Five leaders of Indiana's education schools, including Ball State, have formally organized for the first time, and they made their public debut Tuesday at UniverCity.
The Indiana Consortium of Education Deans -- comprised of Ball State Teachers College dean Roy Weaver, the deans of Indiana University, the University of Southern Indiana, Indiana State University and the interim dean of Purdue University -- remains a new creation. Its appearance at UniverCity marks its second meeting.
Weaver said, however, he is hoping the consortium becomes an influential group among state legislators, and the consortium will allow the deans greater access to each college's ideas and research.
Nonetheless, Weaver said he does not want the organization to dictate policy or programs for\ members.
"The actual direction and leadership for the research will reside here," he said. "Any one of of us has the right to disagree on an issue. We didn't want to create some sort of bureaucracy. It's not an expensive group."
The deans have so far swapped ideas and opinions on charter schools, magnet schools, bilingual education and a host of other education issues, but nothing definitive has occurred yet, Weaver said.
The consortium met twice Tuesday and spend about 90 minutes with students and teachers. During the time, the deans fielded questions from the approximately 20 students and teachers.
None of the questions concerned the consortium itself. Students were more interested in how to create higher-quality teachers and pushing students lacking English skills into college.
C. Jack Maynard, the dean of Indiana State University's School of Education, said teachers need more support from their universities during the first eight to 10 years of their career, when teachers evolve into true educators.
Universities also need to take a more systematic approach to guest lecturers and speakers, Maynard said.
"For years, they have been dog and pony shows. We have got to get away from that," he said.
Gerardo Gonzalez, the dean of Indiana University's School of Education, fielded one student's inquiry on bilingual education. Gonzalez, whose native language is Spanish, said total immersion is important.
"Teaching English in isolation is a difficult enterprise," he said.
The crowd dwindled during the presentation, but the consortium impressed Tracy Cross, the executive director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities. Cross stayed until the end of the presentation, and he said such a group was needed.
"It's hard to imagine it can be anything but beneficial," Cross said. "The issue of pre-teacher training needs to transcend university boundaries."