It has been an interesting couple of weeks for IAACE this legislative session. Hopefully you have been keeping up with our updates, but in case not, here is a quick recap of what has been happening and what you can do moving forward.
In January, IAACE was made aware that HB 1002 had been introduced and it contained language removing adult education from Indiana state statute. HB 1002 would also sunset most workforce development funding in anticipation of the upcoming budget session. All programs would be evaluated for their return on investment as the legislature determines what to fund for the next budget cycle. As soon as we were made aware, IAACE acted quickly on your behalf. Several IAACE Board members as well as a former student from Central Nine spoke about adult education and its importance at the House Ways and Means Committee Hearing. Several of you also contacted your legislators asking them to keep adult education in statute. IAACE also worked with COABE and their Educate and Elevate campaign to use their “Contact Your Legislators” program. I am happy to report that shortly after the bill passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and went before the whole House, the bill’s author removed the language that would have removed adult education from statute. There is not doubt that your hard work contacting legislators had an impact in this decision.
While we are certainly celebrating this small victory, this has truly been a wake up call for the adult education field. While we have been doing great things in our programs across the state, we may have become too comfortable in our position. This summer, the legislature will begin working on the State budget for the next two years. It is clear that there are some that would like to see a shake-up in workforce development funding of which adult education is part of. It is up to us to make sure that adult education is seen as an important piece of the workforce development initiative, as we all know it is. We as the IAACE Board feel it is critical that we increase our advocacy efforts. We feel strongly enough that we are in the process of hiring a lobbyist that will help us organize and mobilize our efforts. We will have more guidance coming out in the next few months, but for now, here is what you can do:
- Continue the great work you are doing. You are impacting Hoosier lives by helping them get an education, getting into post-secondary schools and training programs, and by getting them employed so they can support themselves and their families.
- While there is no need to contact legislators at this point with any specific requests, continue to invite them to your programs to see the great work you are doing and meet your students. Invite them to open houses and graduation ceremonies.
- Gather and share student success stories. Both IAACE and DWD are collecting your student success stories and sharing those out. Our goal is to have pages and pages of success stories that we can share with legislators that highlight the impact adult education can have in the lives of Hoosiers.
- Build business partnerships. This years adult education grant funding places an emphasis on building relationships with business. These business partners will not only benefit our programs and our students, but will also be powerful advocates for our programs.
- Continue to support IAACE. We are stronger together and the larger membership we have, the stronger we look to legislators and the more likely they will be to listen. If you are not a member, become one. If your membership is up for renewal, renew it. If your colleagues are not members, encourage them to become one. Your membership is more important now than ever.
Thank you for all you do for your students.
IAACE Past-President/Advocacy Chair