The issue: State Board of Education’s approval last week of new rules for teaching licenses.
Our view: Move could be a bad sign for supporters of the state’s new schools superintendent.
A move by the State Board of Education to adopt new rules for educator licensing might illustrate just how little influence the state’s new schools superintendent, Glenda Ritz, could have in slowing down the reforms of current schools chief Tony Bennett.
The board’s action came in spite of a plea from Ritz to postpone a decision until after she takes office next month. Ritz had opposed the new rules in her campaign, saying they threatened to diminish the standards of the teaching profession.
Indiana colleges and universities see the new rules as a direct assault. They say eliminating the requirement for teacher training will diminish the teaching profession and make it difficult to attract the best and brightest.
Teachers unions predict the changes will bring a return of the nepotism and cronyism of years gone by.
Supporters, though, argue the new rules don’t require local school districts to do anything. They simply give school corporations more flexibility, expanding the pool of candidates.
One of the more controversial changes is a new “adjunct teaching permit” that 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. The board added a “pedagogy requirement” that requires teachers with an adjunct permit to score well on future evaluations and to take college or other professional development courses to renew their teaching licenses.
Another area of contention involved “content area exams.” Bennett and his staff wanted the board to approve rules that would allow teachers who already held a teaching license to be able to gain certification in additional subject areas by taking a test rather than additional college-level coursework. The board approved a revised rule that allows teachers to “test into” some subject areas but not others, including special education, elementary education, early childhood education and English as a second language.
And in what could be construed as a direct affront to the new schools chief, the board voted to transfer the power to approve teacher-training programs away from the Indiana Department of Education and to the State Board of Education.
The vote could be a harbinger of things to come. If it is, Ritz supporters could be looking at a frustrating four years.