To be a teacher in Indiana…
Last month the no-nothings on the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) decided — in the face of substantial public objection — to allow anyone with a college degree to teach the subject of their degree area in the public schools of Indiana…no education training necessary. The idea that you have to know your subject to teach apparently trumped the idea that you have to know how to teach.
This morning I read where that’s been altered a bit. They’re going to add the “pedagogy requirement” so that, at least some training is required to keep a teaching job. At first I thought that was a good idea…until I saw the details.
…after a last-minute addendum to a package of changes to the state’s teacher licensing rules, known as “REPA II,” non-education majors will need to receive training on teaching strategies in order to keep a teaching job…
…the final change — which board member Neil Pickett proposed just minutes before a final vote on the REPA II package — adds a requirement that teachers must complete a “pedagogy requirement” if they wish to keep their jobs.
This is, in my opinion, not as good as an education degree, but at least it’s something, right? Wrong!
According to the final language, if a permit-holder wants to renew his license in five years, he’ll need to receive training…
The Pedagogical Requirement
Five years? The rules state that if you have a college degree in a subject area you can teach for five years in Indiana without learning anything about educating children. This is a Teach for America program only without even the minimal five weeks of training which TFA offers.
About a third of beginning teachers quit before their first three years are over. Nearly half are gone within five years. The numbers are even lower for teachers in low income schools. Nearly 85% of Teach for America teachers are gone after five years.
Do the members of the SBOE have any idea what it’s like to be a teacher? A few of them — the two who voted against the REPA II rules last December — are professional educators. Many of those who spoke against the plan at the meeting in December and were ignored by 9 of the SBOE members were educators. Apparently, though, even the educators among the 9, including outgoing State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, don’t believe that teachers in Indiana schools need to be prepared to teach…they just need the right content knowledge.
What is the “pedagogical requirement”?
According to the final language, if a permit-holder wants to renew his license in five years, he’ll need to receive training in these areas:
- “Literacy for adolescents in content areas and across the curriculum based on scientifically-based reading research”
- “Differentiation of instruction and instructional methods, including methods for students with exceptional needs” (Differentiation is basically edu-speak for teaching a bunch of students of differing ability levels at once.)
- “Classroom and behavioral management, including legal rights and responsibilities of teacher and student”
- “Curriculum development, lesson planning, assessment strategies and using data to inform instruction”
- “Psychology of child development, including the development of exceptional needs students”
- “Competence in multicultural awareness and technology as an aid to education”
A college graduate in Math, for example, can walk into a Freshman Algebra class and not know anything about differentiated instruction. An English or Journalism major can teach 7th grade English without any preparation, practice teaching or observation of classroom and behavioral management techniques. No lesson planning experience…no understanding of child development…no experience within classrooms…no guidance from a master teacher…nothing. The SBOE wants you to be able to teach in the public schools of Indiana with no understanding of education — other than the content — at all — for five years.
I’ll ask the questions I asked in December:
Would any of these people allow a person untrained and unqualified in their respective fields work for them? Would any of them actually allow someone who was untrained and unqualified teach their own children?
Tony Bennett was in the forefront of the movement to get rid of “bad teachers.” Collective bargaining is all but gone in Indiana. Evaluation by student test scores is all the rage and is the rule in Indiana. Do Bennett and the rest of the SBOE who voted for REPA II actually believe that lowering the standards for becoming a teacher will improve the quality of learning in Indiana schools?
Is this just ignorance or are they doing everything they can to fail the public schools in Indiana and make room for more for-profit schools to move in? Do they hate children? Do they hate professional teachers? Is Bennett still blaming ISTA for his loss and trying to get even? What are they thinking?
After Five Years
Let’s suppose that someone survives four or five years as a teacher without any preparation. Where will they be required to get their training?
Where will teachers receive this training? They could receive it in the school itself, “through school-based professional development,” through a college, or a “professional education organization.”
So…you can spend five years teaching children in our public schools before you need to learn to teach…and then you can learn to teach by going to building level inservice activities…or, you can spend the money going to an accredited education school (like you should have done in the first place), or you can get your training from some other “professional education organization” — like Pearson, perhaps? (More on Pearson HERE.)
And guess who is going to decide what qualifies as a “professional education organization?”
The SBOE now has the authority for approving teacher education programs instead of the Department of Education. They are also responsible for approving the new licensure assessments which will give the not-qualified-but-ready-to-take-the-test people their “adjunct” licenses. Looking at the rest of the list of SBOE members, I wonder why they think they’re qualified for that task.
Sometimes the insanity is too much for me. I’m going to go read a book. Take a look at the following cartoon…and substitute educator for engineer (click for a larger size).