State School Board endorses easier route to classroom for new teachers

2014-05-14T22:13:00Z 2014-05-15T16:26:06Z State School Board endorses easier route to classroom for new teachersDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
May 14, 2014 10:13 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The State Board of Education agreed Wednesday to create a “career specialist” teaching permit, enabling Hoosiers with three years full-time work experience, but no education training, to become high school teachers in the subject they worked in.

Teachers with this kind of permit also must have earned a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 grade point average. In addition, they must complete training courses on how to teach within two years of receiving their permit.*

The proposal is a revision of the "adjunct teacher permit" plan initially approved in December 2012 by a state School Board seeking to give Republican Tony Bennett a final victory on his way out of office. Bennett lost the month before to Democrat Glenda Ritz in his bid to remain state superintendent of public instruction.

Under that proposal, Hoosiers who earned good grades in college en route to a bachelor’s degree would have been permitted to teach without any additional coursework.

The idea was to create 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.

Bennett and then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, also a Republican, strongly backed the adjunct proposal, claiming it would give local school corporations greater flexibility in hiring.

Ritz opposed the plan but was not allowed to participate in the board's discussion at the time.

When technical rule-making changes brought the permit issue before the board again Wednesday, Ritz recommended the adjunct teacher plan be dropped.

She noted several alternative paths to teacher licensing already exist and include vital training in how to teach children.

Brad Oliver, a Republican board member from Muncie, agreed with Ritz that teachers should learn how to teach before they're standing in front of a classroom and charged with ensuring each student achieves at least a year's worth of academic progress.

Nevertheless, the board voted 6-5 to overrule Ritz and keep the adjunct permit.

Democrat Tony Walker, of Gary, who represents Northwest Indiana on the state education board, supported the adjunct permit, as he did in 2012 when he said school corporations ultimately will decide whether they want to hire adjunct permit holders.

Though after further discussion, the board voted 8-3 to support a motion by Gordon Hendry, an Indianapolis Democrat who serves as a statewide representative on the board, eliminating the bachelor’s degree requirement and substituting relevant work experience.

Hendry also insisted, and the board agreed, that holders of the now-named “career specialist” permit be required to complete appropriate education training programs within two years to maintain it.

It still likely will be many months before any Hoosier can obtain a career specialist teacher permit.

The final proposed rule must be reviewed again by the State Board and approved by Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Gov. Mike Pence, both Republicans, before it can take effect.

* This story has been changed.

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