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Bennett Delivers First State of Education Address

August 24, 2010

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett delivered the first State of Education address last night  to a crowd at Creston Middle School in Indianapolis.  In it, he shared glimpses of his agency’s agenda for the upcoming legislative session.  Top on that list: tying teacher pay and evaluations to student performance.

“Currently, we only reward teachers based on the number of years they teach and the number of degrees they hold.  Equally disturbing is this: our most enthusiastic and effective teachers find themselves at the end of each year wondering if they’re secure in their jobs and this is regardless of how effective they are in the classroom.  They’re insecure based solely on the fact that they’ve taught for fewer years.”

State Representative John Barnes attended the speech.  A social studies teacher in Warren Township schools, where Bennett’s address was delivered, he took issue with the superintendent’s message that schools needed to start putting students first, saying teachers enter the profession because they love kids.  He did support the notion of changing the system for teacher pay, but instead focusing salary increases on teachers working in the state’s lowest performing schools.

“That’s an argument for what we call combat pay, which I think, for want of a better term, is something most teachers agree with.  That if you’re going to have teachers go to areas with more need, we should absolutely pay them more.”

The rest of the speech was a snapshot of the status of Indiana education.  Bennett mentioned in particular, improved ISTEP scores and school frugality in tough economic times.

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