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4/23 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

Thank you letting us be your trusted source for local, state, and federal policy updates. Let’s dig in …

  • The Childcare Puzzle
  • College Degrees Are Lagging. Indiana’s Higher Ed Leader is Not Satisfied
  • State Board of Education Kicks Off Rulemaking for New Reading Retention Law
  • La Keisha Jackson Wins Caucus to Represent Senate District 34
  • Democratic Precinct Chairs Choose Sharon Tucker as Next Mayor of Fort Wayne
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

The Childcare Puzzle


The cost of day care and preschool rose 4.4% in March from the year before — outpacing the overall inflation rate, per the Bureau of Labor StatisticsEmily writes.

Why it matters: Rising costs are putting stress on families, with some spending at a slower pace and dipping into savings, and there's even some evidence that parents are leaving the workforce entirely.

State of play: The decline in pandemic-era child care benefits and rising wages for child care workers are part of the equation.

  • Last year, the median weekly wage in the industry was $635 — or about $33,000 a year. That's a 27% increase from 2019, even after adjusting for inflation.
  • And pay is still rising. Wages were up 4.8% for these workers in March over last year, according to analysis of pay in job listing data from the jobs site Indeed. That's compared to a 3.1% rise overall.

The big picture: This is hardly a story about high pay run amok — wages are still extremely low in the industry. Rather, child care providers are struggling to attract and retain workers in these low-paying jobs.

  • The end of pandemic-era benefits eliminated the cash providers were using to fund bonuses and higher pay for workers — pushing some to find other ways to pay employees, like raising tuition. (Axios)

College Degrees Are Lagging. Indiana’s Higher Ed Leader is Not Satisfied


Indiana is falling behind on its goal to increase post-high school education for working-age adults. The state's higher education commissioner, Chris Lowery, called this progress unacceptable. Lowery acknowledged some advancements, like more technical and industry certificates and access to college-level courses in high schools, but emphasized that the state is still struggling.

Why it matters: Indiana's low rate of post-high school education attainment is concerning for all staff. It affects the state's future workforce and economic competitiveness. This information matters because a more educated workforce leads to higher employment rates and better opportunities for individuals.

The big picture: Indiana set a goal to have 60% of residents earn a college degree or credential by 2025. However, the state is facing challenges in reaching this target. The state's overall rate of post-high school education attainment has increased, but it still lags behind the goal.

The bottom line: Indiana needs to prioritize efforts to increase post-high school education to meet its goals. The state must focus on improving college enrollment, increasing college completion rates, and retaining graduates to work within Indiana. These goals are part of the HOPE Agenda, which aims to make Indiana a top 10 state in education measures by 2030. (WFYI)

State Board of Education Kicks Off Rulemaking for New Reading Retention Law


The Indiana State Board of Education has begun the process of integrating Senate Enrolled Act 1, a new literacy law recently passed by state lawmakers. The law aims to retain students who fail the reading test and provide them with additional support.

Why it matters: This information is important for all stakeholders in education, including teachers, parents, and administrators. The new law will help identify struggling students early on and provide them with the necessary resources for improvement.

The big picture: By adopting the new law, the State Board of Education aims to align it with existing Indiana code and ensure a smoother implementation process.

The bottom line: The board's resolution directs the Indiana Department of Education to implement various measures, such as using a universal reading screener, administering the IREAD-3 exam to second graders, and supporting locally-designed summer school reading programs. (Indiana Public Media)

La Keisha Jackson Wins Caucus to Represent Senate District 34


City-County Councilor La Keisha Jackson has been chosen to fill the vacant Senate seat previously held by the late Sen. Jean Breaux. Jackson was selected over Chunia Graves, a therapist and vice president of the Marion County Young Democrats, in a Democratic Party caucus. Jackson expressed gratitude for being seen as part of Breaux's legacy and emphasized her commitment to her role as senator. However, it is yet to be determined if Jackson will be on the ballot for the November election.

Why it matters: Jackson's selection is significant for Indiana's Senate District 34. It represents a shift in leadership after more than 30 years of Breaux family representation. This decision will have a direct impact on the constituents of the district, and the outcome of the upcoming election will determine the long-term representation they will have.

The big picture: The selection of Jackson reflects a broader trend of change and continuity within the Democratic Party in Indiana. The party's ability to adapt to changing circumstances and choose a candidate who aligns with their values indicates its commitment to representing the diverse interests and needs of the district. It also underscores the importance of local politics and the role they play in shaping state-level decisions.

The bottom line: With Jackson's appointment, a new era begins for Senate District 34. The outcome of the November election will determine whether Jackson's tenure continues beyond this term. Regardless of the election's outcome, Jackson's focus on transportation, housing, food access, racial disparities, and maternal health demonstrates her commitment to addressing critical issues that affect the district's constituents. (IBJ)

Democratic Precinct Chairs Choose Sharon Tucker as Next Mayor of Fort Wayne


Sharon Tucker has been chosen as the new mayor of Fort Wayne after a historic caucus. She will serve as the city's leader through 2027.

Why it matters: Tucker's election is significant as she will be the first African American and second female mayor in Fort Wayne's history. Her experience on the Allen County Council and Fort Wayne City Council has prepared her to lead the city.

The big picture: Tucker aims to continue the work of Mayor Henry and focus on bringing housing and business development to the 6th district. She also wants to address the future of the North River Property near downtown.

The bottom line: Tucker's election marks a new chapter for Fort Wayne. Her leadership and vision will shape the city's future for years to come. (WANE)

SkyWater Backs Out of $1.8 Billion West Lafayette Project

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Important Dates:


Tuesday, May 14th - Technical Corrections Day