Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 28, 2014

Schools lose an advocate

Kreg Battles resigns from Legislature

Hoosier teachers, students and parents lost a friend at the Indiana Statehouse this month with the resignation of veteran lawmaker Kreg Battles.

Battles, a Democrat and long-time teacher, often used one of his party’s strongest tools at the Indiana General Assembly. He spoke out, and he spoke well.

As a Democrat in a Republican supermajority, Battles spoke about the realities of education in the state, frequently giving the other side to issues as the General Assembly considered legislation on education policy. He knew the issues because as a high school chemistry teacher in Vincennes, he lived those issues.

Take for instance when a Republican-backed measure to allow licensed gun owners to keep their firearms locked inside vehicles in school parking lots returned in the final weeks of this year’s General Assembly. Battles asked the House to defeat the measure, saying they were asking for trouble.

“The only problem is trying to create a vote for a direct mail piece. This is bad, bad legislation that can only lead to bad things,” Battles said.

Or when the General Assembly dropped the national Common Core State Standards in favor of creating a new set, Battles put on his educator hat in an interview with TheStatehouseFile.com.

“What I’m hearing my colleagues say is, ‘Figure out what the heck you want. We’re tired of you changing the rules of the game on us, constantly again a third time in potentially a nine- to 10-year period. Figure out what you want, stick with it, fine tune it.’ And, that would be my request not so much as a legislator, but as a teacher,” Battles said.

In speaking of Battles’ role in the Democratic caucus, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath of LaPorte said, “Despite his quiet, unassuming manner, Kreg Battles always has been one of the most influential speakers in the House chamber.”

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