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Dr. Bennett writes the right Rx

In Dr. Tony Bennet, Dr. Tony Bennett, Education, Public Schools on January 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Much to the chagrin of many Indiana Public teachers, the rules are about to change.

And it’s about time.

The State board in charge of teacher licensing and preparation voted to approve the proposed rules by Indiana Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tony Bennett. Over the past year, many groups growled at the idea of ‘change’ , however Dr. Bennett had the insight to know sorely needed. Beginning in July, “teachers will be experts in the subjects they teach and allow adults from other careers to more easily enter the teaching profession”.

I have long suspected a ‘racket’ in the idea of higher education and being ‘allowed’ to teach in public schools. I think it has done a disservice to our students. I think it can be one reasonable explanation as to why our high school students do so poorly on required exams. Perhaps, now, that Pyrex ceiling of ’22-year-olds can only be beginning teachers’ can now be officially shattered. (More on the details, later.)

Here’s why I care:

Many moons ago, I received my second degree–an Indiana Teaching Degree (B.S.). This was after my first degree in Engineering. Upon completion I stayed home to care for my newborn and decided not to apply for that piece of paper from the DOE that said I could teach–after all, I would have to take classes again to maintain a license and I knew I needed to devote all my attention to my children. Subsequently, I had four more children who are better off for the time I was home with them until they entered school full time.

Then, I became divorced. I had to support myself and my children. Well, I had a back-up plan. Afterall, I went to college for 7 years for Something, right? No more volunteering at ‘Mommy Mornings’ at their schools, and hosting cocoa sledding parties after-school.  I would have to start my teaching career.

Then came the grand news. My Alma Matar said I would have to pretty much start over because the rules changes. 3 more years of full time? I was already $50K in the hole. Sounded like a racket. I went to work for minimum wage, went on food-stamps and Medicaid. Child support didn’t even put me ineligible.

I went to my other Alma Matar, and they said they wouldn’t recognize any other college’s Education program, even though they are accredited through the same body. Hmm.. Sounded like a racket. How could this be? This was a State School.

So I worked two minimum wage jobs, stayed on welfare roles, and struggled.

I eventually went to work at a private school with no benefits, no vacation, and still on the welfare roles. They didn’t need the State’s ok, I was cleared through my education and experience. That was ok, but it really didn’t pay well-enough to drive the 100 mile commute.

Eventually, I decided going to school for another identical degree just wasn’t going to happen. I dabbled in the idea of Law School and worked for just over minimum wage in a law office. I finally pursued a career at the college level and landed where I am, now.

I still don’t have any paid vacation, benefits, or insurance..but at least I am teaching. Just recently, in October, I finally went off part of the welfare-listees and I made enough to not be on Food Stamps (ok, just $50 too much, but that’s another story). I had to give up my home and cut back, still, but at least it is a step forward.

Will I ever seek that magic paper that says I can teach where my children go to school? I don’t know yet. The rational side of me says “Yes, you want to retire, right?”…and other parts of me wonder if I want to be part of that Sorority, now, afterall.

One things is certain–Indiana is on the right track. There neede to be more of it done–rebuilding Education. They are opening up the possibility for great people to teach.Perhaps, one day I shall be one of them.

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  1. It is indeed a racket. To receive a music education degree, I had to take education classes that were a joke and a complete waste of time. During my student teaching, the professor that was supposed to be overseeing me paid me exactly one visit of 10 minutes and apologized and said that he had been having car trouble. Our system weeds out people who are proficient in their subject. Good luck. I am happy you have persisted. It sounds as if you are a good teacher with a lot to offer your students.

    • I hear a lot of horror stories. People wonder why there is high turnover in the teaching profession…

      My student teaching was another one of those stories, as well. I had to teach 2 full semesters, and pay twice. My son was born 6 weeks premature and I missed the last two weeks of student teaching. I had to repeat it the next school year. Never mind that I had logged over 1000 hours in a classroom already, had another degree, and was a paid substitute for over 3 years prior to it.

      Now, they said if I want to get a state license, I will have to repeat my student teaching in a high school, too. Never mind I taught already and teach the same subject in college.

      I hope someone listens to get people who WANT to teach into the schools, and not those people who are there for 20 years because they feel they are entitled to keep their job.

  2. I would like a question answered in a concise and intelligent manner. How would you feel if I read one book of engineering, took a test, and was allowed to build bridges? Does that make me qualified to build bridges? I can shoot a gun and I understand the law, does that mean all I need to do is pass a test to become an officer? How about I pass a game of operation and become a surgeon? The reasoning behind you needing to take new courses is due to yearly changes in how we teach children and that what was effective 10 years ago simply isn’t as effective on students today.

    • The courses that they wanted me to take had nothing to do with new methods or new curriculum or new content. They were the exact same courses I had already taken, but had different course numbers, now. I don’t mind at all having to take continuing education. I enjoy all the classes I take. I take graduate courses every year on my own. I think they are important.

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