"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Non-Sense

Recent experiences have led me to hypothesize that participation in politics -- at any level -- damages what we all know as "common sense."

Take for example, yesterday's Indiana State School Board meeting where the new licensing requirements for becoming an educator in Indiana were considered.

The board includes five educators, if you count the current State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett. All of the educators have degrees in education. Some have masters degrees and specialty degrees.

[UPDATE: When I wrote this posting I had been unable to find Tony Bennett's credentials on the Educator License Lookup page of the Department of Education web site. Dr. Bennett goes by his middle name, Anthony, and his credentials are listed under his given name, Charles. I have since found his information and have confirmed that he is, indeed, licensed to teach (and be an administrator) in Indiana. I have edited this blog entry to reflect that information. Thanks to a reader for the correction.]

Three of the educators are currently teachers (two elementary and one middle school) and a fourth is a school superintendent.

Yet, two of those educators, both of the elementary teachers, don't seem to think that the degrees they earned are necessary for future teachers.

Brian Watts (aka "BJ"), who has a bachelors degree and almost 10 years of experience, and Sarah O'Brien, who has a masters degree and a bit over 5 years experience, both voted to accept the new REPA II rules for licensing in Indiana. The new rules call for allowing people who are not trained in education to be given the right to teach in the public schools simply by passing a test. They do need a college degree in the content area in which they teach at least...but training in child development, classroom management, and other apparently unimportant pedagogical topics is not really necessary despite dozens of pleas from all over the state, including one from the newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction-Elect, Glenda Ritz.

The new rules also reduce the teaching experience needed for a person to get a principal's license from 5 years to 2. I don't suppose that Mr. Watts or Mrs. O'Brien would mind having a boss with just a fraction of their experience giving them orders as to how to set up a grading system, or design a classroom management plan.

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.

The other members of the SBOE aren't educators, but perhaps they don't need to be. After all, they all went to school, so that, of course, makes them education experts (see also, Arne Duncan). I wonder though...

...would David N. Shane, CEO of LDI, Ltd in Indianapolis be willing to hire someone without an MBA or CPA to do some of the tasks assigned to those people in his firm? How about a department head who had only worked in the field for two years?

...How about Daniel Elsner, president of Marian University, a Catholic University in Indianapolis. Would he be willing to hire someone with no experience or training to work at his University? I noticed that every member of the permanent faculty in Marian University's School of Education has letters after their names signifying not just college work in their chosen field, but advanced degrees. I wonder how the dean of the School of Education, Dr. Lindan Hill, would feel if he was told to hire someone who had never actually taught.

...Then there's Tony Walker whose Walker Law Group specializes in Church Law, Real Estate Law, Business Planning, Music Law, and Government Relations. I assume he went to law school...and would only hire trained lawyers to work in his practice. Right?

...would Neil Pickett, director of Health Policy Research with Clarian Heath Partners, be fine with untrained people giving health advice or treatment?

It was a lot harder to find information about the other two members of the non-educator faction of the SBOE.

Jim Edwards of Edwards and Associates got a nice write-up from the Spencer County Regional Chamber of Commerce. He, too, seems to have a degree which matches his line of work.

Jo Blacketor of Blacketor Consulting in South Bend made it a point to be heard at yesterday's meeting. Doug Martin had some interesting things to say about her and her professional activities.

Would any of these people allow a person untrained and unqualified in their respective fields to work for them? Would any of them actually allow someone who was untrained and unqualified to teach their own children?

Not if they had any common sense.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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