Redistricting, education issues also on docket for General Assembly

There is no dearth of urgent issues facing the 2011 Indiana General Assembly.

Decennial redistricting—a highly political exercise that pits party against party and lawmaker against lawmaker—will take place. New lines will be drawn for congressional, House and Senate districts.

In addition, several education-improvement issues, also highly controversial, are likely to be taken up. Gov. Mitch Daniels wants to:

• Ease the creation of more charter schools.

• Allow some students to attend the school of their choice—even private schools—at state expense.

• Require principals to perform teacher evaluations based largely on improvement in student learning. The evaluations would be used to hire, promote and fire teachers, as well as award merit pay and protect good teachers from seniority-based layoffs.

• Create a way for the state to intervene in chronically failing schools.

• Allow students to graduate a year early and receive a college scholarship equal to the amount the state would have spent on them in their fourth high school year.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said his caucus also is interested in ensuring that state dollars follow students who move to new districts. Districts with declining enrollment now continue to receive funding for students who have left, ostensibly because their overhead does not decline commensurately with incremental enrollment reductions.

With an influx of new lawmakers, the Indiana Legislature is more conservative than it has been in years. That means that social issues, such as abortion, immigration restrictions and a ban on gay marriage, are likely to be raised.•

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