Late last week Indiana’s Mitch Daniels succeeded in getting the last of four education bills passed though the Indiana legislature, earning him the title of the best education governor in America (a title he inherits from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush).
The details of the legislative package—having to do with accountability, higher standards, school choice, and reforms in teacher assessment and tenure—are contained in the links I’ve provided, so they don’t need to be recapitulated here. Ryan Streeter, editor of ConservativeHome.com, summarized things quite well at the Standard when he wrote, “When you roll Indiana’s reforms together, you find yourself looking at a state that offers vouchers to all who need them, has made creating new charter schools easier, erased boundaries between districts, delinked teacher pay from seniority, limited collective bargaining, and made student achievement a central measure of teacher evaluation. Back when school reform efforts began in earnest in the 1980s, this combination of reforms would have seemed a utopian dream.”
This is another arrow in the Daniels quiver, which was already quite an impressive one (see his record in areas of job creation, cutting unemployment and government spending, lowering property taxes, turning Indiana into a magnet for venture capital and significantly improving the state’s business climate, earning Indiana its first triple-A bond rating, introducing state-sponsored medical insurance built around health savings accounts, reorganizing the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles and privatizing the Indiana Toll Road, ending collective bargaining rights to state employees, cutting all state funding for Planned Parenthood, etc.).
There’s no question that if Daniels decides to run for president he would be viewed as quite formidable. And with good reason: he’s an individual of impressive intellectual and political skills. My hunch is that he’d do well. I hope we get to find out.