• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Governor Mitch Daniels Champions Education Reforms

    Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed into law legislation to implement the nation’s largest school voucher program. And this week, the Governor visited Washington, D.C., to highlight his education reform agenda, which is rooted in the belief that those closest to students know them best—a fact which should drive education policy.

    In his speech at the American Enterprise Institute May 4, Daniels outlined the four major elements of the state’s education reforms: expanding school choice, increasing school accountability, improving teacher quality, and limiting the stranglehold collective bargaining has had over local schools.

    Daniels boldly stated that Indiana will no longer “incarcerate any family’s kid in a school that they don’t believe is working.”

    To this end, the Governor has created a voucher program that within three years will be available to approximately 60 percent of Hoosier families. Additionally, the state is expanding its tuition tax credit program, which provides tax credits to corporations that donate money to scholarship-granting organizations. It is also implementing a new policy to provide tax credits to families for a variety of approved educational expenses, such as tuition.

    The state’s reforms include increasing accountability to parents and taxpayers by implementing a system that grades schools on an A through F scale, which replaces “the more complicated category names now used to label a school’s performance.” This will provide a simple way for families to gauge how their children’s schools are performing. The new legislation will also require teachers to be tested annually, with results being publicized, to allow parents to know how their child’s teacher is performing.

    Also, as Governor Daniels noted, because teacher quality is “the dominant variable” in students’ educational outcomes, no parent will be required to leave a child with an underperforming teacher two years in a row. Similarly, to promote exceptional teaching, teachers will be rewarded for their performance, rather than for their seniority.

    Furthermore, Daniels noted that collective bargaining’s power over schools must be limited. He stated:

    The principals, the school boards, the superintendents that we are determined to hold accountable for student growth, have been hamstrung…in a myriad of ways…from the contracts that their school boards have signed with local teachers unions.

    Indiana’s new legislation would limit collective bargaining to wages and benefits, no longer allowing unions to dictate everything from the color of paint in a school to how frequently a principal can meet with a teacher.

    Such reforms, which put power into the hands of parents and those at the local level, are the way to best ensure that the needs of students are met. And if the results of similar education reforms implemented in Florida more than a decade ago are any indication of what lies ahead for Indiana students, these children have a bright academic future ahead of them.

    Despite Indiana’s promising state-led reforms, Governor Daniels also expressed his support for national academic standards. Unfortunately, such standards are in direct opposition to the very reforms being implemented by Daniels, because they cede control to federal bureaucrats in Washington to decide what is taught in classrooms. Additionally, national standards would likely lead to the standardization of mediocrity rather than establishing standards of excellence.

    National standards have quickly become a focal point of the Obama Administration’s education plan, with federal dollars being tied to whether a state agrees to adopt them. Such heavy-handed involvement by Washington silences the voices of parents and local leaders and is a clear overreach of federal power in education.

    Indiana is leading the way to improved education with innovative and bold reforms. Yet Indiana and other states must be careful to guard against federal intervention that would come with policies such as national standards. Ensuring that the control of education remains in the hands of those closest to the student, through reforms just like Indiana’s, is the way to a bright future for education in America.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Governor Mitch Daniels Champions Education Reforms

    1. West Texan says:

      Bravo to Governor Daniels. And eliminate the federal's DOE as theirs is the most useless, wasteful and intrusive unconstitutional overreach into states' affairs.

    2. Mark Holaway, Jackso says:

      I think that to be fair and consistent, Governor Daniels should include annual testing for other public servants as well as public school teachers, including himself. Ideally, no citizen in Indiana should be subjected to two years of an underperforming governor if indeed we are going to look at First Grade teachers working in Gary and make the statement that no parent should be subjected to two years of an under-performing teacher. Leading by example, the governor would subject himself to an assessment of his abilities to govern whether or not the people making the assessment shared his vision for what constituted doing his job appropriately. Logically, then, this should be implemented across the board for all Indiana public servant positions. Legislators, Department of Motor Vehicle Services, state security officials, state prison workers. Logically, a good deal of what he says makes sense. However, isolating one population of public servants does not on the surface seem like an adequate remedy. I know what you are saying–annual evaluations are already in place in all these positions (or most of them). Yes, but how many of them carry such menacing consequences for underperforming and how many of these positions carry with them so much variability based on external factors–parenting competency, community environment, access to resources, adequate nutrition necessary for optimal cognition. The prison guard, for instance, is presented with a population which have for the most part the same resources: same food, same resources, same community environment–yet even under these "ideal" circumstances our ability to put and keep folks back on the street and reform socially unacceptable behaviors is not uniformly successful. All people who for their job interact with people (human services) encounter variability in how people react to them–social workers, medical professionals as well as teachers. We understand that human beings are unique and there is no cookie cutter approach that will heal everyone uniformly–why do we think there is a cookie cutter approach that will educate everyone despite differences in learning styles and cognition. I am not excusing underperforming schools. Stripping communities of resources and redistributing them through vouchers appears to have the ability to widen the gap between the haves and the have nots if the governor's full platform meets its logical end. This is going to create more class conflict and leave more students caught in the cross-hairs of this ideological battle taking place in America between conservatives and liberals.

