Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #166 – January 21, 2014

Dear Friends,

At the January 14th Indianapolis hearing on REPA 3, strong opposition to lower standards for teacher and administrator licenses was registered. Fifteen spoke against lower standards while one spoke in favor of one provision.

In contrast to her predecessor, State Superintendent Ritz actually attended and listened to the entire hearing. Dr. Bennett had abandoned the practice of attending major rules hearings starting with the A-F hearing in April 2010. Two State Board members, Cari Wicker and David Freitas, also attended the REPA 3 hearing in Indianapolis. Superintendent Ritz also attended the hearings in South Bend and Evansville.

Among those testifying against major portions of the proposal was Risa Regnier, speaking for Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education.

One must ask: If Superintendent Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education are opposed, who is pushing this stuff?

The answer is that the Governor and some of his State Board members and staff are for it, although other State Board members have said they oppose key sections. On the same day that public school advocates had to fight the winter elements to come to a hearing seeking to simply maintain current teacher licensing standards, the Governor was saying in his State of the State Address that “at the end of the day a good teacher makes all the difference.”

That statement is inconsistent with his efforts to bring us REPA 3. He should quickly have his State Board members withdraw all parts of REPA 3 that lower standards for teachers and administrators.

The Hearing

Scheduled for 9am on Tuesday, January 14th, the hearing was in no way convenient for the many teachers that wanted to speak out against lower licensing standards. Still, 16 speakers showed up to testify. Fifteen of those spoke strongly against rule changes that would-----
  • remove the requirement of a master’s degree to get a principal’s license.
  • remove the requirement of an educational specialist’s degree to get a superintendent’s license.
  • allow individuals who have not qualified for a principal’s license to get a Temporary Building Level administrator license.
  • allow individuals who have a bachelor’s degree and have passed a content test to get a five-year Adjunct Teaching Permit without any student teaching.
  • allow licensed teachers to add music, art or theater arts to their license by passing a content test, without pedagogical courses in those subjects or student teaching.
  • eliminate the 10-year Accomplished Practitioner license in favor of making all licenses renewable for 5 years, removing recognition currently given to our most accomplished teachers.
One social studies teacher who had been a lifelong artist spoke in favor of the REPA 3 plan to allow an art license to current teachers who could pass the art content assessment.

Strong testimony opposing the changes listed above was registered by three college deans, Dean Gonzalez from IU, Dean Shelley from Butler and Dean Moran from the University of Indianapolis; by Jill Shedd, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education; by J.T. Coopman of the superintendent’s association; by two current superintendents, Julie Wood and Michael Jones; by ISTA Treasurer Callie Marksbury; and by other teachers and retired teachers.

In my testimony, which is attached, I objected strongly to allowing teachers without pedagogical training or student teaching to begin teaching with a 5-year Adjunct Teacher Permit and to the lowering of standards for principals and superintendents.

The Monumental Change

When voters elected Glenda Ritz in 2012, they probably thought that she and the IDOE staff would become the ones to listen to rules hearing and then to shape the final rules during the promulgation process, as State Superintendents have done for the 37 years I have been watching the making of rules in Indiana. The huge change that was obvious at the REPA 3 hearing is that Superintendent Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education have become supplicants requesting changes by the State Board, just like me and the others testifying. Risa Regnier, Assistant Superintendent who oversees licensing, spoke for the IDOE. She said that IDOE opposes all six points bulleted above, along with supporting some non-controversial changes.

Who, then, has the real power to confirm or withdraw these lower licensing standards?

State Board staff leaders Ann Davis and Michelle McKeown posted and ran the hearing and appear to be in charge of what happens to the rule, acting on behalf of the Governor and the State Board. They will read the comments and make recommendations to the State Board. They invited emails directly to them as well as to the online comment site: www.in.gov/sboe/REPAIIIcomment

Let them know how you feel about lowering standards for licenses! They are collecting comments through January 31st.

Then let the Governor know how you feel as well. He could end these bad ideas quickly by telling his staff to withdraw the proposals for lower standards. It seems inconceivable that he would want to go forward carrying the banner for lower licensing standards for teachers and administrators. It didn’t work well for Dr. Bennett, and it surely won’t work well for Governor Pence, especially when, to quote the Governor again, “a good teacher makes all the difference.”

Now we know for sure: The Governor and his new education staff are accountable for whether or not Indiana lowers its standards for teachers and administrators.

Thank you for your advocacy for highly trained teachers and for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. The 2014 session of the General Assembly has begun. Joel Hand will again serve as ICPE lobbyist for the session. We need your membership to help support his work. Many have renewed their memberships this fall, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew by going to our website.

As the session begins, ICPE has about half of what we will need to fund our lobbying efforts, a vast improvement over previous sessions in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when we started from zero each session. With your membership support, we have raised the money each session, and we must do so again. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to www.icpe2011.com for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.
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