As local school leaders review retirements, resignations and fall student enrollment, most are looking to hire talented, enthusiastic teachers to be effective in the classroom.
And many say for those reasons, they do not support the Indiana Board of Education's creation of an adjunct teacher permit.
That permit, approved in December, allows anyone with a bachelor's degree and a 3.6 grade point average to pass a subject test and immediately qualify to teach that subject to middle and high school students in Indiana.
The adjunct permit creates a different route to the classroom than the traditional practitioner license, which requires training in child development, child psychology and pedagogy and how to run a classroom -- along with student-teaching and additional in-school internship requirements.
Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Mike Berta said a person can possess a high level of knowledge about a subject and that knowledge can serve that person well. However, for that knowledge to benefit others through teaching and learning, one must possess certain skills and talents, he said.
"These skills and talents include but are not limited to empathy, developing relationships, identifying learning needs to differentiate instruction and student guidance," Berta said. "Absent these skills and talents in the teacher, the probability is low that a successful teaching and learning experience will happen."
"I am concerned with political actions that may minimize the importance of the (teacher-student) relationship in the future," he said.
MSD of Boone Township Superintendent George Letz said he would not hire anyone without all the formal education and training he deems necessary to be an effective teacher.
"There are opportunities to observe and teach in a classroom before a student gets the degree," he said. "The content knowledge is very important, but you have to be able to differentiate the instruction based on the child's ability."
Over the last couple of years, Indiana has put a number of measures in place that many traditional public school educators see as favoring charter schools and private schools. Up to 10 percent of a charter school's teaching staff is not required to have a teaching license.
Angela West, principal at 21st Century Charter School in Gary, said the school strives to hire the most qualified candidate it can find.
"While a teacher may possess a license, that does not always guarantee quality," she said. "We do prefer teachers who are licensed. If we have an applicant who is unlicensed -- but highly qualified -- and they want to teach at our school, they would not be precluded from the job opportunity."