Merit pay fireworks in the next General Assembly?

June 4, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

It’s going to be interesting to see how two national trends—a rising Republican tide and merit pay for teachers—manifest in the General Assembly next year.

Anti-incubency fever along with anger at Democrats over the bank bailout and health reform is fueling a massive swell for Republicans. One of many surveys pointing to the trend was a Gallup poll released this month showing 49 percent of respondents favoring a generic Republican congressional candidate and 43 percent preferring a Democrat. That’s the biggest gap in the 60 years Gallup has asked the question.

In Indiana, the Republican Party has been pushing hard to recover control of the House, and thus own both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion. When Republicans controlled the House in 2005 and 2006, they leased the Indiana Toll Road and launched daylight-saving time among other major pieces of legislation.

Merit pay is rapidly making inroads, too. School districts in New York City and Washington, D.C., recently negotiated contracts that diminish seniority as the sole basis for raises. For just one indication of how much credibility merit pay has gained, imagine this New York Times Magazine story being published even three or four years ago.

In April, state schools chief Tony Bennett demanded that Indiana’s teachers unions support new legislation that would allow merit pay and promotions based in part on student test data—substantially changing a 1973 statute that outlines relationships between schools and teacher unions.

Union members, some of whom remember the days of dirt for pay, nepotists for school board members, and tyrants for administrators could be expected to launch an all-out assault on any attempt to tinker with the statute.

But Bennett is adamant teachers be paid at least in part on how students perform on tests: “They should be compensated for their great work just like other professionals are compensated for their great work.”

Bennett contends a market economy for teachers would force out the worst, reward the best, and make all who stay in the profession improve. He stops short of predicting salary levels of top teachers but adds that he believes districts would bid aggressively enough to elevate average compensation. Chemistry, physics and math teachers might top the pay charts, he says, although all fields tend to run in cycles of abundance and scarcity.

Here’s a related wildcard for the next session: Might Republicans feel emboldened to make Indiana a right-to-work state?

Economic development officials complain that one of the first questions from site consultants is whether the state is right-to-work; when they learn Indiana is not, the phone too often goes “click.”

If lawmakers were to pass right-to-work legislation, they would toss a hand grenade right in the middle of the industrial Midwest. All neighboring states, even Kentucky, also force workers to pay union dues if their co-workers opt for a union. Those states, some of which have discussed going to right-to-work, suddenly would feel even greater pressure to do so. Current right-to-work states are primarily in the West and deep South.

Time for your comments. What do you expect in the way of merit pay legislation? Right-to-work bills? Any thoughts about the pros and cons of either?


  • Right to Work
    Does everyone have a "right to work"? Yes, of course (actually, it's an "opportunity", but as we all know, progressives want everything to be a right granted by Big Government) They also should have a right to work without being strong-armed into submission by a law that forces union membership in certain cases.

    It's time to tell the Goons to take a hike!
  • Is this the battle that needs to be fought?
    How is the new merit pay program working for state employees?

    Across the board pay freezes, layoffs, and a high profile pay increase for Mitch Roob after screwing up FSSA undermine the benefits from promoters.
  • Common Cents
    The elimination of township government and consolidation with county and municipal government makes more sense and saves more money.
  • Right To Work
    Indiana is already a defacto "Right to Work" state. It is time to make it official and use it as a competitive advantage against our surrounding states and the southern states.

    Map of Right To Work States
  • Merit Pay
    Merit Pay = It's who you know, not what you know.

Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. It is nice and all that the developer grew up here and lives here, but do you think a company that builds and rehabs cottage-style homes has the chops to develop $150 Million of office, retail, and residential? I'm guessing they will quickly be over their skis and begging the city for even more help... This project should occur organically and be developed by those that can handle the size and scope of something like this as several other posters have mentioned.

  2. It amazes me how people with apparently zero knowledge of free markets or capitalism feel the need to read and post on a business journal website. Perhaps the Daily Worker would suit your interests better. It's definitely more sympathetic to your pro government theft views. It's too bad the Star is so awful as I'm sure you would find a much better home there.

  3. In other cities, expensive new construction projects are announced by real estate developers. In Carmel, they are announced by the local mayor. I am so, so glad I don't live in Carmel's taxbase--did you see that Carmel, a small Midwest suburb, has $500 million in debt?? That's unreal! The mayor thinks he's playing with Lego sets and Monopoly money here! Let these projects develop organically without government/taxpayer backing! Also, from a design standpoint, the whole town of Carmel looks comical. Grand, French-style buildings and promenades, sitting next to tire yards. Who do you guys think you are? Just my POV as a recent transplant to Indy.

  4. GeorgeP, you mention "necessities". Where in the announcement did it say anything about basic essentials like groceries? None of the plans and "vision" have basic essentials listed and nothing has been built. Traffic WILL be a nightmare. There is no east/west road capacity. GeorgeP, you also post on and your posts have repeatedly been proven wrong. You seem to have a fair amount of inside knowledge. Do you work on the third floor of Carmel City Hal?

  5. I don't know about the commuter buses...but it's a huge joke to see these IndyGo buses with just one or two passengers. Absolutely a disgusting waste of TAXPAYER money. Get some cojones and stop funding them. These (all of them) council members work for you. FIRE THEM!