INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mitch Daniels took a victory lap Saturday celebrating passage of his entire education agenda during the 2011 legislative session.
In Daniels' Statehouse office, while two dozen younger Indiana teachers he said would benefit looked on, the governor signed his name to Senate Enrolled Act 1, making it law.
The measure requires school corporations to evaluate and pay teachers based mostly on student performance on standardized tests. Teachers with high performing students would earn more money, while less successful teachers would be denied salary increases and scheduled pay raises.
The new law also minimizes teacher salary increases based on years of service or additional degrees attained.
Daniels said the new law is more fair, especially for high-quality younger teachers who currently receive lower salaries and face a greater possibility of layoff than teachers that have served for many years but are less effective in the classroom.
"Indiana has leaped to the forefront in saying to people of all walks of life and all backgrounds -- come and teach," Daniels said.
"And if you're good at it and you help our young people grow, and in particular you help our most vulnerable young people grow, you'll not only be protected in your job, you will be rewarded."
New teacher evaluation standards are just one piece of the governor's education agenda set to become law over the next two weeks.
Before adjourning for the year Friday, the Republican-controlled General Assembly voted to create the most generous school voucher program in the nation, make it easier to open new charter schools, permit the state to take over and privatize management of public schools and expand funding for full-day kindergarten.
"There have been other sessions where we've done huge things, but long-term this may be the most meaningful set of changes of all," Daniels said.
House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said all of those changes are a part of "the complete disaster" that was this year's legislative session.
Bauer said the state budget cuts funding to most public schools in the next two years, on top of $600 million in cuts ordered by Daniels in 2010 and 2011, which will result in fewer programs, larger class sizes and more "failing" schools to be taken over by the state and sold for pennies on the dollar.
"In the weeks and months ahead, the dirty reality of what has been accomplished through single-party control of this legislature will begin to dawn on the people of Indiana," Bauer said.