INDIANAPOLIS | Got a bachelor's degree? Get good grades in college? Congratulations, you're now eligible to teach in an Indiana middle or high school — no special teacher training, student teaching or experience necessary.
The State Board of Education voted 9-2 Wednesday to change Indiana's teacher licensing rules by creating a new "adjunct teacher permit," allowing any bachelor's degree holder with a 3.0 grade point average — and who can pass a subject test — to immediately teach that subject in an Indiana classroom.
The adjunct permit creates a different route to the classroom than the traditional "practitioner" license, which requires training in child development, child psychology and how to run a classroom — along with student teaching and additional in-school internship requirements.
State school board members, who were appointed by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, agreed with Tony Bennett, the Republican superintendent of public instruction, that the change will give schools greater flexibility in hiring.
Teachers on an adjunct permit must be rated "effective" or "highly effective" in three of their first five years teaching to renew their permits. A last-minute change to the rules requires permit holders to take a teacher training course once they've started teaching.
The rules also change the training requirements for school principals. A principal no longer must hold a master's degree.
Instead, he or she must have a bachelor's degree, at least two years teaching experience and must successfully complete a training program in administration to be licensed.
Only one person, a Bennett ally, spoke in favor of the plan Wednesday morning during more than two hours of public testimony in Indianapolis. More than 20 university professors, Hoosier teachers and parents told the state board that students will suffer under the new rules.
"Sending unprepared individuals into classrooms to learn to teach — on the backs of often our most needy students — is inappropriate," said Patricia Rogan, a dean of the School of Education at Indiana University.
Other speakers questioned why the rules were being rushed through in the final days of Bennett's term instead of allowing Democratic Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz to participate in the process.
Michael Pettibone, a board member from Monroe, Ind., attempted to delay the new rules until a broader consensus was reached. His motion to table the rules did not get the required second from another board member.
Prior to the successful final vote, Gary board member Tony Walker reminded the panel that local school corporations ultimately make all hiring decisions and can refuse to hire teachers who hold adjunct permits.
"It provides greater options and flexibility only for the school districts that want to participate in it," Walker said. "No one is forced to do anything."