Issue Position: Education
Indiana spends more than $10 billion per year on K-12 students. That's more then $10,000 for every student. K-12 spending takes up almost 40% of the state's annual budget. Hoosiers are generous to our schools -- we regularly rank in the top 20 states for spending on education, more than states that are much wealthier overall.
Hoosiers have been and are right to make funding for education a top priority. But we are also surely right to want our schools to make the best possible use of every dollar we take from our own pockets and give to those who run our school corporations.
Unfortunately, however, too many of those dollars are spent on activities and programs that do not directly contribute to student learning and achievement. Too much of each dollar devoted to K-12 education is spent on administrative and overhead costs. Today, on average only 61 cents of every K-12 dollar is spent in the classroom, even by a liberal interpretation of what counts.
"Only 61 cents of every dollar spent in our schools makes it to the classroom, even under a liberal interpretation of what counts. Each one percent of improvement would mean over $100 million new dollars to hire more teachers, pay them better, make class sizes smaller, reduce the cost of textbooks, and so on. That's a huge opportunity, and we must seize it." - Governor Mitch Daniels
In 2005-6, the last year for which statistics are available, fewer than half of all of the people who worked in Indiana's K-12 system were teachers - ranking the state 48th in the nation in its ratio of teachers to total staff. Our ranking is 45th in terms of the ratio of in-school administrators to teachers working in those schools.
Two years ago, the Indiana General Assembly passed the Governor's proposal to require the Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget to track school expenses in four broad categories in order to measure every school corporation's record in focusing spending in the classroom. As one might expect, results vary widely. But as noted above, the statewide average is only 61 percent. This represents a huge opportunity. Each one per cent improvement would mean over $100 million new dollars to hire teachers, pay them better, reduce the cost of textbooks, and make class sizes smaller.
The 2006 legislation also sought to encourage school corporations to save money by making purchases collectively wherever possible, thus receiving larger discounts from suppliers, and to pool resources to obtain cheaper rates on various forms of insurance coverage. The law has had some success. Working through regional Education Service Centers, some schools have achieved significant savings on their purchase of supplies. But clearly much more action is needed in order to free resources for student learning.
First, in order to ensure that our schools are getting the very best prices for the wide variety of products and services they purchase, Governor Daniels will ask the General Assembly to require that school corporations work through the State's Department of Administration (DOA) to purchase most goods and services, unless they can show they can get better prices another way. DOA's quantity purchase agreements (QPA's) and other contracting arrangements now save taxpayers millions of dollars by using the state's buying power to negotiate the lowest possible prices for everything from office supplies to fuel to computers. For example, DOA estimates that schools across Indiana have saved more than $6 million by purchasing Dell computer equipment through the state.
Second, the Governor would encourage school corporations to increase their spending on student learning by making eligibility for discretionary state grants and programs conditional on school districts meeting at least minimal standards of efficiency in spending the dollars they already receive.
The Hoosier College Promise
Governor Daniels will ask the next Indiana General Assembly to approve the Hoosier College Promise, a program that would provide Indiana high school graduates with more affordable access to higher education.
The Hoosier College Promise would be available to Indiana students from families who earn about $60,000 or less annually. They would receive two years of free tuition at Ivy Tech Community College or an equivalent amount of $6,000 to use for their first two years at another college or university that is recognized by the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI). Students would be required to be enrolled full time and maintain a C' average in a degree program.
"Too many of our kids don't believe they can go to college. Yet the jobs being created in the 21st century require skills and knowledge beyond a high school education. We seek to assure each Indiana high school graduate, as far up the income scale as we can reach, the chance to go to college for at least two years." Governor Mitch Daniels
Indiana ranks 44th among states for share of the adult population over age 25 who have a bachelor's degree and 41st for share of working-age adults with an associate degree or higher. And 69 percent of Indiana high school juniors who are in families where there is no college graduate in the household do not think they can afford to go to college, according to a Commission on Higher Education study.
The Hoosier College Promise would supplement the more than $200 million in need-based financial aid provided through SSACI. For example, students from families with average incomes of $40,000 currently receive an average of $400 of need-based aid to attend Ivy Tech. The governor's plan would make up the difference to $3,000 annually for each of two years. Students who attend four-year public or private universities generally receive larger grants from SSACI and would get less assistance from the Hoosier Promise program.
It is estimated the plan would cost about $50 million annually, once fully implemented. About 24,000 new high school graduates (incoming freshmen) are expected to receive a Hoosier College Promise award each year.
The governor said issuing bonds and repaying them with the growth in Hoosier Lottery revenues is one way to pay for the program. Another is to invite private companies to compete to manage the lottery. Daniels believes that at a minimum, a company would pay the state $1 billion up front for a 30-year agreement. If the state received a higher amount, more students would be eligible.
Ivy Tech has agreed to hold any tuition increase to the rate of inflation for at least five years, assuming consistent state support, and Daniels has challenged other Indiana colleges and universities to consider what they can do to keep tuition increases in check.
