Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann broke the first Senate tie since 2005 by voting for legislation that would allow school boards to hire anyone as superintendent, regardless of whether that person has the training and experience currently necessary to receive a superintendent's license. This should not become law.
Currently, school superintendents in Indiana are required to hold a license, although it's easy to get an emergency waiver and begin working toward it.
Proponents of this change to relax state law note that state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and even federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan don't have the licenses necessary to serve as local school superintendents.
Those who want to keep the status quo note what happened before licenses were required, when all that was necessary to get the job were the right connections. Keeping it meant hiring someone else to do the actual work.
Under House Bill 1357, local school superintendents would still need to hold a master's degree, but it wouldn't matter what subject the degree was in. Previous administrative or even teaching experience wouldn't be required.
If the requirement for a license is relaxed, we would hope local school boards would hire wisely, but we'd feel safer knowing the safeguard remains in place.
While CEOs in the business world can jump between industries in some cases, schools are different. They have different labor laws, for one thing, and the outcome of their production is not as readily discernible.
School districts are complex mechanisms. In some counties, they are the largest employer.
And these are children, the nation's future, we're talking about. It's vital that school districts have good, well-trained leadership.
A superintendent's license and some teaching experience, at the very least, should be necessary for superintendents.
Don't allow a school board to choose a new superintendent based solely on nepotism, the good ol' boy network or politics. Reject House Bill 1357.