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Taking the 'ed' out of ed policy

Indiana educators have been largely excluded from the education debate in recent years. Now there's a legislative effort to intentionally cut them out of education policy.

State Rep. Todd Huston, who some observers believe was the real political muscle behind state Supt. Tony Bennett, has filed a bill that would remove the requirement that "at least four members of the state board of education be actively employed in schools in Indiana and hold a teaching license."

It's surely no coincidence that objections to the controversial teacher licensing changes came from two educators on the board, Huntington teacher Cari Whicker and Adams Central Superintendent Mike Pettibone. For good measure, Huston seeks to strip the requirement limiting the board to not more than six members of the same political party. That would ensure that board members wouldn't speak truth to power, as Gary attorney Tony Walker did earlier this month in calling out the state for not making kindergarten mandatory.

If you can't beat 'em at the ballot box, do it legislatively, right? After all, if Indiana teachers don't need to know anything about teaching to teach in our schools, why should board of education members know anything about education to serve on the state board of education?

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at