A move by the State Board of Education to adopt new rules for educator licensing illustrates just how little influence the state’s schools superintendent, Glenda Ritz, has in slowing down the reforms of former schools chief Tony Bennett.
The board’s action a year ago this month came in spite of a plea from Ritz to postpone a decision until January 2013, when she was to take office. Ritz had opposed the new rules in her campaign, saying they threatened to diminish the standards of the teaching profession.
Indiana colleges and universities saw the new rules as a direct assault. They said eliminating the requirement for teacher training would diminish the teaching profession and make it difficult to attract the best and brightest.
Teachers unions predicted the changes would bring a return of the nepotism and cronyism of years gone by.
Supporters, though, argued 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 was 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.