To the editor:
As your state representative, I believe it is imperative that I hear all sides of an issue and do my best to keep you informed of legislative proceedings. With that said, I feel compelled to respond to a letter to the editor in the Feb. 18 Daily Journal concerning education.
A safe school environment is critical to student success and improving student performance. I recently signed on to House Bill 1423, which requires the Department of Education to develop guidelines to assist school corporations in establishing bullying prevention programs, reporting procedures and discipline rules.
The testimony heard in the education committee for the bill was compelling. A high school student shared her experience as a victim of constant bullying. She even attempted to commit suicide several times before switching schools.
She is now excelling in a new school environment. Her success does not mean the former school was inadequate; it simply means she needed a new setting. She is just one of many who need a choice.
We are committed to providing all Hoosier children access to a high-quality education, regardless of their circumstances. Let’s be clear — school choice scholarships are about having the money follow the student — not the schools. I remain committed to allowing parents the opportunity to choose the best educational opportunities for their students.
Investing in education is a top priority, which is evident in the proposed House budget that passed this week. K-12 and higher education funding makes up 58 percent of the proposed budget. K-12 went through some rough cuts during the recession, and we are working to restore those cuts by increasing the funds for K-12 education by $344 million during the next two years.
We address high dropout rates by designating $6 million per year for dropout prevention programs.
In terms of innovation in education, we have allotted $10 million to place science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in the schools that need them the most. We also will fund programs geared toward improving student performance and success.
For our youngest Hoosiers, our budget provides $7 million per year to fund a pre-kindergarten pilot program that will be available to low-income families.
I have visited our schools in Johnson County and spoken with teachers about their related concerns to the school environment and what is best for the students. I believe the additional funding for schools will create a more productive learning environment for both students and teachers.
The bottom line is that education is important, and our state budget proves that. We might not agree on everything, but I believe we are headed in the right direction and doing what’s best for our children, what’s best for our future and what’s best for our great state of Indiana.
Rep. Woody Burton
Indiana House of Representatives