19,000 hours. That's roughly how much time a student spends in a classroom from the time they enter kindergarten to the time they graduate high school. Those hours are spent learning new concepts, completing exams and, most importantly, preparing for their future beyond the classroom.

This is why educational standards, the guidelines teachers follow to instruct their students, are so important. Standards help us measure student performance and learning, so we know our students are gaining the skills they need to excel.

Educational standards have historically been something that states constructed on their own. After all, standards determine everything from how school progress should be evaluated to what skills our students take with them into the job market.

Three years ago, however, a group of education professionals, researchers and experts in Washington D.C. created national standards and made them available for adoption in all 50 states. The Common Core standards were designed to streamline education across the country.

Indiana, along with 44 other states, adopted Common Core and in 2011 began implementation in Hoosier kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

Recently, there has been some concern about the quality of Common Core compared to localized standards. In Indiana, a number of educators, parents and policymakers began to worry that a top-down, one-size- fits-all education wasn't best for our kids.

During the 2013 legislative session, my fellow lawmakers and I passed House Enrolled Act 1427 to halt the implementation of Common Core and examine our state's options.

It is outlined in the Indiana constitution that Hoosier's have the right to create and maintain our own educational standards. That is a right I think we should continue to exercise.

It's hard to imagine that Washington D.C. had Indiana's specific needs in mind when creating Common Core. We have to ask ourselves if these national standards are tailored to our students and the needs of our Hoosier economy.

This summer, the Common Core debate has been heating up. During the first public hearing held by the Common Core Educational Standards Committee, legislators heard nearly seven hours of testimony both defending and opposing Common Core.

The committee is scheduled to hold two more public hearings to listen to opinions and input from education experts and the public. Next summer, committee members will make an informed recommendation to the Indiana Department of Education as to what standards our state should use going forward.

In the midst of all of this, let's not forget what truly swings in the balance. It's not money or state's rights; it is our children. In the end, we want them to have the best education possible and the proper tools to be successful in their lives.

If you have ideas and opinions on this issue, please don't hesitate to get involved. You can contact me with your thoughts at Senator.Boots@iga.in.gov or 800-382-9467.