    3. Tennisman says:

      Very well written piece, which explains clearly the reforms Gov Daniels has shepherded through the Indiana legislature.

      What we conservatives here in NJ wouldn't give to have these reforms passed in our state.

      We are #1 in the country in dollars spent per pupil, K-12. State average is over $17K per student. Our inner city schools spend even more per student, like in our largest city Newark where it is over $23K per!

      And even at that figure, $23K per student, the school system is for all practical purposes a total failure.

      Yet the unions keep telling us that we need to spend even more money.

      Ah, but that we could only be like Indiana?

    4. Mary, Indianapolis, says:

      Praise and Thanks to our Gov. Daniels for this game changing legislation! Accountability of teachers and parent choice is fundamental to the rising sucess of students in our state. Let's hope other states follow our lead.

    5. Pingback: Governor Mitch Daniels Champions Education Reforms | The Foundry - Angryteach

    6. Pingback: Governor Mitch Daniels Champions Education Reforms | The Foundry | Daily News 24 Hours and seven day a week, Best News around the World

    7. William says:

      Don't you just love it? Our wonderful government tells us in so many instances, "We'll take care of all things for you, cradle to grave. We're the "experts" just leave it to us" BUT, when it comes to the government run, failing public educational system, PARENTS are blamed routinely because they aren't involved in the process of teaching their children.

      Now, since the government has done such a wonderful job of fostering a culture of government dependence for life, is it any wonder parents EXPECT their children to be well educated, without the parent having to be involved???

      You reap what you sow.

    8. Diana Brown says:

      Good for Governor Daniels and I am very glad for the children that live in Indiana. I wish that all Governors could follow his plans. We need to get the federal government out of our education system. NOW!!!!

    9. Leslie, Portland Ore says:

      He seems to be following the lead of Belgium–let the money stay with the student wherever THEY and their parents choose to take it. That would eliminate a myriad of competence and quality problems. YAY Mitch! Finally…an adult in the room!

    10. Pingback: Obama's NLRB Launches Attack on Private Industry | The Foundry

    11. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I don't know if Mitch is a RINO, he seems blind to the core issue in my mind, Freedom Of States to create Curriculum! I was there when Thought Crime was introduced in Traffic Law! The Feds used the same tactic, adopt 'National Standards' or lose Federal Highway Funds! The Progressives used Traffic Law to undermine 'Habias Corpus' so that Statistical Crimes without actual damages could make their way into Law. I knew it at the time, I was an Intern in Policy Planning and protege of John A Vaughan (Just under the Exec Dir at Colo DOT, our Highway Department.) I was tasked with Legislative Summaries, but it was an issue at the time, State's Rights, it was Unconstitutional for the Federal Government at the time to mandate junk for States.

      I like every one of the Five Points in your article, but just as I suspected, we left out the one that restores the Curriculum to something vaguely American! I suspect the Progressives are far ahead of Republicans on the School Choice issue. "You can have School Choice when we have complete control of the Private Curriculum!" So, if the Democrats will let us have School Choice, it means the Curriculum has already been tainted so as to uphold the Indoctrination of American Students. Our Public Perceptions have been "managed" sufficient by other means. Great news! I only wish States could draw up the Curriculum instead of playing to Obama's rigged 'race to the bottom' contest. Notice? Only the Progressive States could possible 'win.' (Dealing with Gangsters, you always lose.)

    12. Renny, Maryland says:

      Amen to Governor Daniels. Now where are all the other states??? Waiting on the big "O???"

    13. Al Kirke, Plano, Tex says:

      As part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Congress required the President to find

      out just what it was that caused kids in school to learn. The work was done

      by John Coleman, who collected statistics from Canada to Mexico, and from

      California to New England. His work was published as published as

      The Coleman Report, It was accused as being "Anti Education"

      So a symposium was held at Harvard, to review Coleman's work.

      The work was published as: On Equality of Educational Opportunity.

      The fundamental element was this: When the performance of a kid in school

      is compared to the educational and cultural level of his parents, there is nothing

      left for the school to affect.

    14. AD says:

      Mark seems to not understand how representative democracy works (if he's an EduCrat, that would explain it); but to simplify things for him, his proposed accountability up-and-down the ranks of government employees could be a great idea, if his teacher compatriots were willing to "stand for election" and submit themselves to a vote of the parents in their school district as to whether or not they were to be retained, in the same manner that the Governor, State-Senators, State-Assemblymembers, and other elected officials submit themselves periodically to the will of the voters.

      I think such a proposal has about the same chance as an icicle in Hell.

    15. Jack from Chicago says:

      For too long public schools were about the adults and not the kids. "Waiting for Superman" is a great documentary on the subject.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×