Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels State of the State
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels dedicated the second half of his State of the State address to education (full text at www.in.gov/gov/11stateofstate.htm -- also video):
We know what works. It starts with teacher quality. Teacher quality has been found to be twenty times more important than any other factor, including poverty, in determining which kids succeed. Class size, by comparison, is virtually meaningless. Put a great teacher in front of a large class, and you can expect good results. Put a poor teacher in front of a small class, do not expect the kids to learn. In those Asian countries I mentioned, classrooms of thirty-five students are common, and they're beating our socks off.
We won't have done our duty here until every single Indiana youngster has a good teacher every single year. Today, 99 percent of Indiana teachers are rated "effective." If that were true, 99 percent, not one-third, of our students would be passing those national tests.
Today's teachers make more money not because their students learned more but just by living longer and putting another certificate on the wall. Their jobs are protected not by any record of great teaching but simply by seniority. We have seen "teachers of the year" laid off, just because they weren't old enough. This must change. We have waited long enough.
Teachers should have tenure, but they should earn it by proving their ability to help kids learn. Our best teachers should be paid more, much more, and ineffective teachers should be helped to improve or asked to move. Today, the outstanding teacher, the Mr. Watson whose kids are pushed and led to do their best, is treated no better than the worst teacher in the school. That is wrong; for the sake of fairness and the sake of our children, it simply has to end. We have waited long enough.
We are beginning to hold our school leaders accountable for the only thing that really matters: Did the children grow? Did the children learn? Starting this year, schools will get their own grades, in a form we can all understand: 'A' to 'F.' There will be no more hiding behind jargon and gibberish.
But, in this new world of accountability, it is only fair to give our school leadership full flexibility to deliver the results we now expect. Already, I have ordered our Board of Education to peel away unnecessary requirements that consume time and money without really contributing to learning. We are asking this Assembly to repeal other mandates that, whatever their good intentions, ought to be left to local control. I am a supporter of organ donation, and cancer awareness, and preventing mosquito-borne disease, but if a local superintendent or school board thinks time spent on these mandated courses interferes with the teaching of math, or English, or science, it should be their right to eliminate them from a crowded school day.
And, while unions and collective bargaining are the right of those teachers who wish to engage in them, they go too far when they dictate the color of the teachers' lounge, who can monitor recess, or on what days the principal is allowed to hold a staff meeting. We must free our school leaders from all the handcuffs that reduce their ability to meet the higher expectations we now have for student achievement.