Ask Indiana business men and women what the state needs to do better and sooner (often first on the list) rather than later the topic will be: improve the education of our young people. Two developments Friday were good news:
- Current State Sen. Teresa Lubbers was unanimously chosen this morning as the next Commissioner of Higher Education. She will assume that role once the legislative special session ends. Lubbers was one of the first members of the General Assembly I had a chance to interview as she was awarded the Chamber’s Government Leader of the Year award in 1998. In working on that story, and in dealing with her on subsequent legislative topics and education initiatives, Lubbers has always been straightforward and simply dedicated to getting the job done. She has endured staunch opposition at times in the K-12 arena, but I’m confident she will partner with other innovative thinkers at the higher ed level to move Indiana forward.
- Later in the morning, the first class of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows was introduced in the governor’s office. The Fellows (59 of them will be attending Purdue, IUPUI and UIndy; Ball State will also be part of the program in future years) receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a master’s program. In exchange, they commit to three years of teaching in high-need schools in both urban and rural communities. This first class focuses on the hard-to-find math and science teachers with nearly all holding a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) degree.
In addition to putting highly qualified and talented professionals (both recent grads and those with years of workplace experience) in the classroom, one of the best things about this effort is that Indiana is first in the country for this Wilson fellowship program. Both Gov. Mitch Daniels and Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine used the words "Rhodes Scholars of teaching" in their remarks.
In Indianapolis, public television station WFYI will be producing a documentary, following the Fellows through the learning process and into the classroom. We look forward to the story as it unfolds — and the benefits for Indiana students for years to come.