I’m running for State Senate because I disagree with the legislature’s direction on public education over the last 15 years. As an educator and the product of public schools, I value education deeply and will always fight for teachers, students, and parents. As your state senator, I pledge to keep education decisions local, end the attack on public education, support teachers, and support higher education.
Keep Education Local
The needs of school districts across our state are different. Decisions that might make sense in Henry County won’t work in Union County. As your state senator, I will work to:
- Return Control to Local School Boards and Leaders: Too often, state legislators have usurped local control of education policy. The state’s role should be to provide the tools and resources school districts need instead of passing laws that infringe on school board responsibilities and oversight.
- Keep School Board Elections Non-Partisan: Public education shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the supermajority proposed making school board elections partisan in the last legislative sessions. Candidates should be selected on the merits of their ideas and their commitment to excellent education, not a party label. Our state and national politics have become divisive and polarized and we must protect our school board races from becoming the same.
- Listen to Parents: Parents play a fundamental role in their children’s success, but legislators have brought policies on their behalf without listening to or asking what they actually need. Local control of education policy gives those parents an actual avenue to have their voices heard without having to travel to the Capitol.
End the Attack on Public Education
The GOP supermajority has unleashed a fundamental attack on public education that has teachers demoralized and leaving the profession. A quality education provides students with a path to a better future and an educated population protects the health of our democracy. With more than 90 percent of Hoosier students attending public schools, it is time to end the attack on their education. As your state senator, I will:
- Increase Access to Universal Preschool and Pre-K: Every Hoosier students deserves the opportunity to pursue a quality education, and that should start at a young age. Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program already shows significant benefits for enrolled students. As your state senator, I will vote to expand funding for the program and work to increase access to high-quality classrooms throughout the district.
- Boost Funding for Public Schools: Even with record increases in K-12 funding in the last budget, Indiana still ranks well below the national average in per pupil spending ($10,256 per pupil in Indiana compared to $13,185 nationwide). Teachers shouldn’t have to fundraise for supplies or pay for materials out of their own pockets. We need to devote more of our budget to funding public education and eliminate unfunded mandates that filter money away from instruction and towards fulfilling state regulations. With a state budget surplus in the billions of dollars, not investing this money in our schools and teachers is irresponsible. Public education isn’t an expense, it’s an investment in our state’s future.
- Increase School Support Staff: We expect teachers to teach, care for student’s mental health, and provide for their basic needs. Educators should be able to do what they do best–teach. I will fight for expanded support resources, including more classroom aides, school psychologists and counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals, allowing teachers to focus on educating our students.
- Raise Teacher Pay: Indiana ranks 41st in teacher pay with Hoosier teachers making the equivalent of 19% less per year now than they did in 1999. We must increase teacher pay to match our surrounding areas and to provide educators with a living wage. Teachers shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
- Oppose Bills That Make Teaching Harder: State legislators should be supporting teachers, not attacking their expertise, and proposing legislation that makes their jobs harder. Bills like SB167 further demoralize teachers and hasten their exit from the profession. I will oppose any bill that makes it harder for teachers to do their jobs.
Support Higher Education
District 27 is home to eight colleges and universities that serve as educational, cultural, and economic centers. Despite years of effort, Indiana’s college-going rate continues to decline. I know the value of a college degree and the opportunities it opens and we need to highlight the benefits a degree offers. As your state senator, I will fight to:
- Expand Funding Teacher Residency Programs: Indiana is facing a teaching shortage, with more than 2,500 teaching positions currently available across the state. Teacher residency programs pay student teachers, provide mentoring, and ensure they are prepared to succeed after graduation. We must extend Indiana’s teacher residency grant program to meet the needs of our education workforce and end our teacher shortage.
- Invest in Technical and Scientific Education: We need to ensure students are prepared for the new economy and I support increased funding for STEAM (science, technology, economics, art, and mathematics) education and improved access to trade schools and community colleges.
- End Disparities in Educational Attainment: Indiana has become more diverse, but disparities in educational attainment still persist. I support programs that will help low-income, non-white, and rural students attend community college, trade schools, and college or university.
- Extend Eligibility for the 21st Century Scholars Program: The 21st Century Scholars program closes the achievement gaps highlighted above, especially for rural students like those in District 27. As your state senator, I will work to extend eligibility guidelines and support programs that ensure every eligible student enrolls, including automatic enrollment into Scholars.