Smith to serve on interim committee studying education issues

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) again has been selected by legislative leaders to help lead a summer study of issues affecting public education in Indiana.

Smith’s selection to the Interim Study Committee on Education Issues was announced earlier this week. In addition, the lawmaker will serve on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, and the County Redistricting Commission.

“Study committees serve as the starting points for discussion of issues that generally become the major initiatives considered in the next legislative session,” Smith said. “Education is particularly important because it impacts the lives of many young people across this state. While I wish this year’s committee was studying a wider range of education issues, I am pleased that we are going to look at matters that do concern all who work to improve the quality of an education for our children.”

The committee’s charge includes a study of how the money generated by property tax referenda is used and the effect of such referenda on teacher pay.

“I know there are some on the Republican side of the aisle who believe that the teacher pay issue was settled during the 2019 session, but the truth is far different,” Smith said. “Many school districts across this state are finding it impossible to give their teachers the pay they deserve because state support generally is not keeping pace with the needs of our children. Many public schools are suffering and I look forward to exploring ways to help this summer.”

In addition, the committee will embark on a multi-year study of career counseling in elementary and high schools.

“We will consider the adequacy of state and local funding for a school corporation’s career counseling of students, the workload that counselors have, and the impact that having multiple graduation pathways has on efforts to provide career counseling,” Smith said.

Smith authored the legislation that created the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males in the early 1990s, and has consistently served on the group since that time. The group is charged with studying the social conditions faced by African-American males in Indiana, developing strategies to remedy serious adversities, and making recommendations for improvements in five key areas: criminal justice, education, employment, health, and social factors.

Smith’s final assignment calls for him to serve as advisory member for a group charged with drawing three single-member districts for the Lake County commissioners.

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