The Indiana State Board of Education voted unanimously on Wednesday to postpone a decision about whether to remove state funding for some life skills classes. Some teachers are worried that, if it passes, their programs could be canceled.
The courses facing cuts teach adult skills like personal finance, nutrition, and child development. John O’Neal, a lobbyist for the Indiana State Teachers Association, says removing state funding for those courses will hurt Hoosier students.
“They will be deprived of important course opportunities, diminishing the most basic purpose of public education, which is to provide well-rounded citizens,” he says.
State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick has also criticized the plan, although she sits on the Governor's Workforce Cabinet which unanimously approved it in October. A task force advised the cabinet that the courses weren’t specific to career and technical education and therefore should not receive CTE-specific funding. It was then delivered to the Indiana State Board of Education via the Department of Workforce Development.
McCormick says she voted in favor of it then because it came in a package of recommendations, many of which she agreed with.
“We knew that we would have opportunities on some of those items that we did have concerns with, but we certainly weren’t going to stop the entire–all of those recommendations collectively,” she says. “That would not be responsible.”
State Board of Education staff plan to schedule a special session to consider career and technical education funding levels before January.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, board members renewed concerns that the state’s school accountability panel has ignored new graduation requirements.
Several board members say the panel’s recommendation on how to hold high schools accountable doesn’t reflect new graduation pathways the board approved in 2017. Those went into effect with this year’s freshman class.
McCormick called for a resolution to formally document the board’s disagreement with the panel’s proposal.
But the board failed to approve the resolution. Despite widespread agreement among board members about the accountability proposal, the formal denunciation of the panel’s recommendation failed 5-to-6.