Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ind. should shelve gay marriage issue

Posted on Dec. 26, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

Recent editorials from Indiana newspapers:

The Indianapolis Star:

The U.S. Supreme Court has just given the Indiana General Assembly a breather, if lawmakers and their leadership will only recognize it.

By agreeing to hear two cases involving the volatile issue of same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships, the high court has sent a clear signal to state governments to hold off on making decisions of their own.

Regardless of where one stands on the debate over state-sanctioned unions, the upcoming decisions on same-sex marriage bans in California’s constitution and in federal law will provide essential guidance. Until then, any state action runs the risk of wasting effort and money while causing unnecessary acrimony.

This is particularly true for Indiana, where a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions would not go before voters until November 2014, regardless of whether it passed this coming session of the legislature or the next one. The divisive issue already has roiled several sessions with quarreling that consumed time better spent dealing with jobs, taxes and education. Meanwhile, the state already has a law restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

For that reason, it would be best if the General Assembly avoided this unnecessary fight altogether.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long were unavailable for comment; but their Republican supermajorities have said they will give priority to bread-and-butter issues for 2013. That does not mean social issues will be abandoned. In the case of the marriage amendment, though, shelving it for the year simply makes sense.

The Supreme Court could go in any of several directions, perhaps narrowly ruling on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, perhaps applying its opinion — yea or nay — to all 50 states. The vote is expected to be close in each case.

If the language of Indiana’s proposed amendment passes muster, the process of placing it before the public would not have been affected by delay. If the proposal doesn’t comply with the new standard, state lawmakers could then decide whether to rewrite or drop the effort altogether. In either case, Hoosiers will benefit from a year of welcome peace and more time dedicated to more pressing work.

The Times (Munster):

Under Indiana’s new teacher licensing rules, the path for adjunct instructors in grades 6 to 12 has been greased too liberally.

The Indiana State Board of Education’s revision of teacher licensing rules should be seen as a poke in incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz’s eye, not as sound public policy. Ritz was unhappy that the board members, appointed by the governor, didn’t wait for her to begin her term in office before voting on this change.

Colleges have long used adjunct faculty as instructors. That’s an acceptable practice. But secondary school differs from college. Those students are still learning the basics.

The new “adjunct teacher permit,” created by the State Board of Education, allows anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a 3.6 grade-point average to pass a subject test and immediately qualify to teach that subject in a Hoosier middle school or high school classroom. ...

While we’re not quick to agree with her that the new REPA II rules “would dismantle our profession,” we are concerned.

Teachers need two basic skills to be able to teach students effectively. The first is mastery of the subject they’re teaching. The second is the ability to transmit that knowledge to students in a way that leads to their own mastery of the subject. Sure, adjunct instructors know their subject, but can they teach?

The new licensing rules require teachers with adjunct permits to be rated “effective” or “highly effective” in three of their first five years of teaching for their permit to be renewed. That’s good, but not good enough. ...

Yes, there should be a shortcut for prospective teachers who have obviously mastered the subject they will teach, based on their education or life experiences, as well as passing the test, but prepare them for classroom management and teaching skills before turning them loose in the classroom. ...