Duncan Rex, Daniels Rex

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Great news out of Indiana. We have in the past few weeks seen movement in Chicago, Tennessee, and Rhode Island to remove caps on charter schools or to implement new charter school laws. Duncan Rex is pushing the clock forward quickly, leveraging new Race to the Top funds to gain reforms at a pace that was until now impossible.

From the July 1 Indiana News comes great tidings on Indiana’s progress. Because of wise fiscal stewardship by Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana is one of a handful of states with a surplus in this fiscal crisis. And unlike Alaska, Indiana does not have oil and other resources to sustain a glide path on revenues. He is managing his way through it. Note to Governor Patrick – check out what Daniels has been doing.

Daniels says legislators should be proud of making Indiana one of eight states to avoid cuts in education. He says the only states with larger increases than Indiana’s 1.4% over two years are states like Alaska and Texas, with mineral resources that boost their revenues.

Yes, note to Governor Patrick. Charter school friends highlighted this good news in the budget.

Daniels says he’s especially pleased with measures he says can break schools’ ties with what he calls “Stone Age policies.” The budget imposes no limits on charter schools, and allows student performance to be considered as part of teacher evaluations.

And note the role of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:

Daniels says Education Secretary Arne Duncan has already offered telephone congratulations on those two points.

Duncan had warned passing a proposed charter-school cap would essentially disqualify the state from new “Race to the Top” school grants. That money is for one-time expenditures. Daniels says the state might double down on the Wilson Fellowships if it receives those funds, but says he’ll be conferring with state school superintendent Tony Bennett on specifics.

There was a nice wrap-up on the changes that came as part of the 2010 budget last week in the Palladium Item.

Despite the shameless call by a state Democratic Party too cozy with the teachers’ union to cap the level of competitive funding for public charter schools, legislators and Gov. Mitch Daniels held firm on this viable education alternative for children…

The legislation that passed the General Assembly also clears the way for the creation of virtual charter schools, an innovation that understandably worries some educators but holds great promise for families in rural areas…

The so-called virtual schools will require the same kind of intense oversight that exists now with charter schools, but is far less evident with home schooling, which has become a cover and sham where too many students are concerned. Educators concerned about the quality of schooling that students receive should push genuine reform and competition, which means joining Richmond Community Schools Superintendent Allen Bourff in what has been a lonely fight to hold home schooling to similarly tough standards and measurement.

Duncan Rex is here tomorrow. Let’s hope for the same message to Masachusetts’ leaders. Also, note that we are inviting Governor Mitch Daniels to keynote our 2010 Better Government Competition. We hope he accepts. He is doing a great job.