Would a free house persuade a college graduate or young teacher to agree to live and teach in Indianapolis for four years?

Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett wants to find out.

In a speech to the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis today, Hogsett’s Teach Indy initiative was among some new education ideas he pitched. The idea, he said, is to open up for sale a stable of city-owned homes as an incentive to teachers.

The proposal is still in development, he said, but the plan is to make the offer to new teachers who were in the top quarter of their graduating classes or experienced teachers who can demonstrate a track record of success.

The teachers would have to agree to live in the homes and maintain them in good repair without transferring ownership while they work as a teacher for at least four years.

In return, they could buy the homes at discounted prices, or even get them for free. That will depend on the value of the home. Many of the city-owned properties are in serious disrepair. So teachers who agree to buy them would save on the purchase price but still need to invest in repairs in many cases.

Other ideas Hogsett proposed included:

  • A mayor’s scholars initiative. This program would copy a successful effort in Columbus that provides public and private support for mentoring and other help to try to boost graduation rates.
  • Preschool. Hogsett said he would try to rally city leaders to pressure the state legislature to expand its pilot preschool tuition aid program to serve more poor families.
  • Discipline. He promised to start a discussion that includes schools courts, police and others about how to help make school discipline more effective.
  • Poverty. Hogsett said he would create a working group to find ways to alleviate the impacts of poverty on schools.

In an interview with Chalkbeat last year, Hogsett promised as mayor he would aim to “convene” conversations about education. His opponent, Republican Chuck Brewer, has also called for a push to expand preschool as part of his education plan.