"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unqualified - Unbelievable

This greeted me when I opened my email this morning...

HB 1357

Vic's Statehouse Notes #136
Sadly I must report that today the [Indiana] House passed the bill saying that neither a teacher license nor a superintendent license are needed to be a superintendent in Indiana, House Bill 1357. The final vote was 55-40. Since the House concurred with the Senate version, the bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

The Senate added the requirement that to be a superintendent, the candidate must hold a Masters degree in any subject. The House had passed the first version of the bill 58-40 allowing anyone to be a superintendent, even those with no college degree.

The deconstruction of the education profession in Indiana continues. Principals can now brace for evaluations by superintendents who have never been a principal. University programs set up to train high quality superintendents are likely to die on the vine. Look for excellent superintendents to leave the state to find a climate which respects the special training needed to be a successful superintendent.
So according to this soon-to-be-law a Superintendent of a public school system in Indiana needn't know anything about education.

HB 1002

On their web site, the Indiana House Republicans boast about the new law creating the Indiana Career Council (ICC). The law was passed with bipartisan support because the "skills gap" needed to be addressed.
The purpose of the ICC is to coordinate participants in the state’s educational, job skills and career training systems to address the “skills gap.”

That makes sense. It's important that people are trained for their jobs. It's important that people acquire the skills needed to do a job. Plumbers need to be trained as plumbers...police officers need to be trained as police officers...x-ray technicians need to be trained as x-ray technicians...

The same logic, according to the 55 Indiana legislators who voted for HB 1357, doesn't seem to hold true for school superintendents. Let's take a look at what superintendents need to be able to do...and see if there are any qualifications needed other than a Master's Degree -- in anything.


Stand for Children, a pro-privatization group bent on destroying teachers unions and de-professionalizing teachers, has, on their Washington affiliate's web site a page devoted to a school superintendent's job description. What Does a School Superintendent Do? lists the qualities which make for a great Superintendent [emphasis in original].
  • A great superintendent has a clear vision for the district. He or she works with the school board to set the vision, goals and objectives for the district, and then sees to it that the goals are achieved.
  • A great superintendent is an instructional leader. He or she knows that the most important job of the school district is to make sure students are learning and achieving at high levels. He or she is knowledgeable of the best practices for maximizing student achievement and is supportive of teachers in the district.
  • A great superintendent is an effective communicator. He or she must make a concerted effort to communicate the needs and accomplishments of the district in a variety of formats: through written reports, communication with the media, public meetings and attendance at school events.
  • A great superintendent is a good manager. He or she directs the administrators to accomplish the goals of the district, monitors their progress and evaluates their performance.
  • A great superintendent is a good listener. He or she must listen and take into account differing viewpoints of various constituencies, and then make the best decision.
  • A great superintendent is not afraid to take risks or make a commitment. An average superintendent might set goals that are vague or easily achieved, but a great superintendent would set bold goals that take effort and committment, such as "The majority of third graders will be able to read by the end of the school year," and then put the programs and resources in place to achieve those goals.
  • A great superintendent is flexible. He or she needs to be able to manage the politics of the job - to adapt to new board members, changes in state funding and changes in the school community while not sacrificing the district's vision. A great superintendent takes a collaborative rather than a confrontational approach.
It's a list of all the qualities of a great leader -- vision, communication skills, risk taking, and flexibility. I think we can all agree that good leaders needs these things. Take another look, however, at bullet point number 2...
  • A great superintendent is an instructional leader. He or she knows that the most important job of the school district is to make sure students are learning and achieving at high levels. He or she is knowledgeable of the best practices for maximizing student achievement and is supportive of teachers in the district.
It's clear that a quality superintendent needs to be knowledgeable about instructional practices. Doesn't this imply that superintendents ought to be trained educators? Knowledge of instructional practices...best practices...are not inherited. They are learned through years of actual teaching experience, personal analysis and self-reflection, professional development and personal and professional study.

HB 1357 sponsors P. Eric Turner and Todd Huston, neither of whom has a master's degree, don't agree with that apparently. Turner is the CEO of T-3 Investment Corporation. Presumably he is qualified to hold that post. I also would guess that the people he hires to work for him have the qualifications to do the job he requires of them. The same may not be true for Huston...He has a bachelors degree in Political Science and is a professional politician. No qualifications required.

The point is almost laughably simple for anyone except these 55 legislators. People need to have adequate training in order to do a job well. That includes school superintendents.

Next they'll let anyone with a college degree -- no matter what the subject -- teach in the classroom -- even people with no teaching training...oh, wait...


Stop the Testing Insanity!


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