DOUG ROSS: Indiana Chamber draws bead on teacher unions

2012-11-21T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Indiana Chamber draws bead on teacher unionsDoug Ross, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357

In keeping with this week's Thanksgiving theme, I'm offering a cornucopia of topics for comment.

Another anti-union move

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar discussed the chamber's legislative agenda for 2013 at the Northwest Indiana Forum in Portage last Friday. It was mostly dry, but there was one juicy tidbit.

Brinegar said the Chamber wants to stop school districts from collecting teacher union dues through payroll deduction. That's a gutsy move.

Teachers are already politically active this year, having mobilized to oust Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, replacing him with reading teacher Glenda Ritz. A move making it more difficult for the unions to collect dues is bound to keep the teachers politically active.

This is on the heels of this year's adoption of the very controversial right-to-work law.

It might be easier to get the proposal on teacher union dues passed by a Republican-controlled Legislature, and signed by a Republican governor, but don't count on the union activists forgetting it when elections come around again.

Purdue campus merger?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is poised to become president of Purdue University, told The Times editorial board last week he's skeptical about maintaining the separate Purdue campuses in Hammond and Westville.

"If you started anew, you probably wouldn't draw it up that way, but here we are, so what's the right thing to do? Is it just continue on or look for some other arrangement?" Daniels asked.

This is "one of the things that's always puzzled me," he said.

When Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas was on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, I learned of the commission's recommendation that  Purdue University Calumet merge with Indiana University Northwest.

With Daniels taking the helm at Purdue, could we see a super-merger that creates a stand-alone university? Or could we see the merger of the two Purdue campuses into a single entity with the same kind of vast regional footprint as Ivy Tech?

Whatever happens, I'm guessing some administrative jobs will disappear.

Duncan reacts to election

Daniels also discussed Democrat Glenda Ritz's upset of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. One of Daniels' first phone calls "was from (U.S. Education Secretary) Arne Duncan, on behalf of President Obama, and he was very worried," Daniels said.

Consensus is that Ritz can't change much, but it's interesting to see how the Indiana Democrats ousted a Republican aligned with the Obama administration in terms of education reform.

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Follow him at and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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