Monday, January 28, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #108– January 28, 2013

Dear Friends,

At 1:30pm today, Rep. Behning posted plans to have hearings on a controversial bill tomorrow morning at 8:30am in the House Education Committee in Room 156C. Every retired superintendent in Indiana would probably like to come to speak against the bill.

House Bill 1357 – School Administrators

House Bill 1357 sponsored by Rep. Huston provides that a superintendent of schools is not required to hold a teacher’s or superintendent’s license.

We are back to the question of whether non-educators should be superintendents.

We have had earlier rounds on this controversy. The REPA 1 (2010) and REPA 2 (2012) licensing changes both addressed allowing non-educators to be superintendents, and vigorous battles ensued. As it stands now after these two Tony Bennett-era controversies, a non-educator can get a license to be superintendent at the request of a local school board who wants to hire that person as a superintendent. The license is good for as long as that local board wishes.

Apparently, that is not good enough for Rep. Huston and others who want to declare in our Indiana Code that superintendents do not need teaching experience or special training to be a superintendent. Most teachers and principals who will be evaluated by that superintendent beg to differ. They would rather be evaluated by someone who has walked in their shoes and knows what it takes to run a classroom or a school.

We are backtracking on our own history here, just as our national leaders did in the late 1990’s when they repealed the 1930’s banking reforms and then saw our banking system nearly collapse in 2008. Licensing for superintendents was created in the first half of the 20th century to solve the problems of cronyism and nepotism in local school leadership. Through licensing, professionally trained administrators could be identified who could pass the standards of non-partisan university programs. Do we really want to throw all that out and let local board choose whoever they favor, regardless of their knowledge of education?

Currently, superintendents take courses in school law, school finance, curriculum, assessment, and the history of education which are vital in day-to-day decisions as well as in developing the perspective for wise long-term policies in the district. To say that a bright person can learn these things on the job without experience in the classroom is lowering standards and reversing the long road Indiana has traveled to having professionally trained school leaders.

Passing this bill would devalue the licenses of all who have earned a superintendent license through conscientious study. Allowing this change is an invitation to a generation of poorly trained leaders and the problems they can create.

House Bill 1427 – Various Education Matters

Three other bills are scheduled for tomorrow’s hearing: House Bill 1364 (Intimidation or torment of a school employee), House Bill 1341 (Standard transcripts and college applications), and House Bill 1427 (Various Education Matters).

House Bill 1427 is a laundry list of programs that Dr. Bennett wanted to delete from Indiana Code in the 2012 session, supported in testimony by Dale Chu. The bill failed on the closing day of the session. Now it is back, still in my estimation proposing at least two controversial deletions:
  1. It would delete the highly popular Indiana Principals Leadership Academy from Indiana law. This training program for principals began during State Superintendent Evans A+ program and ran well for over 20 years until Dr. Bennett, who disliked the program, killed it by having its funding taken away. Now that Dr. Bennett is no longer there, I thought Glenda Ritz might resurrect it since the law is still on the books, but this bill would finish killing it if it is enacted.
  2. It would delete the law calling for a state health curriculum and a state health consultant. Dr. Bennett, who focused narrowly on reading and math tests, didn’t want a state health consultant, but we still have an obesity crisis and many health concerns among our student population. I thought health education might be resurrected by Glenda Ritz, but this bill would take away the health education requirement in Indiana Code.
If you feel strongly about any of these bills in tomorrow morning’s hearing, you should contact members of the House Education Committee:

Chairman: Representative Behning

Republican Members: Representatives Rhoads, Arnold, Burton, Clere, DeVon, Huston, Lucas, and Thompson

Democrat Members: Representatives Vernon Smith, Battles, Errington and VanDenburgh

Thanks for your efforts on behalf of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education in the Statehouse. We are well represented by our lobbyist Joel Hand, but to keep him in place we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education.

Go to for membership and renewal information.

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.

No comments: