Of all the states currently working on serious education reform, Indiana may deserve the gold medal.
Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent Tony Bennett fearlessly led the charge to dramatically reform the state’s education system.
“Are we about funding the education of children or funding the education system,” Bennett often said.
To that end, perhaps the most incredible of the reforms was the establishment of the broadest school voucher program in the country. Within the next few years, the vast majority of Indiana students will be able to go to the school of their choice and the state-allotted funding will follow them. Among other reforms includes increasing the number of charter schools, creating a performance pay system for teachers and restricting collective bargaining to pay and benefits.
Restricting collective bargaining was a major component of the reform effort. As Education Action Group has chronicled many times, union collective bargaining agreements have become ridiculous, with numerous provisions that cost schools millions of dollars and cumbersome rules that prevent schools from innovating and improving.
Daniels’ reforms do away with all of that nonsense and allow school officials to make decisions that prioritize students and their needs.
Daniels and Bennett, along with many state legislators, withstood the attacks from unions, school administrators and others in the educational establishment. They fought back against “misinformation” campaigns.
The reformers delivered a major victory for the children of Indiana and have set an example for other states to mimic. Thankfully all of the obnoxious protests, particularly the Democratic lawmakers fleeing to Illinois to stall the legislative process,clearly failed. The landmark changes provide renewed hope for all students of Indiana, particularly those trapped in public schools.
That’s real change the people of Indiana can believe in, courtesy of Gov. Daniels.