Mitch Daniels used his first term to get Indiana’s fiscal house in order. His second term sealed his reputation as the education reform governor.
“Truly historic changes” came to Indiana schools, the American Legislative Exchange Council said in its 2012 Report Card on American Education.
“Indiana moved up into the A’s for the first time after the reform-minded governor and legislature greatly improved the state charter law in 2011,” said the Center for Education Reform Report.
The Weekly Standard, a national journal of conservative thought, credited Daniels for “taking Indiana from the backwaters of education reform in America to the forefront.”
It’s a bit early to claim success. It will be several years before Hoosiers know if reforms instituted by Daniels will actually boost test scores. ISTEP passage rates are creeping up and graduation rates are higher, but there’s yet to be noticeable improvement on the National Assessment of Education Progress or the SAT. Further complicating the picture was Tuesday’s unexpected defeat of Republican School Superintendent Tony Bennett by Democrat Glenda Ritz.
Daniels took office in 2005, but his first term was consumed with budget balancing and recession, which delayed his educational initiatives until the middle of term two. Once he and Bennett turned their sights on schools, change was fast and furious.