Creating First-Rate Education in Indiana
An Address by Governor Mitch Daniels
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Governor Mitch Daniels has championed a number of important educational reforms during this legislative session in Indiana. Under his leadership, Indiana has Listen to Audio

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vigorously pushed for the growth of both virtual and brick-and-mortar charter schools, the empowerment of education leaders negotiating collective-bargaining agreements, an overhaul of the teacher licensure and evaluation system, and the expansion of educational choice for students through vouchers and senior-year scholarships. At this AEI event, Governor Daniels will explain why such changes are vital to public education, and what his team is doing to increase and improve educational options in Indiana.

12:00 p.m.


MITCH DANIELS, Governor of Indiana

Question and Answer

Event Summary

WASHINGTON, MAY 4, 2011--Governor Mitch Daniels touted his successes in Indiana education reform at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday, stressing that bills passed in the just-concluded legislative session "end discrimination against charters" and put the state's education system on the road to recovery after "a regime that attempted to choke the charter school." Still, he stressed that there is a keen focus on improving failing public schools. "I salute the president, [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan; they're right about these things," and they push reforms to a point where they "irritate some of their allies," Daniels said. "You cannot often enough affirm your commitment to the public schools." Pushing public-school reform while affirming the value of charter schools is key in Indiana's reforms, he said. "As this bill was finally crafted, public schools will get first shot at every child," the governor said. "This package of four bills we see as a mutually reinforcing whole. We think it was extremely important that each element of this passed." The reforms focus on teacher quality (including pay based on results rather than seniority), "freedom to lead," and options for parents and students. "Collective bargaining has its place," Daniels told the packed AEI house. "Always will." He said it is "strengthened" under the package passed. However, he decried lobbying practices that include students being given homework assignments to write letters supporting public education, as well as other union campaigning against his efforts. "I'm told that Darth Vader was never really that bad a guy compared to me," he quipped. Daniels said that he believed parental choice provisions are "going to attract a very large share of the attention" but not necessarily be a "very large phenomenon" in his state, predicting that a "meaningful but not very large" segment of families would take advantage of it. "If dollars alone were enough, we all know this problem would have been solved a long time ago," he said, noting that school reformers have no shortage of knowledge as to what works. "We've known that charter schools work. We've known that more competition is helpful." Still, on his legislative reform successes, Daniels said the process is just beginning. "The real test for us is dead ahead, and that is to implement these tools," he said. "I will never stop learning about learning."


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Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of eight books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent books include The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future (Basic Books, 2010), Gross National Happiness (Basic Books, 2008), Social Entrepreneurship (Prentice Hall, 2008), and Who Really Cares (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Mr. Brooks spent twelve years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. was elected as the forty-ninth governor of the State of Indiana in 2004, in his first bid for any elected office. Governor Daniels came from a successful career in business and government, holding numerous top management positions in both the private and public sectors. His work as CEO of the Hudson Institute and president of Eli Lilly and Company’s North American pharmaceutical operations taught him the business skills he brings to state government. He was also chief of staff to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), senior adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. During his first term in Indiana, Governor Daniels spearheaded a host of reforms aimed at improving the performance of state government. These changes and a strong emphasis on performance measurement have led many state agencies—including the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Child Services, and the Department of Correction—to win national awards. Governor Daniels was reelected in 2008 to a second and final term, receiving more votes than any candidate for any public office in the state’s history.


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