Transforming Education—January 2016

TE Ena

Are you ready for a change?

As we welcome 2016, many of us make resolutions wanting to improve and change our lives. Change can be positive, but, sometimes, too many changes happening too fast based on too little information lead to chaos, frustration, and fatigue.

State Representative Terry Austin shared at a state meeting of the Indiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (IACTE) that the Indiana General Assembly approved 111 education “reform” changes in 26 legislative bills in just the past four years. If you are an educator, you have experienced the consequences of these rapid changes, and you may be feeling frustrated, too.

Often policymakers make changes without hearing the voices of those who are closest to the issues. But if we want to be heard, we have to speak up! Even though the current Indiana legislative session is a short one, I challenge you to advocate for changes based upon solid research and the knowledge of experienced educators. You can call or email your representative, write a letter to the editor (as I did), have your students invite policymakers to their school, or share links to good articles for them to read. I did the latter today and heard back immediately from two state representatives. You won’t know until you try, and you cannot expect someone else to speak for you.

On February 16, aspiring teacher education students from colleges and universities from across the state will hold the first IACTE Day on the Hill event at the Indiana State House. We want legislators to see the faces and hear the voices of those coming into the profession. In spite of the negative discourse that has surrounded teacher education and the teaching profession, we intend to introduce legislators to wonderful people who still desire to become teachers. We want the teacher education students to see the importance of being advocates for their chosen profession and for policymakers to see the talent that is coming into the field of teaching.

Gandhi’s inspirational quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a call to action by each of us. We don’t need 111 changes in four years.

Rather, what changes do you need to make, and what changes do we need to make to continually create strong schools in an ever-changing world?

So, gather your thoughts, your wisdom, and your passion and make your voices heard to your representatives. It is up to us to be the voice of the profession and advocates for children who do not have a voice in the process themselves.

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education