For those who are stumped about what to ask their state legislators to do regarding education, Jennifer McCormick has a ready answer.
“Stop passing laws,” the state superintendent of public instruction said during a presentation Tuesday night at Carroll High School.
Northwest Allen County Schools and its parent group, the Charger Advocates, hosted the free community event to help educate the public about education issues.
McCormick provided an overview about the state of education in Indiana, touching on such issues as enrollment, school funding and mandates.
State lawmakers have implemented numerous requirements since McCormick took office in 2017.
“We're staring at 2,200 new laws just for K-12,” McCormick told the partially filled auditorium. “I encourage you to share with your legislators, 'Just take your foot off the accelerator for a minute.'”
She repeatedly said, “we are who we vote for,” and applauded the more than 30 teachers running for state office.
She also noted a troubling statistic: 35% of teachers will leave the profession within their first five years. The turnover comes with high costs and can be a nightmare for administrators trying to fill the positions as well as for the teachers who taught beside those who left.
“When a good teacher walks out, you feel it every day,” McCormick said. “It takes a toll on everyone.”
McCormick is Indiana's last elected state superintendent. The position will become a governor-appointed secretary of education beginning in January.
It's concerning that citizens are losing their voice at the state level and that Indiana is adding expensive layers of governance when education is being underfunded, McCormick said.
She encouraged the attendees to use their voices.
“The only way we're going to make change in Indiana at K-12 is to inform people, and it takes effort,” she said. “Can you talk to your General Assembly member? Can you contact the governor's office? They represent you.”
Northwest Allen and Charger Advocates plan to continue efforts to educate the community through events like Tuesday's and the legislative forum in January, Superintendent Chris Himsel said.
“We're at the point,” he said, “we need to start paying attention.”