Category Archives: Indiana State Board of Education

Hot Air

My Bully Pulpit

It’s not easy being a thought leader of the free world, especially when operating out of the bustling metrop. of Bloomington, USA. See, this burgh still has a lot of small town qualities, one of which being everybody who’s anybody knows everybody else who’s anybody.

So, unlike my early days as a scribe in my beloved hometown of Chicago, I can’t get away with insulting, degrading, abasing, and otherwise verbally terrorizing people and dismiss them all, once the feedback starts rolling in, with a blase Ah, screw ’em; they’re all strangers to me anyway.

That’s why Friday was a tough one. My post that day had to do with the state of Indiana considering allowing non-professional teachers to teach here, as long as they qualify under a new category called Career Workplace Specialist. Under this proposed guideline, for instance, a working chemist could teach chemistry classes in an Indiana high school. The state teachers ass’n is aghast at the whole notion.

Chemistry Teacher

Those Who Do Can Teach

My take was the professional teachers should quit considering themselves divine emissaries, sent here to elevate our precious snowflake kids from slug-like ignorance to an enlightened swami state. Teaching, I pontificated, is something many, many, many more of us can do than only those who’ve been anointed by this holy land’s schools of education.

I predicted this stance would ruffle a lot of teachers’ feathers, and I was right.

In fact, the most heartfelt reaction came from one of the most beloved and respected teachers at Bloomington North High School. Elizabeth Sweeney told me in no uncertain terms that I was flat out wrong.

As I read her response to my screed, I could sense the undertone of pain of someone who’s devoted herself to the instruction of our town’s youth, who’s spent tens of thousands of dollars learning her craft in college, who is really on the job 24 hours a day, and who is justifiably proud of what she’s chosen to do with her limited time on this planet.

And you know what? I feel really bad about that.

I’ve met E. Sweeney on several occasions. I’ve done business with her. I like her. I respect her. Her reputation around town is sparkling. And now this person feels slighted by me.

I’ve grappled with my feelings about that this whole weekend. My conclusion? That’s the crappy part of running this communications colossus. But, as Linda Ellerbee once observed about the role of a journalist, if you haven’t made someone mad, or at least uncomfortable, you haven’t done your job that day.

So I’m going to continue to take the chance that someone on any given day will be incensed by my barkings and bleatings. I only hope the next such person is more deserving of a kick in the pants than Elizabeth Sweeney.

A Spade Is A Spade

On the other hand, one person, whom I don’t know, told me in the comments section of Friday’s post that I am a lib-tard [sic].

Whoever you are, thanks!

EP Comment

The McDonald’s Gap

Some 2000 fast food workers protested at McDonald’s world headquarters in west suburban Chicago Wednesday. Their main gripe? Pay.

McDonald’s may be one of the two or three most recognized American institutions in the world but its burger flippers make minimum wage ⎯ $8.25 an hour in Illinois. A McDonald’s employee who works, say, 37 hours in a week can expect to bring home, therefore, the princely sum of $213.67 after taxes.

MCDonald’s CEO Don Thompson makes more than $13 million a year.

McDonald's Alternative Handbook

More, Sir?

A Bloomberg article published in December 2012 calculated that a starting worker at McD’s would have to work one million hours to make what the then-CEO of the outfit made in a year. Working 37 hours a week, a person totals some 1924 hours in a year. The article also pointed out that McDonald’s pays for lobbyists to fight against minimum wage increases.

My suggestion for the protesters? Forget the company’s world headquarters; just dig up Don Thompson’s address and pay him a visit.

Hoosier Hornplay

Here’s a fun piece from Louis Armstrong:

h/t to Jan Takehara who, BTW, is such a Cubs fan that as a young adult she lived in an unheated, rundown apartment just because it was across the street from Wrigley Field. She lived there with a cat named Jose Cardenal.


Jose Cardenal

Hot Air

Those Who Can…

I’ll be making a lot of teachers mad today. That’s nothing new; some four and a half decades ago I was an unruly little shit terrorizing any number of trained experts in the art of controlling and forming the minds of feral beastlings like me.

The Indiana Board of Ed last week voted to allow non-professional teachers to teach in state schools. Professional teachers, naturally, are up in arms.

The Board sez it would like to okay something called Career Workplace Specialists, folks who’ve made their daily bread in specific fields and who then would be qualified to teach our kids that stuff. Well, your kids. I don’t have any. You’re welcome.

Anyway, the state teachers union thinks this is the worst thing since MERS. Union boss Teresa Meredith told WFIU reporter Brandon Smith that teachers need intensive “pedagogy training” before they can be allowed to face a classroom full of brats like I was.

Blackboard Jungle

From The Movie “Blackboard Jungle”

That quote alone is enough to convince me I’m going to side with the Board. The teaching profession has become a priestly caste with an obfuscating language all its own. The entrenched pro teaching people forget that we’re all teachers; the very nature of civilization forces each and every adult to be a life-certified pedagogista.

This is not to say that pro-teachers haven’t learned a thing or two about imparting knowledge, getting kids to think critically, and preventing impromptu riots from breaking out. Problem is, it seems the teaching profession has been, for all intents and purposes, restricted only to the third pillar of those qualifications. What with a rigid common core, teaching to the test, and the alarming popular distaste for science and empirical facts, teachers are hamstrung these days.

Let’s be clear: the teaching profession, by and large, has opposed the general trend away from getting kids to learn how to think and toward producing standardized, docile little graduate lambs. Sadly, the efforts of teachers unions and the pedagogical academia have had next to no effect on the educational paradigm of turning out kids who know how to spit back facts but have absolutely no acumen for analyzing and critiquing. So, it can be said the only thing teachers unions have left to fight for is their own jobs.

And now, they fear, they’re going to be losing them to people who aren’t professional teachers.

But, as I say, we’re all teachers. And I’d rather have, say, a professional chemist teaching me chemistry than a person who finds it necessary to use the term pedagogy.

Hear Charlotte Here

Here’s your link to hear the WFHB Daily Local News feature on my Big Talk interview with Charlotte Zietlow.


Charlotte Zietlow (Photo: David Snodgress/Herald-Times)

The latest issue of The Ryder magazine hits the streets today, carrying the entire hour-long chat I had with the doyenne of the Democratic Party here in Bloomington and Monroe County. The piece will go up on The Ryder website in about a week.

Tune in to WFHB and read The Ryder each month to catch the long and short versions of the monthly Big Talk series. And stay right here on The Electron Pencil for updates on who I’ll be interviewing next.


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