State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) has called out Gov. Mitch Daniels for hyposcrisy after the emerging presidential candidate embraced Republican legislation that would allow non-licensed, non-trained educators in the classrooms. In 2009, Daniels vetoed a bill relaxing requirements for teachers who took the Praxis I test, because it “lowered standards” for teachers, Smith said in a news release.
“This is a dramatic turnaround and, for some reason, Gov. Daniels does not think anyone will notice the hypocrisy of his veto claims two years ago in contrast to his active support of initiatives that will put unqualified people into schools, people who will be called teachers and superintendents. The governor vetoed the bill I authored two years ago that would have established a testing waiver for teachers who scored slightly under the PRAXIS examination cutoff score.
"Perhaps it has more to do with greater profits for the private companies that run the ‘public’ charter schools by allowing the companies to hire unlicensed teachers at the educational expense of the students." - State Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary)“Now Gov. Daniels is the cheerleader for non-educators teaching in charter schools and allowing superintendents not to be licensed. If the governor does not want ‘lowered standards’ for teachers, then why is he willing to allow it for charter schools? Perhaps it has more to do with greater profits for the private companies that run the ‘public’ charter schools by allowing the companies to hire unlicensed teachers at the educational expense of the students.
“While Gov. Daniels is not the author of these bills, the Republican legislators appear to being carrying out his will. If that is not the case, then he needs to speak out publicly against these radical, legislative proposals.”
Smith’s 2008 bill, House Enrolled Act 1210 (HEA 1210), passed the Indiana House and Senate. In the news release, he said it would have made the certification process more flexible for teachers who scored no less than three points under the qualifying score on the Praxis I examination, had taken the test at least twice, and who had demonstrated their proficiency as educators.
“Dr. Smith said HEA 1210 would have helped alleviate a shortage of teachers at that time, especially in urban schools,” the release said.
In his veto message, Daniels wrote,
“A major challenge facing our state is to steadily improve teacher quality for Hoosier students, not to weaken it by allowing less-qualified candidates to enter the profession.”
“We must continue to think and act creatively to attract qualified teachers to our toughest schools, where the need for their talents are greatest, rather than lowering the standards we will accept for teachers in those or any of our schools.”
As part of Daniels “education reform” package, Senate Bill 1 states that at least half of the teachers in a charter school are required to be licensed as teachers or be in the process of obtaining a license, unless the state board of education waives the limitation, Smith said in the release. House Bill 1369 states that a superintendent of schools is not required to hold a teacher’s or superintendent’s license. It also repeals a requirement that a county superintendent of schools must have five years of successful teaching experience and hold a superintendent’s license.
Smith, an education professor at Indiana University Northwest, continued:
“What the Daniels administration and the Republican majorities are saying is that the training that our teachers receive in our fine universities in Indiana is unnecessary, even though the education is geared toward effectively reaching children at various stages of their development. Once again, charter schools do not have to meet the criteria public schools do and, in fact, can get away with having only 50 percent of their teachers be properly trained and licensed. I would like Gov. Daniels to explain how that is, quote, ‘not allowing less-qualified candidates to enter the profession.’”
“During debate on House Bill 1369, Rep. Ed Soliday’s bill, Republicans talked about how valuable the experience of a businessman would be as a superintendent of a school. I do not doubt there are talented business people who could offer valuable advice, but without proper training and development of specific skills that deal with education, these individuals would not be able to deal effectively with the needs and situations that arise in today’s schools.
“Would you hire a dentist to perform heart surgery? The man may be exceedingly intelligent and a great dentist, but I am not going to let him put a scalpel to my chest. Likewise, we should never accept anything less than professionalism in the classroom for our children. Their future and the future of our state depend upon educators who are professionally trained and licensed.”
State Rep. Smith is an Indiana University graduate. He became a member of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1990 when Earline Rogers resigned to fill the Indiana Senate seat of the late State Sen. Carolyn Mosby.
Prior to his election to the Indiana House of Representatives, Smith had served on the Gary City Council since 1972.
Steven Higgs can be reached at editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com.
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State Rep. Vernon Smith