The president of the Indiana State Teachers Association is calling on the Indiana State Board of Education to reject a measure allowing more college graduates, with some professional experience, to teach without a license. Teresa Meredith says the proposal is “reckless, scary and disrespectful” to educators and students.

May 22, 2014

Statement From Indiana State Teachers Association Teresa Meredith

I am Teresa Meredith, president of Indiana State Teachers Association, also a teacher and parent. Each of the individuals in front of you represents a constituency with concerns about the direction the state of Indiana is taking in teacher preparation or lack of preparation.

Those joining me today are:

-State Rep Vernon Smith, House District 14 and Professor and Coordinator of Educational Leadership Program at IU-Northwest

-Dr. Laurie Mullen, Associate Dean of Teacher Education, Ball State University representing the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

-Sharon Wise, President Indiana PTA

-Dr. J.T. Coopman, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents

-Bianka Teeters, President of the Indiana Student Education Association

-Vic Smith, President of the Board of Directors of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education

-Dr. Linda Houser, Assistant Dean for Program Evaluation and Assessment, IUPUI, Association of Teacher Educators

-Dr. Charles Little, Executive Director Indiana Urban Schools Association

We have come together out of grave concern about the future of teacher quality.

We respectfully ask that the Indiana State Board of Education reconsider its action on May 14 regarding adjunct permit/career specialist and strike it from REPA 3 (rules for educator preparation and accountability) before the final vote. Emergency permit, workplace specialist and other avenues allow someone in another career the opportunity to join the teaching ranks. There is no evidence that suggests new paths are needed at this time.

For a true professional educator, there is training-classroom experiences with students, licensed professionals working with the pre-service teacher, to model appropriate interaction and instructional practices. The pre-service teacher learns about child development, child psychology, alternative teaching methods-and more, all with the purpose of understanding how children learn and react at difference developmental stages of learning. This is essential to being able to manage a classroom of students.

The Indiana State Board of Education is considering adjunct permit/career specialist permit-whatever the Board chooses to call it-but the bottom line is this-it is a pathway for someone without proper training to be placed in front of a classroom of students without ever having had any experience or observation time with real professional educators. This is reckless, scary, and disrespectful to professional educators and all of the students they serve. Like all professions, teaching is both art and science-pedagogy AND content and this proposed rule clearly ignores the 'how'-the pedagogy.

When it is time for medical check-ups for my children, I am confident that the person administering their vaccinations has had the necessary preparation and practice under close supervision prior to touching my children. When my children board their school bus each morning, I am certain that their bus driver didn't simply get a good GPA and pass a content test, but that their driver also had to practice and pass an actual driving exam-not just a written one-and my children's driver even had supervision for a period of time to make sure of the route and to be monitored for safe driving practices. When my children arrive at school I am confident that they are in classrooms led by well-trained professional educators.

But how about this? I like watching Tameka Catchings play basketball for the Indiana Fever. I have watched basketball since I was a child. I have witnessed hundreds of basketball games of my own children, of college teams and of WNBA and NBA players. I like it. And I am sure I could pass a test on the sport. Plus I had a good GPA in college. So which of the WNBA teams would like to draft ME? “What?” you say. I don't have the skills? I need to practice? You say I am making light of the work it takes to be a pro athlete? Maybe I can be a doctor, a chef, a mechanic or a pilot with my good GPA and passing a written test. I don't think so. That just doesn't make sense. So why does it seem some believe this set of credentials might be good for Indiana's students?

In the current existing rules, there are pathways for individuals seeking to enter the teaching profession who might have a different degree. There is the emergency permit pathway which does allow for a short-term permit that requires its holder to seek some training within a specified amount of time. There are transition-to-teach programs across the state. Both require commitment and training.

Not everyone can teach. Not everyone can do what teachers do. Being smart enough to pass a test is not enough. It takes deliberate, purposeful, skilled work. It takes preparation and practice under careful watch. It takes an understanding of HOW children learn. Based on my view from 20 plus years of teaching experience, if the 'HOW' is ignored, THAT is wrong, and our children suffer.

Inspiring students? It isn't easy. We may at times make it LOOK easy, but we work very hard to make that the case.

Our objection here today as educators and parents is NOT that we wish to keep anyone out of the profession who wishes to teach. We simply want the best and brightest who are well prepared in both content and pedagogy-that is-subject matter and classroom management-leading instruction in Indiana's classrooms. We call on the state of Indiana to support only high quality paths to teacher certification. As a teacher and as a parent, I believe Indiana's children deserve no less.

Source: Indiana State Teachers Association

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