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January 25, 2014

READERS' FORUM: Jan. 26, 2014

Don’t lower licensing standards for educators

I have been an educator in the public schools in three states for 17 years and at the university level in Indiana for 17 years. I have supervised over 200 student teachers at the elementary school level in Indiana. I give you my credentials to establish some credibility in the following matter.

I ask our Indiana lawmakers to consider very, very carefully the possible ramifications of lowering teacher, school principal and school superintendent licensure standards in the proposed legislation known as REPA 3.

Think about this: Would you want the law firm representing you in a wrongful death suit to give your case to the law firm’s newest administrative assistant? No, of course not. You would want a lawyer who had graduated from a good law school and passed the bar exam with a high score. Even better, you would want a lawyer with experience.

If this is true for you, why would you want the children of Indiana to be taught by someone who has never demonstrated teaching skill and knowledge? Why would you give someone a permanently renewable “adjunct permit” to teach without having taken any education courses? It makes more sense for prospective superintendents, principals and teachers to prove that they have attained the necessary knowledge and skill sets through accredited teacher education programs.

I ask our legislators to not think of education as a business. I realize that schools do not generate income and that taxpayers must fund our schools. But remember, our students are not “customers” and teachers are not “associates.” Students and teachers are humans with all the attributes and challenges of diversity. Therefore, one “size” does not fit all. Only the best trained and most qualified professionals should be in charge of Indiana’s classrooms, schools and school districts.

I encourage Indiana’s hard-working lawmakers to be responsive to public opinion on this matter and to pass into law those policies that provide the best, not second best, for our public school children.

— Deborah Flurkey, Instructor

Bayh College of Education Elementary, Early & Special Education

Indiana State University

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