Sabrina shares her thoughts on closing the Education Gap


Undervaluing Education

It says a lot about our country that we pay our professional athletes more to entertain us than we pay our professional educators to teach us. Shamefully, teachers in our country earn about 20% less than similarly skilled and similarly educated professionals. (Economic Policy Institute.) That’s shortsightedness, and poor public policy on display.

I support fair school funding and increasing teachers’ pay. However, while I agree teachers’ salaries must be commensurate with similar professionals, I do not agree that teachers’ pay is the root cause of our poor standardized test scores.  


Trauma At Home Means Drama in the Classroom

If we have the courage to bring bold honesty to the education conversation, we will admit that test scores in our public schools are depressed in large part by chronic and disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Too many teachers in our public schools have told me they spend more time disciplining students in the classroom than they do actually teaching, wasting precious instructional time. Time spent dealing with disrespectful students who assault and talk back to teachers, fight with each other, and act up during class, is lost time, making it impossible for other students in the room to learn. 


We Need Trauma Sensitive Education Policies

Children who chronically act up in the classroom hurt the comprehension and test scores of EVERYONE in the class. The bad news is, students who really want to learn at our public schools are hijacked by the daily drama, and their future prospects suffer. The good news is, we can increase learning in the classroom by identifying students who need social and mental health supports due to trauma at home. To effectively address the role home trauma plays in the classroom, I support:

· The RISE (Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion) from Trauma Act of 2019, to build a trauma-informed workforce in schools, to provide support to young children and families who have been exposed to trauma. 

· The Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2019, which seeks to increase youth access to evidence-based, comprehensive mental health programs in local schools and communities. 

· The Success in the Middle Act which would provide middle school students with academic and social and emotional supports, improving the transitions for students between elementary, middle, and secondary school, and providing professional development to staff to implement evidence-based models.


Indiana Is Getting It Right!

I also applaud and support the Indiana Department of Education’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Health Plan for children, found at IC 20-19-5, designed to coordinate social, emotional, and behavioral health needs of our youth including comprehensive mental health services, early intervention, and treatment from birth through twenty-two years of age.

It is absolutely essential as a state, region and nation, that we:

· make clinical psychologists available in every school district to support students and parents in need;

· include mental health screening as a part of routine examinations in schools and by health care providers;

· assist students and their families in obtaining necessary social, emotional, and mental health services and coordinate interagency referral networks from birth through twenty-two (22) years of age;

· develop guidelines for incorporating social, emotional, and behavioral development into school learning standards and education programs, with outcome indicators, benchmarks to measure progress, and quality data tracking and reporting systems; 

· implement a public awareness campaign to reduce the stigma of mental illness; and

· Unlink teacher and school evaluations from standardized test performance scores (such as ILearn).

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Indiana's First Congressional District