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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Legislation would expand Indiana college degree options

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Indiana lawmakers on the House Education Committee have unanimously approved a Senate bill designed to lower college debt and expand educational opportunities statewide.

State Sen. Jean Leising - R-Oldenburg - told the committee that she authored Senate Bill 8 to mandate state universities re-examine their degree programs, to see if they could be accomplished in less time.

"That they have to look at four-year bachelor programs and see if any of them could be completed in three years," said Leising. "Wouldn't it be nice for kids, like I represent in my rural counties, to be able to complete a bachelor's degree in three years and hold down the cost of education?"

The committee introduced a few amendments to offer smaller schools more implementation flexibility, and requiring universities to disclose foreign financial gifts - including a five-year look-back period.

Leising's bill garnered bipartisan support.

It also would create a statewide "reverse transfer" policy for Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, to award associate degrees to eligible former and current students.

Leising said in drafting the bill, she drew from personal experiences and program successes like Indiana's College Core - which is a block of 30 credit-hours that are transferable between all public colleges and universities in the state.

"I liked the looks of it when they first approached me, because I saw the benefits to my own granddaughter," said Leising. "When she graduated from a small private high school with about 200 kids, and she had 37 college credits to transfer directly to Purdue with the letter grades."

The legislation is a cornerstone of Gov. Eric Holcomb's 2024 "Next Level Agenda," which proponents say could revolutionize Indiana's education landscape for students and families grappling with costs.




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