Education policy: What would the Indiana House Republicans do?

It seems likely that Indiana is about to enter a period of one-party rule. What might that look like? A legislative agenda announced recently by House Republicans should provide some clues.

When it comes to education policy, there don’t appear to be a lot of surprises.

The caucus divides its proposals for the 2011 session into three categories: “reward quality teachers,” “focus education dollars on the classroom” and “expand educational options for Hoosier families.”

The first includes allowing merit pay for teachers, providing bonus pay for teachers who pass a competency test, linking compensation to test scores, and addressing “high performance teachers in layoff situations” – which presumably means basing teacher layoffs on something other than seniority.

The second includes giving incentives to school corporations to reduce the cost of employee benefits. Note that’s incentives, not mandates.

There’s been a lot of buzz about this topic since July, when the State Budget Agency released a report that suggested schools and universities could save $450 million a year by joining the state employee health plan. But the report said that most of the savings would come from making benefits less generous Continue reading