Capitol News

Indiana

"Teacher choice" one of Pence's education proposals

Gov. Mike Pence laid out his 2014 legislative agenda in a speech Thursday at the annual Legislative Conference. (Scott Elliott) Gov. Mike Pence wants to extend the concept of school choice to teachers, he said today, offering state aid to those who are willing to work in low-scoring, high-poverty schools. Pence made education a centerpiece of the 2014 legislative agenda he announced in a speech today, with the novel "teacher choice" program one of five plans aimed at improving schools. Under the plan, teachers who chose to work at low-performing schools serving high-poverty communities would receive a salary boost from the state. Details of Pence's proposals — especially the potential costs — have not yet been determined, according to his staff. Also among his education ideas were a plan for Indiana to venture for the first time into direct funding of preschool for poor children and a proposal to expand career and technical education programs he pushed through the legislature earlier this year. Four of his proposals — to help charter school networks, make it easier for charter schools to use school district buildings, establish an educator innovation fund, and the teacher choice program — were first aired in a controversial email released by state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on Wednesday. The email, written by a lawyer from the Center for Education and Career Innovation that Pence developed, included proposals for Pence's education legislative agenda. Ritz released the email as part of her complaint that the center is aiming to strip her of her powers as state board chairman. Pence said Thursday he would not support a bill to limit Ritz's power. Here's more detail on each of Pence's proposals:
Indiana

At legislative kickoff, lawmakers ponder preschool, state board and Common Core

On Organization Day, Indiana legislative leaders annually gather for a mostly ceremonial start to the upcoming legislative session. Will 2014 be another big year for new education laws? That's hard to say. As lawmakers began to pitch ideas today for the 2014 legislative session, opinions diverged on how much could be accomplished on hot education issues like the Common Core, preschool funding and discord on the Indiana State Board of Education. Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, doesn't think education will be a big focus this time. "I don't have any priorities for education for session 2014," he said. "I think we passed some pretty significant bills the past three years and I think it's time to take a rest." But across the statehouse, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said improving early childhood education and addressing the “skills gap" that he said leaves high school graduates ill-prepared for work and college, were two of his four top priorities for 2014. He also hinted the legislature could wade into a dispute among state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Board of Education over who directs education policymaking. "Our state's constitution clearly gives that task to the elected legislative bodies in this chamber and the senate," Bosma said. The legislature officially began the new session Tuesday with its annual "organization day," a mostly ceremonial event. Lawmakers begin their work in earnest when they next meet in early January.