Updated: February 17, 2014 8:33AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Educators again are fighting watered-down requirements for Indiana teachers that were pushed through by officials after opponent Glenda Ritz was elected superintendent of public instruction.
The state Board of Education approved some of the changes following the 2012 election despite Ritz’s urgings to put off a vote, but Ritz hasn’t implemented them and the state attorney general’s office questioned some of the proposal’s wording last year.
A new version is being discussed in public forums across Indiana, where they’re drawing heated criticism from teachers, who could face losing their licenses if they don’t consistently meet performance requirements.
The board could vote again as soon as March, The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.
The proposal would allow anyone with a four-year college degree and a 3.0 GPA to teach under an “adjunct” license after passing a test, but they would have to receive training afterward.
It also reduces requirements for school superintendents. An educator with a master’s degree and two years of teaching experience could manage a school district without passing a rigorous exam that currently is required.
Indiana University School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez said at a public forum Tuesday in Indianapolis that the board wants to hold existing teachers more accountable while opening the doors to the classroom to people with no training in education.
“How can we require more of our students and less of our teachers and school leaders?” said Gonzalez, one of about a dozen educators who criticized the proposed changes. “When we lower standards we find that academically talented, highly motivated young people who are passionate about teaching turn away from it.”
He said the changes open teaching careers “to anyone with a college degree.”
However, junior high school teacher Sean Steele liked part of the proposal that would loosen requirements for fine arts teachers.
Steele, who teaches at Orleans Community Schools in southern Indiana, said he had been an artist all his life.
“Art should not be treated any differently than other subjects,” Steele said. “It should not be the sacred cow.”
Bennett’s stronger 2012 proposal also would have let teachers instruct students with special needs without first getting the coursework that currently is required.
In 2012, teachers cried out against a provision that would have taken away licenses from teachers with consecutive low performance evaluations.
Though the most criticized rules were removed, the rest were approved at a December meeting, one month before Ritz took over the state’s top education post. Ritz had asked the Board of Education to hold off until after she took office.
However, the state attorney general’s office questioned the wording of some of the rules and Ritz did not put them into effect.