By Tyler Gribbons
Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus vowed on Tuesday to fight for more funding for public schools, which they said will help close an achievement gap that "threatens to shut the doors to opportunity for minority students."
"Education is a cornerstone of a free society in today's world," said Rep. Gregory Porter, the ranking Democrat on the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Three years ago, Gov. Mitch Daniels cut education funding by $300 million as part of a larger effort to reduce spending statewide. Members of the black caucus - who are all Democrats - said it's time to restore that funding to schools.
"Studies have shown that what children learn between the ages of 1 and 3 builds the foundation of education in terms of future progress," said Sen. Lonnie Randolph, an East Chicago Democrat who is chairman of the black caucus.
The education issue was one of several the caucus put on its legislative agenda. Members also said they'll also seek:
Greater economic, education and social opportunities for all residents of Indiana. Public policies that will reduce crime, gun violence and domestic violence. Assistance for families struggling with housing, utilities, clothing and food.
But caucus members acknowledged that pushing their proposals into law could be difficult because Republicans control both the House and Senate. And because there are just four black senators and eight black House members, the caucus is a minority within a minority. However, that doesn't faze Randolph who remains optimistic.
"Because of the disparity in terms of the numbers in both the House and Senate, I think it would be best for both aspects to be fairly, openly and objectively when it comes to analyzing ideas," he said.
Tyler Gribbons is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
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