Tools for Teachers!

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The importance of education has been a recurring theme along the campaign trail. More than ever, education has become a battleground for political debate in Indiana. Without question our teachers feel frustrated and placed on the defensive by that debate.

Real Men Read with Washington Elementary 3rd graders.

As a father of two school-aged children and the husband of a teacher, Michael knows first-hand the importance of education. Indeed, education provides an opportunity to help build the talent base of our community. But it can also be the source of wasteful spending. Ultimately, it is the teachers with whom we entrust the vital function of teaching our children. While Indiana continues to be at the forefront of school choice, we must also remember to give our teachers the necessary resources and support they need to teach effectively. Our community needs legislators willing to listen to these needs.

Despite studies that show that a child’s learning capacity is strongest before age five, Indiana is one of only 11 states that does not provide support for early childhood learning. Too many children are entering Kindergarten starting to learn for the first time. The costs of trying to bring these children “up to speed” over the years outweigh the investment in early childhood education where studies show there is a higher return on investment.

Additionally, many parents, teachers and administrators are frustrated by the over testing of students – largely trying to ensure that students aren’t “left behind.” In Northwest Allen County alone the duplicate costs of standardized testing could fund seven new teacher hires.

Indiana boasts some of the best school choice options in the nation. However, we have yet to have a transparent and consistent evaluation method that holds all schools accountable for the funding that they receive. As Indiana continues with school choice it is more important than ever to ensure all schools are held accountable for the funding they receive.

Finally, our workforce development efforts continue to focus on providing education and training to build a strong workforce. As a practical matter, our teachers may be our most important workforce. Efforts should be made to study whether incentives could be provided to teachers to help them adapt to growing trends in STEM education. Teachers are required to pursue Continuing Education Credits and should be encouraged to pursue educational opportunities to better prepare students for our community’s workforce development needs.

These are just some of the issues that Michael has discovered along the campaign trail. Our community needs a legislator like Michael that is willing to roll up his sleeves and dig through these tough issues.