"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Indiana's Corporate Education Reformers Get An Earful from Educators

Sanity breaks out in Indiana. From WISH-TV reporter, Deanna Dewberry:
. . . .University education leaders say a good teacher must have both a mastery of the subject he's teaching and knowledge of children and how they learn.

That's why university education leaders, those who teach teachers how to teach, say they oppose Dr. Tony Bennett's Proposed Rule Revisions for Educator Preparation and Accountability or REPA. Educators argue the proposed rules will erode the quality of preparation of teachers and administrators.

"Anyone can be a principal without any educational requirements," said Deb Lecklider, Associate Dean of Butler's College of Education.

Opponents argue the revisions greatly reduce the hours needed in education courses and classroom experience. The proposal encourages people from other fields, like business leaders, to become school administrators by granting temporary licenses to those with no education training.

"I think we need to consider the business community and what they have done to the United States of America and where we are with regards to that now and ask ourselves the question, 'Do we really want to turn our children over to these people?'," asked Elise Matthews of the Anderson Community School Corporation.

Matthews' comments were met with thunderous applause at Monday's meeting.

Then, a dramatic moment came late morning.

"We are delivering, as a part of public comment to REPA, 2,480 petitions," announced Jill Shedd of the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

At that point, a half dozen educators carried every petition to the front of the room and stacked them on a table in a dramatic show of what they said is public opposition to the proposals, giving Indiana Department of Education leaders plenty of reading to do.
A few weeks ago Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels, one of the surviving specimen of the Bush years to successfully find a new political host, was crowing about finishing the work that Bush's old reading czar, Reid Lyon, had dreamed of for so many years--namely, to blow up America's colleges of education, where prospective teachers of the poor are poisoned with democratic dispositions and ethical commitments and caring attitudes and real teaching skills. Here is part of Daniels's rant:
“When the Professional Licensing Board begins starting next week to redefine what is required to get a teaching license in Indiana, the schools of education are going to have to make some major changes of their own. They are not going to need as many people teaching what to me is mumbo jumbo. We’re going to expect students who want to teach spending much more of their time studying the subject they are going to be teaching in the schools.”
Well, it is too early to tell if Indiana's corporate education reformers will prevail, but on Monday they got verbally hammered by a whole bunch of Indiana educators who have some crucial elements of their anatomies and who are no longer afraid to speak the truth to the know-nothing corporate clowns who want to destroy public schools and the teaching profession. From the Courier-Journal:
By Rick Callahan
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — A proposed revamping of Indiana's teacher licensing standards that would reduce the amount of required courses on how to teach drew sharp criticism Monday from educators, with one teacher calling it “a slap in the face.”

The comments came at the last of three public hearings on the plan as more than 250 people filled a hearing room at the Indiana State Library to comment. The proposals by Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett would require elementary education majors to take no more than 30 college credit hours in pedagogy, or how to teach.

Education schools say the Department of Education moved away from dictating the number of classes taken in recent years and should not get back in the business of regulating a college curriculum.

The department says education schools have piled on too many how-to-teach classes and that limits are needed.

Bennett's proposals also would have prospective educators major in a subject area, such as math or English, and earn a minor in education.

Most of the speakers criticized the plan, telling Indiana Department of Education staff members who oversaw the hearing that it had been inadequately researched and would not improve the quality of the state's teachers.

Opponents delivered a foot-high stack of petitions signed by nearly 2,500 teachers, principals and other educators from around the state. They urged the state to hold more public hearings and allow public school stakeholders a chance to help shape the initiative.

Elise Matthews, an Anderson teacher who has taught for 31 years at Anderson Community School Corp., said the proposals, if approved, would leave people without the necessary expertise to teach.

“I think it's another slap in the face. We need to stop slapping teachers in the face,” Matthews said.

Matt Moll, a 10th-grade English teacher at Franklin Community High School, said the state was moving too quickly and without consulting stakeholders in the education community.

“I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell my students who run down the hall: Slow down. Someone might get hurt,” he said.

More than 120 people signed up to speak at Monday's public hearing, which followed hearings that drew hundreds of critics last week in Scottsburg and Rochester.

Bennett has said that elementary education majors need to take more classes in the subjects they'll teach.

But John Ellis, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, said the proposal was wrongly targeting pedagogy instruction, which he said is crucial.

“You have to know how to teach,” Ellis said. “There are people who are extraordinarily bright, extraordinarily gifted in their areas of specialty but just simply didn't know how to relate to kids.”

Several college educators testified against the proposals, including staff members from Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University and Butler University.

Deb Lecklider, associate dean of Butler's College of Education, said many students who are failing classes in Indiana's private, parochial and public schools are low-income, blacks, Hispanics or those with special needs.

“What we don't need are unprepared teachers in our classrooms with that very group of students that need us the most,” she said.

Bennett has said his proposals could save college students money on tuition-based courses.

Department of Education spokesman Cam Savage said the Indiana Professional Standards Board, which would have to approve any changes in the standards, next meets Nov. 18 but will not be voting at that time on Bennett's proposals.

“The board members have indicated that they would like a couple of meetings to discuss possible changes to the proposals,” he said.


  1. Bottom line: If you're smart, you can teach. And if education is too costly for future teachers, instead of paying them more, reduce their course work.

    Background: Mitch Daniels once said about the Bush tax cuts that it was silly to worry about them because we had surpluses as far as the eye could see.

    I was shocked when that wasn't enough to prevent him from becoming governor. This guy is not a rational big thinker.

  2. It is not too early to tell...the corporate reformers will get their way. This was a done deal. Only state law allowed these folks to speak.