Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #164 – January 8, 2014

Dear Friends,

Governor Pence and his education staff have pushed forward new rules to lower standards for getting teacher and administrator licenses. Advocates for maintaining high standards to qualify for licenses need to make their objections known in hearings to be held next week—Jan. 13th in South Bend, Jan. 14th in Indianapolis, and Jan. 16th in Evansville. The Governor has picked the worst time of winter to hold these hearings, but it is vital that a strong showing of opposition to reviving Dr. Bennett’s plan to lower standards be registered at the hearings.

Details on the Hearings

In papers filed on December 18th by the Governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation, the three hearings will be as follows:

Jan. 13, 2014 – 10:00am - South Bend - St. Joseph County Public Library, Main Branch, Colfax Auditorium, 304 South Main Street, South Bend, Indiana

Jan. 14, 2014 – 9:00am – Indianapolis – Indiana Government Center South, 402 West Washington St., Conference Center Room A, Indianapolis, IN

Jan. 16, 2014 – 9:30am – Evansville – Evansville Public Library System, McCullough Branch, Meeting Room, 5115 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN

For those who can’t attend a hearing but want to be heard on this issue, written comments may be submitted at:

To get a full copy of REPA 3, go to the IDOE website to the Office of Educator Licensing and Development and look for the box announcing the hearings and the availability of the 82-page REPA 3 document.

The box contents is below:
Here is the link to the notice of the public hearings in the Indiana Register:

The document containing the proposed rule changes is found here:

An online public comment site is open now at the following link:
Background to REPA 3

In 2010, after several controversial meetings on “Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability” (REPA), Dr. Bennett got his first set of licensing changes passed by the State Board. That didn’t satisfy him, and he brought a second set of licensing changes to lower standards in 2012, which became known as REPA 2.

He allowed only one public hearing on REPA 2 on June 21, 2012. The Riley Room at IDOE was full that day and every speaker was opposed to the rule, 30 in all. Teacher education leaders from all over Indiana dubbed the proposals unnecessary and harmful to the effort to put well-trained teachers in every classroom. One of the speakers opposing REPA 2 that day was Dr. Brad Oliver, teacher educator at Indiana Wesleyan, who is now a member of the State Board.

After the June hearing, Dr. Bennett let State Board action on REPA 2 sit until December, 2012, the first meeting after his reelection defeat. I have always assumed that he didn’t want a controversial debate over lowering standards for teachers to be a prominent issue during the election campaign. As soon as the election was over, he brought the issue back during his lame duck authority. During the December 2012 board meeting, there was so much debate about the final wording among the State Board members that it had to be reworked and brought back to the January 2, 2013 meeting, just days before the end of his term and the inauguration of State Superintendent Ritz. A confusing passage about pedagogical training for the otherwise untrained adjunct teacher licensee was approved.

When the Attorney General’s office reviewed what the State Board had changed in the published rules, they halted implementation of the rules based on procedural problems in the rule-making process. The Attorney General’s ruling meant clarifications had to be drafted and additional public hearings had to be scheduled. State Board member Tony Walker, apparently eager to implement REPA 2, expressed great frustration about the delay during one State Board meeting. Teacher educators, in contrast, were pleased by the Attorney General’s ruling and hoped it would mean the end of REPA 2.

Now, a year later, the Governor’s Center for Education and Career Innovation Attorney Michelle McKeown resubmitted the rules in the Indiana Register on December 18th and scheduled three public hearings for January. This version is now being called REPA 3.

Every Hoosier knows that January is the best month to get the public to come out for public hearings, especially during a winter of record setting bad weather.

What Problems in REPA 3 Should Concern Public School Advocates?

There are many problems in the 82 pages of REPA 3, and I will leave many technical problems to teacher education leaders. I will focus on four proposals that I am convinced will lower standards and hurt public education.

Problem #1 – Lower standards for a teaching license

Graduates with a only a bachelor’s degree can already get temporary licenses for shortage areas, but now REPA 3 proposes to let any graduate with a bachelor’s degree get a five year renewable license if they have passed the content area licensure assessment for their teaching area. The proposed rule (16-4-6) would give an adjunct teacher permit to anyone who “has a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in a content area related to that which the applicant intends to teach.”

Does that wording mean an overall 3.0 or does it mean a 3.0 only in the content area courses related to the teaching assignment? That is only one of many questions that need clarification.

This proposal defames the term “adjunct”, a university term which currently means “part-time” or “paid by the course”, but does not mean undertrained or without credentials. Indeed, adjunct professors at the university level often have outstanding credentials.

The bigger problem is the assumption that pedagogical training is a trivial part of becoming a teacher. Why would anyone bother to look into a School of Education teacher training program, especially a rigorous one, if they know they can teach with any bachelor’s degree after passing a content area test? Has the Governor concluded that to know something is to be able to teach it to students? We know better.

The Indiana University School of Education was founded in 1908 and Ball State University began as a teachers college in 1918. We now have 100 years of experience in Indiana in training effective teachers, and the Governor is proposing rules that would throw all of that out and let anyone teach who has a bachelor’s degree. That doesn’t make sense.

Even Dr. Bennett’s State Board couldn’t go along with that radical departure from best practice in the December 2012 meeting referred to above. State Board member Neil Pickett made a motion to add a pedagogical component to the adjunct teacher permit. Some later called it “pedagogical light.” That led to the confusion that delayed the proposal, but now it is back with new wording.

