Gov. Mike Pence: Expanded school choice helps traditional public schools, too

Gov. Pence
Gov. Pence

Speaking to school choice die-hards Monday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence took aim at a common criticism of expanded learning options and encouraged supporters to make teachers part of their case.

“Let’s be very clear in this debate … iron sharpens iron,” Pence told several hundred people gathered at the fourth annual American Federation for Children summit in Washington D.C. “When you empower parents to choose the public, the charter, the private school of their choice, all of education gets better because of competition.”

Pence, one of several keynote speakers for the two-day event, reeled off a suite of ed stats from Indiana. Since the introduction of that state’s voucher program two years ago, test scores and grad rates have continued to rise while achievement gaps have continued to narrow, he said. “The progress we’ve made recently doesn’t appear to be slowing down” because of more choice, he said.

Pence signed an expansion of the voucher program into law earlier this month. He told the AFC audience he’s going to continue to push for more school choice and other reforms because, in part, “I believe in Indiana’s teachers.”

He noted his wife is a teacher, and said some of their best friends are public and private school teachers.

“America has some of the best teachers in the world. Some of the most courageous, decent, caring, selfless men and women in our society are in classrooms today. I submit to you that as we move forward in this debate, we need to speak (about) teachers,” he said. “We believe in giving parents choices because we want them to be able to choose the best school for their children, knowing the teachers will rise to the challenge, as they’ve certainly done in Indiana.”

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at