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Indiana Senate Panel Takes Up Charter Schools Bill

An Indiana Senate committee has been discussing House-passed legislation that would expand the number of charter schools in the Hoosier State.House Bill 1002 is a Republican-sponsored measure that would make it easier to create more charter schools, which receive public funding but can be exempt from certain state regulations.Indiana currently has 62 charter schools.Supporters say they give students and educators a chance to be innovative and explore ways to improve academic performance. Critics say they siphon resources away from traditional public schools and put them at a disadvantage.The Senate Education Committee discussed but took no action on the measure Wednesday.State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett, who supports the bill, says it’s not intended to be a silver bullet, but part of a larger comprehensive education reform blueprint.The hearing came on the same day as the release of a new study that found Indiana students who transferred to charter schools showed greater learning gains than their peers who remained in traditional public schools.(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.