New licensing provisions put in place by the Indiana State Board of Education have Indiana teachers in an uproar.
The Board of Education approved career specialist permits in a 6-5 vote May 14.
According to the new rules, any person with a four-year college degree, a 3.0 or higher GPA and three years of work experience can get a teaching license for his or her field in Indiana. No background in teaching is required.
“Teaching isn’t just about knowing content,” said Teresa Meredith, Indiana State Teachers Association president.
Meredith and the ISTA have been vocal in their opposition to the new provisions.
“I hope that the Board of Education will reconsider and have respect for the profession,” Meredith said.
Lou Ann Baker, spokeswoman for the Indiana State Board of Education, said it wasn’t an easy decision for the board.
“What was approved was a compromise from what the Board discussed and what they heard from professionals in the field,” she said. “We’re making sure you have a knowledgeable person in front of these students.”
Potential career specialists will also have to pass a content assessment test. Upon being hired to teach, they will begin pedagogy training immediately, and they will learn in areas like classroom management, curriculum development and psychology of child development.
But it still means career specialists could be hired without having any experience in front of students in a teaching capacity.
“There’s more to it than just standing in front of students ready to tell them all you know,” Meredith said.
Baker said the career specialist permits were modeled after career and technical training permits that certify professionals in trades like auto repair and firefighting to teach.
She said supporters of the new permits believe they will give administrators flexibility when finding teachers.
“If they find someone who doesn’t have a teaching background, but they think could be inspirational in the classroom, they can hire that person,” she said.
Rural schools sometimes have difficulty finding teachers, and the permits would give administrators another option, Baker said.
Though people with career specialist permits would be certified to teach anywhere in the state, hiring them will be entirely up to individual school districts, Baker said.
“If they want only to hire teachers who have gone the traditional route with an education degree, they can absolutely do so,” she said.
Meredith said the ISTA will urge parents to tell administrators not to hire people with career specialist permits.
She is a mother, and her first two children were prone to ear infections. When she had her third child, her doctor recommended she buy an otoscope, a medical device used to look into the ears.
She purchased one, and now she knows a decent amount about ear infections.
“But I shouldn’t be a doctor,” she said. “There are more things I need to know about the ear and how the whole human body works, and it’s likewise with teaching.”