Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Testimony to Indiana Legislative Study Committee, Oct. 19th 2015

Good Evening Senator Kruse and Members of the Education Study Committee.

My name is Clyde Gaw. I am the Advocacy Chair for the Art Education Association of Indiana and also volunteer as the chair of the Youth and Education Committee for the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside of Indianapolis.

The question this committee needs to ask itself, is the teacher shortage indicative of a larger problem as a result of the policies you have mandated for Indiana classrooms?

A causal relationship from high stakes standardized assessments related to the teacher shortage has been established here. The intensification of testing has lead to learning experiences that are centered primarily on tests.

Photo by Indiana State Representative Melanie Wright

Let’s talk about the psychology of instruction teachers must utilize in order to prepare students for these tests.

What I have observed in 32 years of classroom experience, is that teachers employ curriculum experiences around an instructional psychology related to radical behaviorism.

Now, I like Representative Vernon Smith, but I do not agree with Representative Smith that children are blank slates (He stated earlier that children are “blank slates”). Children are anything but blank slates. Children are born into this world with a unique set of neuro-cognitive capacities and innate endowment. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 deal with mental illness. Teachers face heterogeneous learning groups in their classrooms but the state treats them as homogeneous cohorts.

When you drive the cold hard spike of inappropriate pressure into the malleable mind of a child there is a price to pay. That price is disengagement. Look at the Gallup Poll of student engagement. Look at the High School Survey of Student engagement.

Look at citizen engagement. Indiana’s voting turnout of 28% in the last election is abysmal.
If you want citizens to disengage from their civic duties, disengage them as children.

A child’s first experience with their government is in the classroom with their teacher. That experience is primarily Pavlovian.

Why are we having a teacher shortage? Why would anyone want to return to the scene of the crime?

Experiences in classrooms today as a result of standardized testing are anything but democratic.
I thank you for your time.

Screen grab of TABLE 4 by Tom File for U.S. Census Bureau, 2014

41.1 percent of Indiana's young adults between 18-29 years old vote.

Screen grab of graph from Pew Research reveals US voter turnout for the 2012 general election of 53.6% lags behind the rest of the World.

References: Healey, Jane, Endangered Minds,