INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are considering making changes to K-12 school curriculum requirements.
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) recently told reporters the goal is to better prepare students for today’s workforce.
“How do we do more applied courses, whether we do personal finance courses, mathematical requirements, coding courses, science requirements,” Huston said.
Officials at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce say many employers have been struggling to find skilled candidates for open jobs.
“The availability and quality of workers has been a real challenge,” said Jason Bearce, vice president of education and workforce for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Some schools have added programs in recent years to help meet those needs.
“We hear about welding and how we’re short on welders for manufacturing, and recently our career center has expanded those opportunities,” said Patrick Spray, superintendent at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools.
Republican lawmakers say workforce development is a big priority this session, and they want to expand upon those efforts by changing some K-12 curriculum and graduation requirements.
“Not only thinking about the students themselves, but thinking about the preparation for what’s next in the economy, what’s going to be hot,” said State Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond), who chairs the Senate Education committee.
Raatz said he and other lawmakers are reviewing the current curriculum requirements and trying to find ways to potentially add new ones, especially in areas like financial literacy and computer science.
“Making sure that we are on the edge in technology for students exiting K-12 and helping them prepare even more for higher ed,” Raatz said.
But State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) said he is skeptical about the idea.
“We need to be sure that we are investing in the critical thinking abilities of our students and not just preparing students to succeed at a test or only succeed just to get a job,” Qaddoura said.
Spray said he hopes to see an emphasis on early literacy and foundational math skills to keep children from falling behind as they get older.
“I think sometimes it’s not adding to, but it’s making sure we put the focus on the right things,” Spray said.
Lawmakers are still in the process of drafting legislation ahead of the start of the new legislative session in January.