Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't Forget the Petition

While REPA2 is super pressing (see posts below), we are planning on closing the petition in a few days.  Every time a person signs this petition, the members of the Select Commission on Education, Gov. Daniels, and the members of the IDOE state board of education are getting emails in their boxes.  We need to spread this wide and far to let people know that we must keep up momentum for Glenda Ritz.  Read the petition, sign and share!

More on REPA2

Some letters are already being written to the state board members about these changes in teacher licensing.  Read this lovely letter by Donovan Walling:

Dear Board Members,

As a parent, grandparent, and longtime education professional—teacher, administrator, teacher educator, education publisher—I urge you to think carefully about the future education of Indiana children and do not support REPA 2.

REPA 2 devalues professional education and will result in less effective teaching. Imagine qualifying a doctor or a dentist on the basis of any sort of college degree and the passing of a test. Would you really have much confidence in their professional expertise? The myth of education is that “anyone can teach.” But that’s exactly what it is: a myth. Step into a real classroom, a real teacher’s shoes, and try doing what real teachers do day in and day out.

I don’t want my business-degreed neighbor, on the basis of a test, doing a root canal or an appendectomy on me or my children or anyone else’s children. And I don’t want unqualified teachers under REPA 2 muddling around in classrooms for the same reason. Do you?

REPA 2 arises from a philosophy that treats children as commodities and schools as factories where cheap labor rules the day—cheap labor producing cheap goods. Well, children aren’t commodities. They are persons, not products. Therefore, I urge you to treat our children like the valued individuals they are. Do not support REPA 2.

Donovan R. Walling
Bloomington, Indiana

And this is a moving letter from a mother, Shelly Scott-Harmon:

Dear Board Members,

I write to you today for the first time in my life out of fear. I have heard much from a variety of perspectives regarding REPA 2 and have researched it thoroughly myself. I can only conclude that the changes it seeks are based upon an utter lack of concern for the education of our young citizens. This scares me.
I grew up in an impoverished area of Kentucky, a state that always ranked among the lowest in our nation for education. Even so, I went to public schools, and I benefitted from teachers who cared deeply about their commitment to shaping young minds. I learned how to be a good student and a decent citizen. From those public schools, I earned four degrees in higher education and am proud of my accomplishments.

I always knew I wanted my own children to attend public schools and reap the benefits that I did: learning how to learn among a diverse group of children in a setting filled with educators looking for ways to enrich children’s experiences even with limited resources. My husband and I made a conscious decision to move to Indiana and bought our first home based almost solely on school district because we felt these choices would serve our children well. We have been satisfied with our decision thus far.

REPA 2 would change that for us, and that is what scares me. I have one child in his first year in the public school system. He is gifted, yet his teacher is making sure he is challenged every day, meeting him where he is and setting him up to rise even higher. I have another child in his fifth year in a public school. He has special needs and an IEP. It has been a challenge, but his teachers have been willing to collaborate with me on ways to make his journey through public education as close to typical as possible. So far, so good.

I have always felt comfortable sending my kids to public schools. If REPA 2 is accepted, that comfort will be diminished. I have no faith at all that a person who earns an irrelevant degree and passes a test could even handle, let alone effectively teach, either of my children. To think that I could study a bit, take a test, and then apply for a job in the public schools because I have a degree is appalling. I am a parent, a hard worker, a conscientious person, a compassionate soul, and a college instructor, but none of that qualifies me to be a public school teacher.

Please show due respect to our children who need your best judgment and our teachers who go to work in good faith each day and reject REPA 2.

Shelly Scott-Harmon, Ph.D.

Please consider writing yours today!  We need to keep up the pressure.  See my previous post for a link to the state board members' contact information (remember to scroll down a little on that idoe page) and if you are really on a roll, submit your letter to newspapers around the state.  It is through the media and social media that we can get things done and get the word out!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Urgent Action Needed!

State Board of Education Votes on REPAII on December 5th

REPA II is the new set of rules proposed by the state (and set to be passed despite the overwhelming--99%--dissent at the public testimony hearing on June 21 of this year and since) which would change the requirements for teacher licensing.  Under these rules, any person with a bachelor's degree in any subject could take a standardized test, pass it, and become a teacher: no coursework, no classroom experience necessary.  The underlying assumption that all teacher education is worthless and REPA2 will all but obliterate its value in Indiana.

I know that as a parent, I want my teachers to know far more than simply the subjects they are teaching.  Teachers need to know how children learn, what methods work for which learning styles, etc.  The teaching and learning dynamic is not a simple, quantifiable, mechanical process of input-output.  Our children are not passive receptacles for knowledge; they are complex human beings who need the human connection in order to pique their curiosity, inspire their desire to learn, and feel valued as a person.  We have educational research which supports all of this pedagogy.  The desire on the part of "reformers" to do away with this teacher preparation is a desire to impose a business model on all of education.

What kinds of teachers would our children be subjected to if this passes?  How would they know that it isn't appropriate for children to sit still for hours on end and receive passively what knowledge they have to impart? How would they possibly understand the nuances of an emergent reader while listening to a child make up words as he or she reads aloud? What about our most vulnerable special needs children? How could one test possibly make up for the coursework on the brain, on how kids develop, on different methods for different learners? The idea is appalling.

Teachers are professionals.  REPAII would do away with that professional expertise and qualifications.  The view, instead, would be that these workers are a dime-a-dozen, easily replaceable, not highly-qualified. It would be unnecessary to pay them a professional salary and it would save the business owner (state) loads of money. This is par for the course in privatizing public education: making room for profit. 

Please write or call (or both) the State Board of Education members.  Their emails and phone numbers are on this IDOE web page if you scroll down a little.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Under Construction

I am still working on this page, but will be getting it up and running soon.  For now, you can see some of our basic information on but we will soon have this site up and running.

For more information on Indiana education issues, see our dear friends' page at