whether it’s Department of Ed – to help craft things that will truly make a positive difference in the lives of our students,” Baker says.

The soft skills standards would be established by the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Education, and receive approval from the State Board. Schools would need to implement those starting next summer.

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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