Sen. Todd Young, education leaders discuss collaboration plans | Local News

GOSHEN — U.S. Sen. Todd Young told education leaders Wednesday he hopes Elkhart County’s education movement can serve as a model for collaboration on a national level.

Young, R-Bloomington, visited Goshen early Wednesday afternoon for a private round-table discussion with local educators and leaders at Horizon Education Alliance, or HEA. HEA was formed in 2012 as a network between public schools, local businesses and local nonprofit organizations.

In visiting, Young hoped to learn about Elkhart County’s collaboration between educators and the community to inform his work on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as well as the Career and Technical Education caucus with U.S. Senate and House leaders. Young said he plans to frequent the area for further research.

During the discussion at HEA headquarters in Goshen, board members described their experiences with HEA’s Career Pathways Framework — an initiative to improve the education-to-workforce pipeline by taking a “lifespan approach” to students in the county. HEA leaders also shared updates about several programs, including the Positive Parenting Program, often called “Triple P,” and the PAX Good Behavior Game, a program that teaches students to self-regulate in hopes of reducing classroom distractions and office referrals.

Brian Wiebe, executive director of Horizon Education Alliance, said Elkhart County schools that have implemented PAX have already experienced “significant early reduction in negative behaviors.”

“This could be used across the nation,” Wiebe told Young, adding that Elkhart County was the first county in Indiana to implement PAX, and the second county in the nation to implement PAX and Triple P together. He suggested that Elkhart County could be a model for school districts nationwide.

Business-education collaboration

Wednesday’s meeting also touched on HEA’s Business-Education Roundtable program. The program was designed to help bridge the gap between business leaders and local schools.

John Ganyard, vice president of HR at Jayco Inc., said 10 percent of high school graduates do not attend a four-year university, and he and other business leaders want youth to know that there are great options for careers in Elkhart County.

“Businesses feel fortunate that we have good schools,” Ganyard said. “… We want to show kids that there’s a path here in Elkhart County … You don’t have to go anywhere.”

Young praised HEA’s efforts to level the playing field for students in Elkhart County.

“We can’t really segregate communities and send our kids to different schools and recreate in different places. We need to mix somewhat and have an affinity towards and sympathy towards people who are different from us … (Horizon Education Alliance’s network) facilitates that respect for people who are contributing to the economy and society.”

Future partnerships

Young’s visit concluded with a mention of the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act, a bill he authored.

The bill, which still needs approval from the U.S. Senate, would serve as a public-private partnerships between nonprofits and non-governmental organizations and the federal government, he explained.

Young said his research has revealed many federal programs for at-risk populations “need to be improved or replaced.” His idea is to instead focus on the good that not-for-profits are already accomplishing, and then to find a way to help those organizations “scale up.”

The bill would allow organizations to submit proposals for funding to the federal government.

“We find a philanthropist (to invest)… And so long as we hit these agreed upon outcomes within a 10-year budget window, we will pay … your investors back out of future government savings.” He said that the process would save taxpayers money, creating a win-win situation.

“We start with $100 million in seed capital,” which Young said would go a long way to better serve the individuals who need it most.

“You can apply for that,” Young told HEA leaders. “I think you’d be a strong contender. No promises, but I want to get the word out. I want Indiana to be at the front of this.”

Leandra Beabout can be reached at leandra.beabout@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 314

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