Governor Signs Long-awaited Bill to Overhaul Adult Education

The following is an update on HB 1340 regarding adult education in Indiana:

Authors: Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis), Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) and Rep. Sheila Klinker (D-West Lafayette)
Sponsors: Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Goshen), Sen. Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) and Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City)

Summary: Moves career and technical education to the Department of the Education (DOE) and assigns oversight to the State Board of Education. Moves adult education to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and assigns oversight to the State Workforce Innovation Council (SWIC). Assigns to the SWIC responsibility for the GED diploma program and the planning and implementation of postsecondary career and technical education.

Chamber Position: Support

Status: Signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels on April 1; effective immediately.

Update/Chamber Action: The issues addressed in this bill have been discussed, in one way or another, for most of the last decade. The specific proposals were highlighted in a set of policy recommendations commissioned in 2009 by the Indiana Chamber Foundation and adopted subsequently by a bipartisan legislative study committee. Yet, until this year, the proposal could not even get a vote in both houses. So it’s a real mark of progress that the votes this year were unanimous and that the bill was one of the first to reach the governor’s desk.

Much of the credit for this success goes to the staff at DWD. They began laying the groundwork several months ago and helped demonstrate to both legislators and adult education providers, who previously had opposed these proposals fiercely, that the overhaul would be a positive development. The Indiana Chamber is proud to have helped in raising these issues and in ushering this bill through the Legislature. We’re also looking forward to our continued work with DWD to implement this overhaul and to realize the promising opportunities to better serve Indiana’s adult learners.

Indiana Chamber VP Serving on Bennett Transition Team

Indiana’s Superintendent-elect Tony Bennett has tapped Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development policy, Derek Redelman, as a member of his transition team. Redelman is advising Bennett on a variety of issues, but has been asked especially to help review the Department of Education center that includes Title I funding, school choices, adult education and ELL/Migrant learning programs.

Redelman worked previously as a policy analyst for the Department of Education and as an advisor to then-Superintendent H. Dean Evans. He sees great opportunity with the incoming superintendent: "It is exciting to work again with a superintendent who recognizes our state’s challenges and who brings fresh ideas for improving the education of all children."

Bennett is scheduled to take office on January 12, 2009. Three days prior, he will participate in a First Friday Conference Call (9:30-10:30 a.m. on January 9) with Indiana Chamber members, discussing his priorities for the department and the state’s education future.

Chamber VP Supports Literacy Report

A new literacy report from the National Commission on Adult Literacy is being lauded by Indiana Chamber VP Mark Lawrance.

Lawrance explains:

“The comprehensive Reaching Higher, America report is a significant research project with bold recommendations to better prepare our country’s workforce for the 21st century. It urges overhauling and expanding adult education and workforce skills training. That is what the Indiana Chamber has been advocating for in Indiana, as highlighted in our two recent reports on this area (including this year’s Indiana’s Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance Report)."

Read Lawrance’s full statement here.

Workforce Challenge: It’s a Big One

Traditionally, when it comes to innovative state comparisons, all too often Indiana finds itself on the short end of the stick. That is changing in some areas, including a recent Indiana Chamber study on the state of our workforce.

Indiana’s Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance Report found that 931,366 adults (ages 18-64) have not completed high school, speak little or no English and/or are in families that earn less than a living wage (twice the level of poverty). While the challenge may be daunting, the state is ahead of the game in its analysis and has a policy team in place working on solutions.

Patrick Kelly of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems helped conduct the study. He says Indiana is emerging as a national leader.

“It is entirely unique – there’s not a report like it that really isolates this particular issue,” Kelly says. “Other states have addressed policy and some measures of accountability, but none are as concise and focused on this issue.”

The topic is an Indiana Chamber priority. It should be for everyone.