Understanding Education Legislation

Jan 15, 2017 by

How to make sense of the ever-changing legislative landscape for educators.

Education Policy Ever Changing

In 2016, 17 separate bills were approved by both houses of the Indiana Legislature and made law when signed by Governor Mike Pence.  These laws included sweeping reforms that redefined the state standardized testing program, changed how schools received funding and how teachers are evaluated, as well as how schools are rated.  Indiana was not the only state to see such active education legislation in 2016. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, over 1200 separate pieces of education legislation were passed at the state level.  School leaders are expected to understand these new laws and what will be required to affect the changes in their individual schools and districts.

Be Proactive or Risk Non-Compliance

All too often, school leaders are only made aware of these changes when a bill becomes law.  While many teachers and administrators can accommodate changes in policy and procedure with limited inconvenience, more drastic demands like curriculum changes, standardized testing, salaries and lunch guidelines can leave shareholders scrambling to meet legal demands in the required timeframe. In some cases, school leaders may miss opportunities to secure funding and other resources by not being prepared to take action as new education laws are enacted.  For example, Indiana educators are looking forward to providing additional compensation for teachers assuming mentoring roles, but in order to take advantage of the newly available funds on day one of the new program, foresight and planning is required at many levels.

Tap Into These Resources and Get Ahead of the Curve

The best way to insure your school is prepared for whatever new laws may be coming your way is to stay informed of what is in the legislative pipeline in your state.  Here are a few reliable websites that can help you understand what your local representatives have in the works for your school.

NCSL.org – The National Conference of State Legislatures has a searchable database for current and past legislation from each state.

LegiScan.com – This site is great for tracking pending legislation and allows you to set up alerts for specific pieces of legislation.

Govtrack.us – This site is for federal legislation.  It does include information on legislation from past years, as well as pending legislation.

Your Best Source for Legislative Information

The strongest resource for any successful school leader is the human resource.  Discussions among parents, teachers, administrators and school board members will not only discern information among these shareholders, but will also empower these individuals as they share their perspectives on the democratic nature of public education.

In the comments below, share how your school district is affected by state or federal policy changes.

Keywords: Legislation, Education Policy, National Council of State Legislatures, Education Law, School Policy

References

  1. 2016 Bill Watch – 2016 Bills Sent to the Governor’s Office. (2017, January 5). Retrieved from: http://www.in.gov/gov/2016billwatch.htm
  2. Education Bill Tracking Database. (2017, January 5). Retrieved from National Conference of State Legislators: http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/education-bill-tracking-database.aspx
  3. Superintendent Addresses Missed Title One Deadline. (2016, September 13). Retrieved from WLTX 19: wltx.com/news/local/superintendent-addresses-missed…deadline/318293934
  4. Representative Dale DeVon, Rep. Wendy McNamara, Rep. Anthony Cook, Rep. Timothy Wesco. (2016, January 5). House Bill 1005. Retrieved from Indiana General Assembly: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/house/1005#digest-heading

 

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