Politics

Changes in high school curriculum top Indiana House GOP agenda

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — House Republicans on Thursday revealed details of their high school curriculum proposal after months of hints and speculation.

Republicans filed a slate of priority bills as they unveiled their agenda a few hours before the deadline to file legislation in the House. There is a bill to allow law enforcement officers to take someone to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation instead of taking them directly to jail. Another measure would set up an infrastructure assistance revolving fund to spur development of affordable housing.

There’s also legislation to make pregnant women eligible to receive child support payments.

Thursday also brought Republicans’ bill to create a work-based learning program for high school students. House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, first aired the idea in November but did not release details until the bill was filed. The measure would require every high school junior and senior to meet at least once during the school year with an employer or a labor organization.

High schools must hold at least one career fair per school year. Students can participate in an apprenticeship, an internship or a work-based learning program for course credit. Huston said the goal is to create a workforce that meets the needs of 21st-century employers while helping students identify potential paths after high school.

“Often times, (students) don’t know what’s available to them. In their own communities, they don’t know what’s available to them,” Huston said.

House Democrats said if Republicans wanted to expand high school students exposure to career opportunities, they should invest more in school guidance counselors. Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, who serves on the House Education Committee, said the curriculum bill would simply add more redundant bureaucracy and programs. He told News 8 he sees it as an attack on not just the K-12 system but Ivy Tech.

“The majority wants to undercut public education, not use it to its greatest advantage but undercut it, and they want the state to fund job training across the board,” he said.

Absent from the House GOP agenda is any mention of discontinuing textbook fees as Gov. Eric Holcomb has requested. Like his Senate counterpart, Huston said members of his caucus would discuss the matter but wouldn’t definitively say whether or not Republicans would go along with Holcomb’s proposal.