(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Governor Mike Pence says Indiana is making progress, but needs more education reform.
Speaking at the “Education Reform Rocks” rally Monday at the Statehouse, Pence said programs like the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program – the state’s private school voucher system – and options such as charter schools give kids better opportunities. Pence said progress has been made with overhauled teacher evaluations, limited teacher union bargaining and the A-to-F school rating system.
In pointing to a statistic that 12 percent of Indiana high school seniors last year failed to graduate and 200,000 students are attending schools graded D or F, Pence said there is more work to be done.
“For the sake of our kids we are going to demand great schools in every community, serving every child in the State of Indiana,” Pence told reform supporters.
Indiana Republicans have supported the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program as a driver of better schools, both public and private. The publically funded voucher program – which makes it easier for more families to send their child to a private school – has more than 9,100 participating students this year.
House Bill 1003 would increase the voucher cap amount for students enrolled in grades one through eight to $5,000 in 2014 and $5,500 in 2015. The bill passed the House last month and currently resides in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.
Becca Behn-Link says more funding needs to be made available to the students who can't afford to attend the school of their choice.
“We need the funding for students who are able to have the ability to progress with their academic needs. We’re not asking for anything special. We’re asking for what we already have. Provide the funding that we need,” said Behn-Link.
Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, told the Indianapolis Star that she was not invited to the reform rally. Ritz, a Democrat, defeated former state superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican who championed many of the state’s education reforms, in last November’s election.
Hoosiers opposed to the reforms that have been made in Indiana classrooms will hold a rally of their own at the Statehouse on Tuesday, March 19. The Indiana Coalition for Public Education are expected to push lawmakers to oppose voucher expansion and restore funding to public education that was cut in 2009.