Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Outlines Its 2023 Agenda | politics

Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus met early Monday morning to announce their 2023 legislative agenda.







The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus outlines its 2023 agenda

A 2022 file photo of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.




Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago, introduced bills he and other members had authored, many of which focused on closing gaps in education and socioeconomic status.

House Bill 1449, authored by Harris, and Senate Bill 435, authored by Senator Eddie Melton, D-Gary, both target automatic enrollment in Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program.

Automatic enrollment eliminates the problem of eligible students missing the enrollment deadline, which according to learnmoreindiana.org is currently set for June 30 of the eligible student’s eighth grade. Indiana’s Promise: A report on the 21st Century Scholars program states that only about half of eligible students enroll each year.

“Although they are more likely to live in poverty, African American students and students of color are disproportionately represented in the program,” Harris said.

The IBLC emphasized that the success of the students is also based on the success of their instructors.

“Preparing our students for success means that the people who train them must be set up to succeed and be able to provide the best education possible,” Harris said.

One way IBLC is working on this is by providing more funding opportunities for teachers. Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis, is the author of House Bill 1571. This bill aims to create a stipend for educators who want to become literacy professionals.

“The achievement gap between African American students and their non-Black peers has been a problem in Indiana for generations, but has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Harris said in a press release after the event. “Now we are challenged to not only bring African American students and students of color back to the level they were academically before the pandemic, but to bring them to the same level as their white peers.

He continued, “If Indiana’s workforce is more educated and highly skilled, all Hoosiers will benefit.”

The IBLC also discussed the group’s relationship with Republicans and other issues of concern, including housing, health care and ensuring equality within Indiana’s legislature.

For example, Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, noted that IBLC members will push for equal business opportunities when marijuana is legalized in Indiana.

Harris emphasized that her agenda is focused on providing support and opportunity for all Indiana residents.

“We will continue to put these items on our agenda to see how they develop,” he said.

According to the IBLC website, there are currently 10 Indiana House Representatives and five Indiana Senators in the IBLC. The group describes itself as working together to create policies and pass legislation to positively impact Hoosiers, particularly those in minority communities.

Kyra Howard is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website run by Franklin College journalism students.

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