GUEST COMMENTARY: Indiana shouldn't lower teacher licensing standards

2014-06-08T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Indiana shouldn't lower teacher licensing standardsBy the Northwest Indiana Public School Study Council nwitimes.com

Educating today’s children is one of life’s most important tasks.

Now legislators are considering radical laws that will change the future of education in Indiana. In early May the State Board of Education approved the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability, or REPA 3.

REPA 3 will lower teacher licensing standards to allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree; 6,000 hours of professional experience in a related field; a 3.0 GPA; and a passing score on a content test, to be hired as a teacher in a middle or high school classroom.

If passed, Indiana will allow teachers who are untrained in pedagogy to attempt to teach their content while learning how to do it on the job! They must also begin a teacher training program within the first month of starting a teaching job. That is roughly the equivalent of allowing a science major to take the state board exam for dentistry and gain experience while drilling your children’s teeth. Fine arts teachers have only to pass a test in order to get a license. They need never have taught band, painted a picture, played an instrument or even strolled through the Art Institute of Chicago.

This proposal also includes relaxing the requirements for all administrative licenses. REPA 3 will allow anyone with a master’s degree and two years of teaching experience to become the superintendent of a school system. Currently a superintendent must complete an arduous university program in educational administration to earn a superintendent’s license. REPA 3 does not specify in what area the master's must be earned.

So let’s consider another example: a person without formal teacher training may take a test, teach for two years, earn a master’s degree in any field, and then be qualified to lead a multimillion-dollar school district! Imagine a principal or teacher having a conversation about curriculum, instruction, or evaluation with a superintendent who has little to no understanding of educational best practice.

This potential scenario brings back memories of the happily forgotten era of school trustees.

REPA 3 devalues education and is a slap in the face of every highly qualified teacher and administrator who has sacrificed and labored to become a true professional educator.

REPA II allows adequate avenues for adjunct teachers to enter middle and high school classrooms. The REPA 3 plan to expedite licensing is unnecessary as mentioned earlier since schools already have the ability to attain an emergency permit when the situation warrants such a need.

The formal vote for REPA 3 has not yet occured. We urgently implore the State Board of Education to vote no to REPA 3 as it is written.

The opinions are of the Northwest Indiana Public School Study Council.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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