Morris hosts press conference detailing education policies

Jack Morris for State Senate campaign sign.

Press release from the Jack Morris for Indiana State Senate campaign:

Morris hosts press conference detailing education policies
Calls for an end to disproportional school funding and highlights need for Early Childhood Education

(October 27, 2010) – (D) State Senate Candidate Jack Morris announced his plan for early childhood education and development (ECED) initiatives and announced his support for a series of proposals that he says will restore local decision making to school budgets.

Having taught as a substitute teacher, and active in mentoring and tutoring 3rd graders, Morris’s passion for education has driven him to meet with school administrators during his campaign to fully understand their budget problems.

Morris stated, “The three big issues facing Fort Wayne and Indiana are jobs, economy and education; and, all three start with education. A quality education drives the type of jobs and individual can seek, and a community that has a quality education system also attracts higher paying jobs, which promote a stronger economy. ”

Morris pointed out the Ft. Wayne area has received less than its fair share of state money for education and pledges to fight to assure our area receives the money we deserve and need.

First of two addendums:

Senate Candidate Morris pushes to restore local control of school budget

Indiana Senate District 15 candidate Jack Morris announced his support today for a series of proposals that he says will restore local decision making to school budgets. Also included in the proposals are two ways that the state can encourage support of Indiana’s K-12 schools by citizens and corporations.

Morris says he supports the common sense ideas to help schools close budget gaps because they provide needed flexibility without raising taxes or costing any additional state dollars.

The announcement came after members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus released the proposals as part of a larger agenda for 2011. Morris pledged that, if elected, he would support the package of legislative proposals expected for the 2011 legislative session.

At the heart of the proposal is an effort to restore local decision-making by school corporations that have seen increasing state control since the state took over the school general fund. Before the general fund was transferred to the state, school funding decisions were made locally and supported by local property taxes.

Morris said he supports the proposals in light of growing concern over the impact of $300 million cut from K-12 school funding by Governor Mitch Daniels.

“I hope the state will allow local communities to be more flexible in how they want to support our schools,” Morris said. “I’ve been meeting with the CFO’s from East Allen and Fort Wayne Community Schools and know that it is very difficult right now for both educators and our students to be as successful as we can without resources or support.”

The package released by Senate Democrats and supported by Morris includes the following proposals:

School funding flexibility: Allows a school corporation to transfer up to 50 percent of the capital projects fund to its general fund with no stipulations.

A law approved in 2010 allows school corporations to transfer up to 10 percent of a capital projects fund balance to the general fund only if teachers agree to forgo raises. Allowing transfers without such stipulations empowers teachers, administrators and parents to work together to provide the best for students in a unified effort.

Individual tax refund donations: Allows individuals to donate part or all of their state income tax refund to a fund benefitting an Indiana public school corporation or public education foundation by a check-off box on their tax return form. Approximately 30,000 Hoosiers now use this option to donate to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund each year.

Tax credits for donations to K-12 public education foundations: Expands to Indiana public education foundations eligibility for an existing tax credit program for donations to private school scholarship funds.

In 2009, the Indiana General Assembly approved a tax credit for 50 percent of each dollar contributed to organizations that grant scholarships to children attending private schools. By expanding the credit to individuals and corporations that donate to public education foundations, Hoosiers have more options and more students can benefit from private donations. The current cap of $2.5 million in tax credits available each year would remain.

Another addendum:

Jack Morris announces Early Childhood Education proposals

CAFE: Coordinated Action for Early Childhood Education

CAFE sets a framework for coordinated action, including all interested parties, and utilizing all available resources to find a plan that works, both immediately and into the future. The comprehensive plan should take into consideration the following items when developing and implementing the plan:

  • Coordination and enhancement of existing programs
  • Assure ECED is included in child care settings and provide necessary assistance for full compliance
  • Coordination of application for and use of available sources of funding
  • Coordinate with educational efforts with immigrants and refugees
  • Development and approval of programs and materials for use in ECED
  • Creating a metric system to measure program effectiveness and stated mission
  • Develop an educating and training plan for staff involved in ECED
  • Advocacy for additional funding from government and private sources
  • Coordinating government, private sector, and formal education community efforts in providing various aspects of the ECED comprehensive plan
  • Include health care and nutrition professionals

While Jack understands there is an expense to provide early childhood education, he notes, “We are currently paying more by not investing: taxpayers would benefit if we do invest.” Several studies exist by leading economists, providing strong evidence for the economic benefits that early childhood education provides.

Benefits include: job creation, decrease in costs of remedial education, reduced costs for various welfare programs, reduced cost of juvenile and criminal behavior, parents are able to work, increased income tax revenue.

Additionally, in Massachusetts and North Carolina, the early childhood education industry generates $1.5 billion. The same is true in many states, with the ECED industry employing as many people, if not more, and generating as much revenue, if not more, than all major industries.

Every dollar spent on education brings in anywhere from $2-$13 return depending on the programs reach. Along with the economic benefits, our children are facing a competitive future with the emergence of our global society and we must prepare them adequately so that our cities in Indiana remain competitive as well.

Concerned with the Daniels administration, including Senator Wyss’s education priorities, Jack notes, “My opponent has worked with an administration that has crippled education, depriving our children of the tools they need to succeed, and actually costing taxpayers more money. Investment in education is certainly better than the cost of a new football stadium.”

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