The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University called for “a process of strategic renewal to best serve the educational challenges of the next century.” The plan noted that the IU schools of education “have the leading role in the state in training elementary and secondary teachers and administrators, and in producing innovative research on teacher training, pedagogy, curriculum, and administration,” but that P–12 education in Indiana—and certainly in particular areas—still lags in student attainment and equality of opportunity. As national and international leaders in the field of education, the IU schools of education can (and do) help Indiana to meet this challenge.
The plan also noted the dramatic declines in enrollment in teacher preparation programs in all IU education schools over the last decade, reflecting national trends as well as changes in P–12 education policy specific to Indiana. The decline in enrollment is especially concerning for the regional campus schools, which are smaller and more exclusively focused on teacher preparation, and it directly contributes to teacher shortages in many parts of Indiana. The decline in teacher preparation enrollments also needs to be addressed at a strategic level and in collaboration with the state.
The original strategic plan process called for two internal reviews—one by the core School of Education and one by the regional campus schools—in conjunction with a Blue Ribbon Committee on Education review panel study. While the Blue Ribbon group was to concentrate primarily on the future of schools of education generally, as opposed to a review of IU’s schools as such, the panel found that it was unable to reach firm conclusions because members perceived widespread dissatisfaction with the core school structure of the School of Education at IU Bloomington and IUPUI. The result of the Blue Ribbon review panel process led to a thorough reassessment by the core School of Education of its structure; the ultimate recommendation was to divide the core school into two. Assuming that the Board of Trustees approves the change, now is the time to revisit our approach to Bicentennial Priority Four.
With the passage of time, there seems little reason to return to the Blue Ribbon review panel process. Rather, the schools themselves, individually and collectively, should address the more focused topic of their support for improvements in P–12 education in their communities, regions, and the state. This was, and is, a major motivation of Priority Four. Each IU school of education already has close ties to many elementary and secondary schools, and they are deeply committed to teacher preparation. Thus, our objective in renewing Priority Four is to extend and deepen the schools’ existing efforts, and to leverage and coordinate IU’s state-wide reach.