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Indiana House Approves Freedom to Teach Act

Judy Baxter

A bill combining several of Governor Pence‘s education initiatives has passed the House overwhelmingly and is headed for the Senate.

The Freedom to Teach Act offers more merit pay for teachers, while giving local school boards more discretion in deciding how those bonuses are awarded.

It also creates a separate salary incentive to lure top teachers to low-income or low-performing school districts.

House Education Chairman Robert Behning says similar programs have been successful in urban districts in North Carolina, Tennessee and New York.

"This program has provided significant, sustainable salary increases for teachers and provided significant gains in student performance by ensuring that the best teachers remain in front of the class," says Behning.

The bill also offers traditional public schools additional regulatory flexibility similar to the freedom enjoyed by charter schools, including the ability to forgo collective bargaining with teachers.

Schools would still have to comply with teacher evaluation and school accountability standards.

Democrats Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis and Clyde Kersey of Terre Haute were the only legislators to vote no.

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