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Protecting public schools at top of State Rep. Chris Campbell’s legislative agenda

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INDIANAPOLIS – Protecting Indiana’s public schools will be one of State Rep. Chris Campbell’s (D-West Lafayette) primary objectives when she begins her first session as a member of the Indiana General Assembly in January.

“When I ran for office, the people in the 26th House District made it clear that they want the Legislature to do everything in its power to preserve and protect the mission of our state’s public school systems,” Campbell said. “In recent years, our public schools have been forced to do their jobs with less support from state government, and I believe it is time to change that.”

Campbell will have a perfect opportunity to influence that debate through her appointment to the influential House Ways and Means Committee, which will serve as the starting point for deliberations on a new biennial state budget in the 2019 legislative session.

“Of course, I want to see that our schools get additional state support through the budget, and I am very interested in seeing that the debate over increasing teacher pay that has started among key players at the Statehouse becomes reality,” Campbell said.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has proposed studying an increase in teacher pay over the next few years, a move Campbell feels is not needed.

“The raw figures tell us that Indiana teachers are making less now than they did 20 years ago, and that public schools across this state are losing experienced teachers and having trouble filling those positions,” Campbell said. “Rather than discussing such things as tax breaks for teachers to purchase school supplies for their students – something teachers shouldn’t even have to be doing in the first place – we should be talking about increasing teacher pay now. There is no need to study what to do. We should just do it.”

At the same time, Campbell said it is imperative to begin providing greater accountability and transparency for both charter schools and the state’s voucher program, which have grown explosively in recent years.

“If you look at school funding as a giant pie, it is obvious that state government has provided bigger pieces of that pie for charters and vouchers, while public schools must do the same job with less support,” Campbell said. “There has been little or no effort to study the impact of this growth, since all efforts at accountability have been turned aside by the Republican majorities in the Legislature.

“As a result, there is no control to try and prevent private schools from engaging in discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as was seen over the summer at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis,” she noted. “I certainly would be in favor of exploring legislation that would prevent private schools that receive public tax dollars from engaging in such practices.”

Campbell also said she would work on legislation to close the “rape by impersonation” loophole in state law, and expand the abilities of officials to inspect rental properties to make sure they meet state safety codes.

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