Senate deliberates omnibus schools bill

Joseph J. Bingham Elementary School in Indy's Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.

By Ellie Price

The Statehouse File

A state Senate committee considered an odd collection of education proposals Wednesday, many of which were wrapped into one bill, during a hearing Wednesday.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, is pushing what he calls a set of measures that would improve Indiana's economic and cultural fabric.

Among them: removing class divisions in high school basketball; requiring schools to teach cursive writing; and preventing schools from starting before Labor Day and ending after June 10:

Delph said the David-beats-Goliath aspect of Butler University's Bulldogs making it to the men's national basketball championships rekindled the state's passion for underdog sports stories.

"I learned about the state of Indiana because of basketball," Delph said. "Every once in a while, a school would challenge the big boys, and it was just exciting."

Delph said students should be required to learn cursive writing, which would reverse a decision by the Indiana Department of Education.

"I couldn't understand why our public schools were getting away from teaching cursive," Delph said. "[Future generations] wouldn't know how to sign their names on legal documents or how to read founding documents."

Delph said he supports a later start date to help families with children in school. He said the summer should be a time reserved for family activities.

Others said Delph's bill put in the hands of the state decisions that should be made at the local level.

"You have finally put together a piece of legislation that everyone in the state of Indiana can get angry about," Sen. Timothy Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said.

The Senate Education and Career Development Committee considered several other bills Wednesday, including:

*Establishing multiple enrollment count days for state funding: Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, authored a bill to base school districts' state aid off multiple count days instead of only one day a year.

*Creating guidelines for respectfully singing the national anthem: Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, authored Senate Bill 122, which would punish people who intentionally change the words or medley of the national anthem with $25 fines as long as police witnessed the event.

The committee did not vote on any of the bills Wednesday. Instead, its chairman said, it will likely do so next week.

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