By Steve Gunn
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s good to know that State Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz won’t be having much impact on educational decisions in Indiana.
Ritz, the pro-union Democrat who upset reform-minded State Superintendent Tony Bennett in the November election, was invited to give her input to the Indiana State Board of Education regarding proposed new rules that would allow people without formal teaching degrees to join the profession.
Ritz opposed the measure. The board, comprised largely of appointees of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, didn’t care. It voted Wednesday to approve the new rule, opening the K-12 ranks up to those who didn’t take the traditional teacher college route, according to a story posted on TribStar.com.
Although she doesn’t take office until January, Ritz was hoping the board would see things her way and kill the new proposal. She and her allies in the Indiana State Teachers Association hate the idea of having professionals from other fields compete with educators from traditional backgrounds.
More than anything, the unions have a strong distaste for the world of business, and don’t want people with private sector backgrounds to have influence over children.
“We cannot have anything standing in the way of putting qualified teachers in our classroom,” Ritz told the board.
But board member Jo Blacketor, speaking for the pro-reform majority, pointed out that too many students are dropping out of school and new strategies are needed to find teachers who can relate to kids.
“Every 26 seconds we’re losing a child,” Blacketor was quoted as saying. “We’re losing sight of that. We’re concentrating too much here on the teachers and the institutions.”
Derek Redelman of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce pointed out that the new rules will simply increase the teacher talent pool, giving school principals more hiring options.
“All you are doing is providing greater flexibility at the local level,” Redelman was quoted as saying.