* 651,609 Hoosiers completed high school but have no college education (February 2008 Indiana Chamber of Commerce report Indiana's Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance)
* 524,029 Hoosiers have not completed high school (or equivalent) (Chamber report)
* Indiana ranks 44th among states for share of population over age 25 with a bachelor's degree (Chamber report)
* Indiana ranks 41st among states for share of working-age adults with an associate degree or higher (Chamber report)
* Indiana lags the nation in first-year retention rates at public two-year colleges with only 49 percent staying in school (Chamber report)
* Approximately two-thirds of all students borrow money to pay for college. The average debt load for a student graduating with a bachelor's degree has climbed to $20,000 up from $9,000 in 1993 (Commission for Higher Education, March 14, 2008, "Reaching Higher with Affordability")
* Over the last 10 years (1997 to 2007) tuition at Indiana's public four-year universities has risen an average of 105 percent - over the same period Hoosiers' personal income grew by 44.2 percent and CPI (inflation rate) grew by 29 percent (Commission for Higher Education)
* 69 percent of Indiana high school juniors from families without a college graduate in the household and 40 percent with a college graduate in the household did not think they could afford to go to college (Commission for Higher Education)
Opportunities for Hoosiers
* Each year of education beyond high school enables an individual to increase annual earnings by 10 percent.
* Better education leads to better jobs. Forty-four of the state's 50 "Hoosier Hot Jobs" in greatest demand require an education beyond high school.
* The Indiana Department of Workforce Development estimates that by 2014 there will be an additional 222,410 high-wage, high-demand Indiana jobs requiring a post-secondary degree.
* According to the 2007 Kauffman State New Economy Index, Indiana ranks 16th among the states for the "fastest-growing firms," but ranks 43rd for workforce education level.
Tax Credit for Teacher Purchase of School Supplies
Because not enough education dollars reach Hoosier classrooms, many teachers today are forced to buy needed supplies with money from their own pockets.
"This is a modest proposal, but we want to do whatever we can to support teachers and their commitment to students." Governor Mitch Daniels.
Over time, as schools refocus their spending to better support student learning, such out-of-pocket expenses by teachers should no longer be necessary. But in the meantime Governor Daniels' proposes helping out these teachers by offering them a $50 credit on their state income taxes for supplies purchased with their own money. The Governor believes that our teachers' commitment to their students should be recognized by a grateful state.
Finish the Job on Full Day Kindergarten
Governor Daniels intends to ask the next Indiana General Assembly to increase the state funding available to school corporations for full day kindergarten (FDK).
For more than a decade, educators and politicians across Indiana called for the state to provide FDK for all students. In 2007, Governor Daniels signed into law a budget that quadrupled funding for voluntary, full day kindergarten programs from $8.5 million to $33.5 million for the 2007 school year. In the fall of 2008, funding will increase dramatically again to $58.5 million. In all, this represents nearly a 600 percent increase in FDK funding since 2005. As a result, more than 46,000 students, or 56 percent of 5 year-olds, participated in FDK with state funding in the most recent school year, and that number will increase again in the coming year. However, the job of fully funding FDK for all students who wish to enroll is not complete, so Governor Daniels proposes to finish the job.
In schools today, teachers can give out medicines without fear of being sued if a child becomes ill. But they have no such protection if they break up fights or remove disruptive students from their classrooms.
Students can't learn, and teachers can't teach, if schools are unsafe and disruptive kids are not disciplined. Today, too many teachers are afraid to take action to remove disruptive kids from their classrooms or school hallways.
"Ultimately, we need parents to recognize that firm school discipline is in every child's interest, and support teachers in doing whatever is necessary to maintain it. But for now, we need action to see that no student's education is damaged by the bad behavior of anyone around him." - Governor Mitch Daniels
They worry that they will be sued by parents and that they will not get support from their principals or school districts. Such concerns are fair. For example, the Marion County Prosecutor's Office recently brought charges against a teacher for cupping a student's face to get her attention and persuade her to go back to class.
Indiana schools must provide a safe and orderly learning environment for students and teachers. We must put teachers back in charge of their classrooms, and give them appropriate legal protections when they take reasonable actions to maintain discipline in their classrooms or elsewhere in their schools.
Governor Daniels proposes to give teachers protection from lawsuits if they use reasonable discipline to break up fights or remove disruptive students. He would give teachers the same protection in using discipline that they currently enjoy to give out medicines to their students. The Governor will also ask the new Indiana Attorney General to help him in this effort by using that office's statutory authority to defend teachers who are sued over good faith disciplinary actions.
Great Teachers for Our Students
Last year, Governor Daniels partnered with distinguished educator Dr. Arthur Levine, former President of Columbia University Teachers College, to bring a new and exciting teacher preparation program to Indiana. The program, called the Indiana Teaching Fellows program, currently provides funding for 80 top college graduates or mid-career professionals with math and science degrees who spend a year receiving hands-on teaching training while working in school classrooms to create a more realistic clinical education experience. Teachers completing the Fellows program will commit to teaching math and science in urban or rural Indiana classrooms, where the need for strong teachers is the greatest.
"We need major improvement in the math and science mastery of Hoosier kids, and we need it now. The way to get started is a new wave of math teachers who really know their math and science teachers who really know their science, trained intensively for a year in the classrooms of experienced educators." Governor Mitch Daniels
The Governor's plan would use state funding to significantly enlarge the Fellows program, which is currently supported by a private grant, and eventually expand its scope beyond math and science, in order to rapidly develop a corps of exceptionally trained teachers for Indiana's schools. For example, the program's expansion could enable a focus on reading specialists, so that prospective teachers are instructed in scientifically-proven methods of teaching reading, which are based on decades of careful research about how the human brain processes language.
The Governor hopes that the Fellows program will train at least 100 additional teachers each year. In addition, the curriculum changes made by schools of education to be eligible to train Indiana Teaching Fellows will benefit other students at these teacher preparation programs as well.