Over the protests of teachers’ unions and some universities that train new teachers, the State Board of Education has changed the licensing and credentialing rules for K-12 educators.
The new rules ease the traditional education-training requirements needed to become a school administrator or teacher and will allow more people without a teaching degree to become classroom teachers. The board voted Wednesday for the new rules, despite a plea from the newly elected state schools’ superintendent, Glenda Ritz, to postpone their decision until after she takes office in January.
“We cannot have anything standing in the way of putting qualified teachers in our classroom,” she said in comments made to the board at the invitation of current Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
Bennett, who sits on the board by virtue of his position, had pushed for the new Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability, known as REPA II. He touted them as a part of a package of education reforms passed by the Indiana General Assembly.
Ritz, a Democrat who beat Bennett in an upset race, had opposed the new rules in her campaign, saying they threatened to diminish the standards of the teaching profession. She was hoping the board would see things her way. But many of the board members, who were appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels for their support of the sweeping reforms he championed, made it clear they had no interest in delay.
“Every 26 seconds, we’re losing a child,” said Jo Blacketor, referring to the frequency of students dropping out of high school. “We’re losing sight of that. We’re concentrating too much here on the teachers and the institutions.”
One of the new changes that generated the most heat in the controversy is the creation of an “adjunct teaching permit.” It allows someone who earned a four-year college degree with a 3.0 grade point average to earn a credential to teach by passing an exam that proves proficiency in the subject area.