Two more bills in Governor Mitch Daniels' comprehensive education reform package became law today when the governor signed measures that will give Hoosier families more choices to educate their children. HEA 1002 will expand opportunities for charter schools and HEA 1003 will give parents who meet income guidelines choice scholarships to attend private schools.
"If we've learned anything in Indiana, we've learned change can happen, but change is hard. Change always brings uncertainty. Indiana has seen a lot of change in the recent years, but none bigger and more important to our long-term future than the change we are about to make the law of this state," said the governor. "We say today, that every child is precious. Every child deserves an equal chance to be all they can be. Regardless of race, regardless of income, every child and every parent deserves an equal chance."
The charter schools bill:
· Creates more opportunity for high quality charter schools by expanding authorizers
· Creates new statewide body that can issue charters
· Requires all charters to be open to any student who lives in Indiana; random drawings must be held at a public meeting if there are more applicants than slots
· Charters held to rigorous accountability standards, as are traditional public schools
· Ends the virtual pilot program and gives these schools more flexibility to function like other public charter schools for funding, authorization, accountability
· Gives charters more flexibility to hire non-traditional educators and part-time teachers
· Gives charters more access to unused facilities owned by traditional public schools
· Allows for conversion of an existing public school to a charter school under certain conditions
"Today we celebrate the culmination of not months, but years of hard work," said Russ Simnick, executive director of the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association. "With the signing of these bills, we've removed ridiculous obstacles to parents selecting options for their children. We're not just changing the landscape of education in Indiana, but the entire nation is watching us today."
The choice bill:
· Makes choice scholarships to private schools available to families who meet income guidelines. Families below free and reduced lunch ($40,000 for family of four) eligible for 90 percent of state tuition support; families below 150 percent of free and reduced lunch ($60,000 for family of four) eligible for 50 percent of state tuition support.
· Provides a maximum scholarship amount of $4,500 for grades 1-8; no limit on high school
· Caps the number of scholarships at 7,500 for 2011-12 and 15,000 for 2012-13. No limit thereafter.
· Expands the current tuition tax credit to provide more students scholarships to attend private schools
"With the passage of a comprehensive set of reforms, Indiana has reaffirmed its commitment to public education, put its trust in parents, and realigned our education system to put the needs of children ahead of adults," said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice. "The quality of a child's education is no longer based on their parents' zip code or a family's income. We are at the head of the class when it comes to reforming K-12 education thanks to the courage and leadership of Governor Daniels."
The authors of the HEA 1002 were Speaker Brian Bosma, Rep. Robert Behning, Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan and Rep. Cindy Noe. Sponsors of the bill were Sen. Dennis Kruse, Sen. Jim Buck, Sen. Carlin Yoder and Sen. Jim Banks.
Authors of HEA 1003 were Behning, and Bosma, and sponsors were Kruse, Yoder, Banks, Buck and Sen. Greg Walker.
Audio of today's entire program may be found here: http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Press/050511fullprogram.mp3
Audio of the governor's remarks may be found here:
Video of the program will be available later today on the governor's YouTube channel: