By Steve Gunn
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Outgoing Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels helped shape and implement some of the most expansive education reforms in the nation.
He worked with his fearless state superintendent, Tony Bennett, to help create the largest private school voucher program in the country, tie teacher evaluations to student performance, greatly expand charter school opportunities for Hoosier students, and make it possible for the state to take over chronically failing schools.
Daniels and company fought bitterly with Indiana’s teachers unions to impose that agenda and put the interests of students ahead of Big Labor.
In an address to reformers at the Foundation for Excellence in Education conference in Washington, D.C. this week, Daniels reflected on his reform efforts as he prepares to transition into his new position as president of Purdue University, the Washington Times reports.
He warned that the unions and their supporters will never stop trying to obstruct education reforms that don’t fit their self-serving agenda. They still have the power to kill reform policies, like they did in Idaho in the November election, or to attack and defeat public officials who push for reform, he said.
That’s what happened to Bennett, who was upset in November by union puppet Glenda Ritz in the state superintendent election.
“Despite all of the progress that has been in states like ours, the forces of (resistance) never quit,” Daniels told his audience. “On the merits, on the apparent politics, we should be good to go. But you know what? The last twitch of the dinosaur’s tail can still kill you.”
Daniels’ words of wisdom not only apply in Indiana, but also in states like Idaho, Michigan, Wisconsin, and numerous others where unions have spent millions to maintain their influence.
In many cases, the union tactics have worked, but the momentum of public opinion remains with education reformers. That’s the case in Indiana, where Daniels’ replacement, Gov.-elect Mike Pence, has promised to push forward with the programs started by Daniels and Bennett.
Thank goodness there are good people willing to go chin-to-chin with Big Labor on behalf of our nation’s students. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Gov. Daniels for all of his efforts on behalf of the students of Indiana.