Governor Mitch Daniels announced Thursday, the final components of his 2009 K-12 and higher education agenda by proposing to expand a prestigious teacher preparation program and to complete the job of funding full-day kindergarten.
The governor will request state funding to expand the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship a master's degree program that prepares top math and science graduates for careers as math and science teachers in high-need Indiana classrooms. Indiana is the first state to implement this program created by the former president of Columbia Teacher's College, Arthur Levine, who joined the governor for the announcement.
Daniels and Levine announced last December that Indiana would be the first state to implement the innovative new master's program that puts teachers in K-12 classrooms earlier and for more time during heir training to bring theory and practice together. Funding from the Lilly Endowment will support 80 fellows. The governor's goal is to increase the number of fellows to 200 per year. His plan would cost about $5 million annually, an amount he believes can be found within the approximately $300 million spent annually by the Department of Education.
"We need major improvement in the math and science mastery of Hoosier kids, and we need it now. The ways to get started is a new wave of math teachers who really know their math and science teachers who really know their science, trained intensively for a year in the classrooms of experienced educators," Daniels said.
Since the original announcement, Levine's team has been preparing the four universities initially selected for the program-Ball State University, Purdue University, the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis- to deliver the program curriculum. Applications for the first 80 fellowships in the competitive process are being accepted through Dec. 15, and those selected will start their work next year. The first group will start classroom teaching in 2010. All participants agree to teach in high-need Indiana schools for three years.
The fellowship provides stipends of $30,000 for prospective teachers who majored in math or the sciences and combines best practices in teacher education, such as early classroom experience, preparation to teach specific subjects, and ongoing mentoring for the first three classroom years.
"I applaud the governor's actions in taking a step that has not been taken in any other state. He has offered a comprehensive remedy to some of the greatest challenges in teacher education," Levine said. "Just as fellows will be selected based on their excellence, the four schools impressed us with their commitment to find better ways of preparing teachers."
The first group of fellows will concentrate on math or science, but the governor envisions expanding the program to add new subject areas and to include more universities in the program.
Daniels also intends to ask the next Indiana General Assembly to increase the state funding available to school corporations for full day kindergarten (FDK).
The 2007 budget bill signed by Daniels included $33.5 million (a $25 million increase from the previous budget amount of $8.5 million) for full-day kindergarten in the 2007-08 academic year; the amount increases to $58.5 million for the 2008-09 school year. Daniels said he is determined to complete funding for full-day kindergarten within the next four years and will work with the General Assembly to determine the appropriate funding increase in the next state budget.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, full-day kindergarten enrollment increased by 43 percent between the 2006-07 academic year and 2007-08 (32,356 to 46,409). When increased state funding became available.
More information about the program may be found at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Web site at www.woodrow.org.
Earlier this week, Daniels announced other components of his education agenda. They are:
* Hoosier College Promise, a program that would provide two years of free tuition at Ivy Tech community college or the equivalent amount of $6,000 for use in their first two years at another Indiana college or university. Indiana students from families who earn about $60,000 or less annually would be eligible,
* Increase spending in Hoosier classrooms. The governor proposed that school be required to work with Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA) to purchase goods and services unless they can show they can get better prices. Currently, 61 cents of every dollar spent in Indiana schools is for the classroom purposes,
* Offer teachers a $50 credit annually on their income taxes for supplies they have personally purchased for their classrooms, and
* Eek additional protections for teachers by providing legal immunity for teachers who act in good faith to preserve order in their classrooms or other school settings, and work with the next Attorney General to use the office's statutory authority to defend any teacher who becomes the target of unreasonable litigation.