The new wording in 511 IAC 16-4-6 (c) is as follows:
     (c) The adjunct teacher permit is renewable after five (5) years upon completion of all of the following:
(1) The applicant was employed in the P-12 schools for at least three (3) of the five (5) years the permit was valid.
(2) The applicant received a rating of effective or highly effective in three (3) of the five (5) years of the validity of the permit based on an evaluation that meets the components outline in IC 20-28-11.5.
(3) The applicant completed the pedagogy component under subsection (d) during the validity of the first five (5) year permit.
Please note that adjunct permit teachers can teach for five full years even if they are not rated effective or highly effective. While other parts of REPA require 10 weeks of student teaching instead of 9, the “Adjunct Teacher Permit” allows teachers to teach for five years who have had no student teaching. This is a bad idea which negates all that we have learned about preparing teachers in the past century.

Problem #2 – No provision is made for state approval of the providers of the pedagogical component.

The rule suggests that in the delivery of the pedagogical component for untrained teachers, anything goes. After a year of work, the pedagogical component now reads as follows, in 511 IAC 16-4-6:
     (d) An adjunct teacher pedagogy component must be completed and must address all of the following areas:
(1) Literacy for adolescents in content areas and across the curriculum based on scientifically-based reading research.
(2) Differentiation of instruction and instructional methods, including methods for students with exceptional needs.
(3) Classroom and behavioral management, including legal rights and responsibilities of teacher and student.
(4) Curriculum development, lesson planning, assessment strategies, and using data to inform instruction.
(5) Psychology of child development, including the development of exceptional needs students.
(6) Competence in multicultural awareness and technology as an aid to education.

     (e) The adjunct teacher pedagogy component may be delivered through school-based professional development, college or university based course work or professional development, an entity that is not an institution of higher education, or a professional education organization. Completion of the pedagogy component must be verified by the provider.
While the six areas are a worthy list, the providers for the pedagogy component named in (e) above are not supervised or approved by IDOE or by the State Board. For-profit groups could qualify as providers with no supervision by anyone to monitor quality. This paragraph would swing the door open to private for-profit pedagogical training of uncertified quality, a result that stands in stark contrast to university programs that must meet high standards of accreditation. This pedagogical component must be made accountable to someone. The fact that it is not accountable is more reason to deep-six the whole flawed concept of adjunct licenses.

Problem #3 – Lower standards for a principal license

REPA 3 removes the requirement that candidates earn a Master’s Degree to get a principal license. This degrades the licensing of all current principals who found the commitment to earn a Master’s degree, and guarantees that the next generation of school principals will have less training than the current generation.

Also, a new provision allows the appointment of “Temporary Building Level Administrators” at the request of a local school board. Under great pressure from Governor Daniels, a license for a “Temporary Superintendent” was allowed in rules passed in 2010 (REPA 1). That plan did not go so far as allowing for temporary principals on the same basis, but REPA 3 does go that far. This concept reverses the reforms of the early 20th century when cronyism and nepotism influenced the appointment of administrators in many local communities. The reform of that era was to have administrative candidates show that they were qualified in the eyes of impartial licensing agents, the university administrator programs. This provision throws the door open again to local cronyism. This is the kind of local control that no one is asking for. This provision cheapens the credentials of all administrators who have worked hard to pass the existing credential requirements and are now told they weren’t really necessary.

Problem #4 - Lower standards for a superintendent license

Governor Pence has shown no respect to superintendents. He signed a bill in 2013 saying superintendents did not need a teacher license or a superintendent license. He failed to appoint a superintendent to the State Board of Education, the first time since the State Board was established in 1984 that a superintendent has not been a member. Now, REPA 3 says that to get a superintendent license, an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree is no longer required. This degrades the credentials of all current superintendents who earned an Ed.S. and contributes to the notion supported by the Governor’s actions that anyone can be a superintendent without specific training. This will clearly lower the standards for the next generation of superintendents.

What Can You Do About This?

In summary, the REPA 3 rules lower standards for teaching licenses, for principal licenses and for superintendent licenses in ways that have not been supported in previous public hearings. How long can the State Board keep moving in directions opposed by the majority of Indiana education stakeholders?

Here are your options if you would like to speak up on this issue:
1. Attend one of the public hearings next week and sign up to speak. Anyone who signs in before the start time has the right to speak for at least 3 minutes. Sometimes they allow 5 minutes. Say what is on your mind, asking for changes in these or other sections of REPA 3. It is important that the State Board members hear from parents, community leaders and educators representing many geographic areas of Indiana.

2. Emails or call members of the State Board of Education to express your opposition. A majority of the State Board (6 of 11) are new since Dr. Bennett pushed REPA 2 through in January 2013. One new member, Dr. Oliver, opposed REPA 2 in public hearings. It’s not at all clear that all the State Board members are with Governor Pence in pushing the lower standards of REPA 3. Let them know how you feel.

3. Complain loudly to your State Senators and State Representative about what the Governor and the State Board have proposed in REPA 3. They can’t control the State Board on this vote, but when the State Board asks for the budget to pay for additional staff, members of the General Assembly will have been informed by you of the problems in this proposal and the overreach of authority by the State Board.

4. Inform the public through the media where possible. Let the public know that the new direction that voters asked for in the 2012 election is being ignored by the Governor and that standards for teachers and principals in Indiana classrooms are being lowered.
It is an open question whether grassroots citizens, parents and educators have any passion left to speak out on the issue of lowering standards for teachers and administrators.

I hope so.

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 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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