Indiana ‘teacher choice’ initiative raises questions

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wants to provide financial incentives for teachers to transfer to charter schools or underperforming public schools. It’s an interesting idea, but other states have tried it with mixed results. Have we learned from their experience?

Included in Senate Bill 264, Pence’s proposal would give $10,000 a year for up to two years to any teacher who moves to a charter school where at least half the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches or any public school that got a grade of D or F.

The proposal raises questions. Here are a few:

  • Why isn’t it targeted to schools that are likely to need help? Fifty percent free-and-reduced-price lunch isn’t exactly high-poverty; the average FRL rate for Indiana public schools is 49 percent. And nearly one in five schools got a D or F last year.
  • Why not limit the program to teachers who are likely to be successful? A similar program in Washington, D.C., for example, requires teachers to have been rated “highly effective” to qualify for incentive payments. Not so the Indiana legislation. Continue reading