In the Hoosier state, we know that there’s nothing more important than our kids. Yet, education in Indiana is fractured, with those kids most in need often falling through the cracks. We diverted nearly $500 million in state funds from public schools to charter and private schools through vouchers last year. Our public schools are at risk of shutting down not because of poor performance, but to funding cuts. In Anderson alone, public schools lost over $15 million in school funding due to students enrolling in other locations.
In Indiana, we have over 1 million students attending our state’s public schools – I support each and every one of those public schools. The teachers, bus drivers (like my husband), administrators, and staff who work with these students can not perform their jobs if we can’t provide safe and fully-funded schools.
I oppose vouchers and other proposals that allow taxpayer dollars to be used for private and religious education, either as a limited experiment or as a full-scale program. Vouchers have failed the children they were intended to benefit, have increased racial and economic segregation, and suffer from a severe lack of accountability. As a result of voucher programs, Louisiana has seen large declines in the reading and math abilities of their students, Ohio’s young students in voucher programs are under-performing those in traditional public school, and right here in Indiana, we’re seeing voucher programs funnel millions into schools that are consistently delivering failing grades for their students.
Charter schools have the potential to be incubators for innovation and collaborative labor management relationships, but they must be held to the same standards as the traditional public schools. Access for all students, health and safety standards, civil rights and academic accountability, financial transparency, and the right for teachers to enter collective bargaining, must all be a part of the equation.
While our public schools are losing funds, the numbers show that our youngest Hoosiers are ill-equipped from the very beginning of their education. In 2016, only five percent of eligible Hoosier kids had access to federally-funded Early Head Start, and only 25 percent of eligible Hoosier kids had access to federally-funded Head Start.
A good education doesn’t start when the class bell rings – a hungry child isn’t an engaged child. Our kids need access to good nutrition. Yet nearly 1 in 5 Hoosier kids in food insecure, and nearly one-third of Indiana’s food insecure kids are not considered eligible for federal food assistance. We must do better.
We need a multi-factor approach to ensuring that Hoosier kids have everything they need for a strong education.
- I support funding for the four pillars of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which in Indiana aims to cut the gap in English, language arts, and math in half by 2023.
- I support expanding eligibility and enrollment in federal programs that support education for every child.
- I support providing nutritious food for those kids without, so they can concentrate on learning.
- I am committed to working within our communities to advocate for children at the local level, tackling school funding cuts, early education, and a good public school for each and every Hoosier child.