Ultra far right wing conservatives Todd Courser and Gary Glenn took steps this week that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that their views on education have more to do with people in the 18th Century than they do with any modern views on education today. In a Facebook post this week that he has since deleted, Courser describes our state’s education system as being run by “top down soviet style central planners” and says that the schools should be a “ministry of the church” to ensure that students can “read the scriptures” and not to prepare them for careers as adults.
Here’s a screencap of his truly astonishing views on education and, as you read it, remember that this man is on the House Education Committee which conducts hearings and decides which legislation gets to be voted on by the full House:
As I said, it’s an astonishing glimpse into the mind of Todd Courser. It’s one thing to have these far-outside-the-mainstream beliefs as a private citizen. But to be in a position of relative power in our state government and hold them is frightening. We live in an age when getting a good education is an almost essential component of getting a good job that pays your bills, allows you to have good healthcare insurance, and enough resources to buy a home and raise a family if you choose to do that. Having a State House Representative suggest that education is simply about making us good citizens who are able to read the Scriptures – and, ironically, telling us using remarkably poor grammar and punctuation – would be enough in some places to initiate a recall to remove him from office.
It’s not just frightening, in fact. It is irresponsible.
Another State House Representative with 18th Century views on education is Gary Glenn. Glenn introduced legislation this week to allow schools to hire pretty much anyone they want to teach school. Currently, a school board or district may hire uncertified teachers to teach 9th through 12th grade classes in specific topics if they meet certain criteria:
- Must have earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution.
- Must have a major or a graduate degree in the field of specialization in which he or she will teach.
- If the teacher desires to teach for more than 1 year, has passed both a basic skills examination and a subject area examination, if a subject area examination exists, in the field of specialization in which he or she will teach.
- Except in the case of persons engaged to teach a foreign language, the teacher must have had, in the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of hire, not less than 2 years of occupational experience in the field of specialization in which he or she will teach.
Most importantly, the current law says the board of a local or intermediate school district shall not engage a full-time or part-time noncertificated, nonendorsed teacher to teach if the district is able to engage a certificated, endorsed teacher unless that person is working on getting a teaching certificate.
If Glenn’s bill – House Bill 4394 – becomes law, schools can hire anyone they want. The criteria currently used would be tossed out the window. The bill literally strikes out all of the criteria. In addition, it removes the words grades “9 through 12” meaning that schools could hire anyone they wish, with or without a teaching certificate, for any grade level. No training as an educator required.
The goal here is obvious: push out certified teachers and bring in people to teach who are willing to work on the cheap.
Our state legislature is full of some pretty conservative types but, except for Cindy Gamrat, none of them are as off the rails as Todd Courser and Gary Glenn. Fortunately, even people in their own caucus are freaked out by these two. I have heard from multiple sources that the Republicans in the state legislature are doing everything in their power to make sure these two, along with Gamrat, are not seen as representing the Republicans as a whole and that they are neutralized and unable to have an impact that would harm their brand.
I have some bad news for Republicans: unless you start doing something very publicly to distance yourself from Courser, Glenn, and Gamrat, you own them. They are your tar babies.
Education is important. It’s probably the most important thing we do as a state government in terms of our state’s long-term economic prosperity and the happiness of its citizens. Courser and Glenn’s ideas aren’t just out of mainstream. They are a throwback to the days of the schoolmarm in a one-room school house teaching the catechism to students by candlelight. It’s my sincere hope that their constituents are experiencing buyers’ remorse and will do the right thing by replacing them in 2016.