April 28 marked the end of a busy and exciting 2023 legislative session in Indiana. We are thrilled to update you on the policy priorities we shared as the legislative session started, which focused on advancing educational equity and youth justice in Indiana.
Before we jump into the policy, we want to thank the many advocates who engaged throughout the legislative session – from participating in listening sessions to identify needs and policy solutions to interacting with lawmakers or sharing experiences with members of the media. Hundreds of you sent thousands of emails to policymakers and many shared their lived experiences in testimony before committees. Advocates like you made a huge difference for Hoosier kids and families.
Ensuring our public schools are equitably funded and the school funding formula considers low-income and traditionally underserved students as well as our SPED and ELL populations.
- In terms of K-12 funding, Stand Indiana and advocates worked to rally support for significant increases in the English Language Learning (ELL) and complexity grants, as well as addressing the funding gap for charter schools.
- We initiated an email campaign focused on equitable funding, which led to nearly 2,400 emails being sent to key lawmakers who would decide on the final budget.
- We worked closely with partners like The Mind Trust and EmpowerED Families, who both did an excellent job championing the major reforms to charter funding that passed into law (which should net about $2,300 in additional money per student).
- Advocates like Irma, Lizeth, Mary and Dontia shared their lived experiences with the School Funding Subcommittee.
Advocating for our public schools to be equipped with the curriculum and best practices in teaching reading that aligns with scientific research as our state faces a literacy crisis.
- Over the course of the legislative session our team, powered by the voice of our advocates, spent extensive time helping shape HEA 1558 – a bill that dramatically changes our state’s approach to literacy instruction in the classroom.
- As a result of HEA 1558, Indiana classrooms will now be required to use evidence-based reading practices. Because lawmakers added the $40 million early literacy grant fund to the budget, hundreds of additional schools will have access to the training and staffing support they need to help struggling readers much more effectively. This funding will also help ensure districts can hire reading coaches.
- Our work will now shift to supporting the implementation of this landmark legislation, which should lead to tens of thousands of struggling readers in our state getting the support they need much earlier in their schooling experience. Additionally, this will provide the tools educators have long been looking for to teach literacy much more effectively.
- If you want to learn more about the Science of Reading, visit this page. To read why Natalie advocated for the passage of HEA 1558, read her blog.
- While our team was proud to play a significant role in shaping this legislation, we’re so grateful for the partnership and support of advocates from the dyslexia community, as well as numerous non-profit organizations working in K-12 education. The IDOE also deserves our collective gratitude for their leadership on this bill and their ability to leverage major philanthropic support from the Lilly Endowment. Last, none of these impactful literacy policies would’ve been possible without Rep. Jake Teshka, Chairman Bob Behning, Sen. Aaron Freeman and Chairman Jeff Raatz. We’re very grateful for their commitment to ensuring Indiana is changing our approach to teaching literacy in classrooms across the state.
Supporting the governor’s agenda item to increase the number of young people applying for 21st Century Scholarships.
- Over the course of the legislative session, advocates have supported streamlining the 21st Century Scholarship enrollment process, and we are thrilled the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) and the legislature came together to ensure income eligible students don’t miss the opportunity to receive a two- or four-year scholarship that pays up to 100% tuition at an eligible Indiana college or university.
- We worked with CHE and lawmakers to strike the requirement for parents to file an application in writing at the end of their student’s eighth-grade year from state code.
- We initiated an email campaign focused on streamlining the 21st Century Scholarship enrollment process, which led to over 1,800 emails sent to key lawmakers.
- We organized a team of student and teacher advocates at Purdue Polytech High School, who did an amazing job talking about the real-life impact of simplifying enrollment for 21st Century.
- We supported advocates like A.J., Eric and Lucas who wanted to share their stories online, which detailed how being 21st Century Scholarship recipients changed their lives. Visit this page to watch their stories.
Ending some of the high costs and fees of our juvenile justice system that disproportionately burden low-income families and increase the time youth remain under court supervision.
- During the legislative session, Stand Indiana and youth justice advocates worked on ensuring House Bill 1493 passed. Because of its passage, several reimbursement fees in the juvenile system will be eliminated, barring courts making a specific ruling that youth have the income to pay. Previously, it was assumed families could afford these costs, which disproportionately burdened low-income families and had the potential to increase the time youth remained under court supervision.
- We supported system-impacted advocates such as Dontia, Carolina and Maria with their testimonies before the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee and the Senate Committee on Family and Children Services.
- Our team worked closely with community stakeholders committed to reforming our youth justice system and are especially grateful for the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative, Marion County Commission on Youth, Indiana Legal Services and the Juvenile Law Center for their work to support HEA 1493.
- This legislation would not have been successful without the advocacy of Chairwoman Wendy McNamara and Senator Mike Crider. Their leadership ensured the bill’s passage and we are grateful for their work not only on HEA 1493, but also their commitment to reforming our youth justice system overall.
Thank you for being a part of this important work by boldly leading the charge to create better, more equitable public schools in Indiana and end the harmful practices of our youth justice system.
For a visual snapshot of the work Stand for Children Indiana and advocates accomplished this session, check out this blog.