Friday, June 1, 2012

Grim REPA Lowers Standards in Indy

Grim REPA Lowers Standards in Indy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 1, 2012  

The sad truth behind “Lowering standards in the name of reform,” written by Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the School of Education at Indiana University (May 27, 2012; The Indianapolis Star) is that standards will only continue to spiral downward.

Living in an era where it is better to be fair than honest; where it is better to coddle than constructively criticize; where it is better to hold a hand than occasionally swat it; where everyone is declared the winner and there are no losers and the score isn’t kept and everyone takes home a trophy because, G-d forbid, anyone’s precious self-esteem gets damaged, standards are tumbling to a level lower than a gopher’s basement.

Television commercials talk about the greatness of America, but then reveal the paltry statistics indicating how far the United States lags behind in reading, math and science to countries with fewer resources and dollars (or their foreign equivalent).

Closer to home in Indiana, Gonzalez adroitly indicates how a potential set of rule changes regarding the preparation and licensing of teachers in the Hoosier State will further water down the requirements, thus lessening the quality of the teachers and principals found in the schools.

Under REPA 2 (Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability), for example, any college graduate with a bachelor’s degree, a minimum 3.0 grade point average and passage of a content exam could qualify to become an “adjunct” teacher – even without the necessary courses that prepare one to teach in a classroom. (On the other hand, having a Master’s in Education, there is nothing to prepare anyone for the inner-city classroom awaiting rookie educators.)

Another weakening of the standards includes eliminating a requirement that special education teachers be licensed in a content area, even though they would be permitted to teach from preschool through high school. This helps no one and turns special education teachers into glorified baby sitters.

Knowledge of a content area is VITAL. A teacher can’t very well teach history unless he or she understands why the Battle of Trenton was a pivotal turning point in the American colonists winning the Revolutionary War. A person who does not have at least an undergraduate degree in the content area he or she wishes to teach, is ill prepared for the classroom.

As a history major while an undergraduate, I was disgusted to learn that in the state of New Jersey, an education major wishing to teach history merely needed two classes in the subject. Two classes do not a proficient teacher of history make.

Yet another lowering of the bar in Indiana is the eliminating of the requirement that principals earn a master’s degree. Additionally, the discussion of national accreditation of educator preparation programs has vanished from the lexicon.

All of the watering down and reduction of requirements for teachers and principals serves to better no one. The continuation of lowering standards will make students in the United States softer, less educated and less prepared to face the competition of the real world that parents and teachers alike are avoiding at the salvation of their precious children’s self-esteem, which sadly, ultimately, will take an unmerciful beating in the future.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

No comments:

Post a Comment