Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels, now has a Republican majority in both houses of the Indiana legislature. This means that his "agenda" will likely be enacted. Why do I think that? Well...let's see what he has to say.
"Starting first thing (this) morning, the real work begins," Daniels said. "We are going to bring Indiana a new wave of reform in state government, a new wave of reform in local government. And we are going to finally give the students of Indiana an education system built around them."Mitch isn't a friend of public education at all. His agenda includes more charters, "merit pay" for teachers and the end of collective bargaining for teachers. He uses the same old discredited rhetoric of how those three changes will help our state's children.
And, he said, "we are going to preserve the most taxpayer-friendly government in the United States of America. . . . We are never going back."
Education a key focusDaniels has wanted to "bust the union" since he was elected. The Indiana State Teachers Association has seen better days. Financial scandal and increased dues threatened the union over the last couple of years...and continuing pressure from the state will add to its woes.
...While balancing Indiana’s budget without raising taxes is the top priority, Daniels also singled out education reforms. He advocated erasing limits on how many charter schools can be created; was open to the idea of vouchers that parents could use to send their children to a private school; and will seek to eliminate any state laws, regulations or local teacher contract strictures that tie the hands of local school superintendents in order to give them more flexibility.
The ISTA worked hard this election season to elect pro-public education teachers, but the conservative mood of the voters made it all but impossible to keep a Democratic majority in either of the state legislative houses.
Daniels is also the one who has tampered with the tax system of funding the public schools in Indiana. He was able to get funding for education moved from property tax revenue to sales and income tax. Following that he orchestrated a cap on property taxes at 1% which, because of a measure on this year's ballot, will be part of the state's constitution.
This tax juggling resulted in a $300 million reduction in revenue for public schools. Mitch's goal? Well, add it up.
Massive cuts in support for public education + Merit Pay for teachers + Vouchers + Charter Schools + Removing the Power of the ISTA in Education (through repeal of the state's collective bargaining law)
It's clear to me that equals an attempt to weaken or destroy the public schools in this state.
This five pronged attack on public education is built on talking points and plans that don't have any basis in fact.
Merit Pay, for example, has not increased test scores in places it has been used.
Voucher plans have more often than not, been declared unconstitutional because of their entanglement with religious schools.
Collective Bargaining and teacher's unions have been blamed for poor school performance, however this ignores the fact that states without collective bargaining laws for teachers have among the lowest achieving students (based on test scores) in the country.*(Click here for more)
And finally charter schools have been shown to be no better than public schools.
If Mitch really wanted to do something for education in Indiana he would find a way to reduce the number of families living in poverty.