KNOWLEDGE IS ALL THAT MATTERS
A nonsensical majority on the Indiana State Board of Education has demeaned, devalued, and insulted every professional educator in the state of Indiana. Six of the eleven members of the State BOE believe that anyone with a college degree can be a teacher.
These people apparently don’t care that good teachers should be well-trained professionals. To them, subject area knowledge is all that matters.
On May 14th, the State Board of Education in a close 6-5 vote made a fundamental error in lowering the standards teachers for a teaching license in Indiana. Indiana doesn’t need lower standards for teachers.
If the adopted rules are allowed to remain anyone with a college degree could get “on-the-job-training” in a classroom with 25, 30 or even 40 students.
Andrea Neal, one of the members of the board supporting the rule, said,
A very experienced educator served as my mentor…I’m not a licensed teacher. That obviously colors my view on this but some of the best teachers I know are not licensed teachers. I’m not inclined to change my mind.
Note, however, that Ms. Neal is not a public school teacher. She teaches in a private school…a school which can pick and choose its students…a school which can throw out disruptive or “difficult to educate” students…a school in which a “very experienced educator” had the time needed to mentor someone with no knowledge of child development, pedagogy, best practices, curriculum design, or any of the other dozens of skills teachers need to organize and run a public school classroom.
Perhaps if Ms. Neal could guarantee that anyone taking this route to teaching has a “very experienced educator” assigned to help them, and a class where disruptive or difficult students could be removed, then maybe I would agree with her.
Note also that she’s not open to changing her mind.
LIKE LAW STUDENTS?
Board member Gordon Hendry compared the process a new teacher would follow under the career specialist license to the work of young law students, who often deal with clients and complete legal work before passing the state bar exam under supervision from experienced lawyers.
Hendry, himself, wrote legal brief that was submitted to an appellate court as part of an active case when he was a law student.
What Mr. Hendry seems to be missing is that the “young law students” he referred to, and himself, were attending law school at the time that they “completed legal work” or “wrote [a] legal brief.” That’s very different from someone who has never learned anything about teaching coming in and taking over a classroom. In fact, it’s exactly like students who are in teacher preparation programs and studying to be educators working as interns in classrooms under the direction of professional educators!
“On-the-job-training” for a profession doesn’t mean dropping someone with no experience into the real world of an unknown field. It means taking someone who is “in-training” and giving them realtime experience. The students Mr. Hendry referred to were not untrained in the law. They were current law students working under the direction of professionals.
Indiana citizens should write to the members of the BOE and urge that they reverse this rule. But don’t expect Andrea Neal, Gordon Hendry or Daniel Elsener to change their minds.
Those who voted for this unwise set of rules don’t care about students. They don’t understand the importance and difficulty of educating children. They only seem to be interested in opening up the public schools to untrained, low paid, amateurs…which will then, of course, give them the opportunity to bloviate on how bad things are in the public schools.
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.