Indiana is on the verge of enacting major education reform legislation that will establish a new teacher evaluation system, will be tied to changes in teacher tenure, eliminate “Last in First Out (LIFO),” link teacher compensation to performance measures, and limit some aspects of what can be collectively bargained. Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan (D – Indianapolis) is the co-sponsor of the teacher evaluation bill as well as a companion bill containing the collective bargaining provisions (she is also the co-author of a bill to expand charter schools in Indiana). As a founding member of DFER-Indiana, she has faced incredible hostility from her Democrat colleagues in the House, along with being chastised by the unions especially for her votes and leadership on changing collective bargaining practices. In this post she shares some of her thoughts and beliefs on why she refuses to lose her focus on education reform, and why her commitment to those reforms does not make her anti-union:
For too many Democrats, being pro-labor has been an all or nothing proposition. As a pro-labor Democrat myself, I’ve been criticized when I mention the need for changes and limits to collective bargaining. Seeking change from unions, and teachers’ unions in particular, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them. Nothing could be further from the truth. I firmly believe unions must step up to the plate and meet the public demand for changes or they run the risk of being left out of the process or worse yet, losing the right to collectively bargain at all. Our teachers need this powerful collective voice and unions must rise to meet the demand for change, one prescribed by many of their members.