Who’s Going to Teach in Indiana?

For several years, Indiana has been held up as a model state for education reform – if by reform, we mean consistently bad ideas like vouchers, unfettered growth of charter schools, value-added measures in teacher evaluation, performance pay, and efforts at “parent empowerment.”

Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation testified at an Indiana legislative committee hearing (Jan. 2013):

No state in the country has accomplished more on the education reform front than Indiana has over the past two years. On issue after issue—from school vouchers, to teacher evaluations, to collective bargaining reform, to school finance reform—Indiana is leading the way. As you may know, in 2011 my think tank named Indiana the “Education Reform Idol” for its accomplishments. You won in a landslide. You should be very proud of what this legislative body has gotten done.

And then it turned out the state superintendent had his department modify school data reporting formulas with the explicit goal of showing better results for charter schools. He also used state resources to support his campaign. (Details at EdWeek). The voters of Indiana elected, Glenda Ritz, an actual National Board Certified Teacher, to be the new superintendent. Unhappy with the direction of Ritz’s policies, the Indiana legislature redefined and weakened her job – and so Ritz has decided to run for governor.

It’s sad but unsurprising to find out that now Indiana is having trouble attracting and retaining teachers. Go figure. Education leaders in the state are connecting this problem to the state’s failed policies, and calling for a rapid course reversal. Other states should take note.

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