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State Board of Ed passes new licensing standards for teachers, administrators

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Updated: January 7, 2013 7:19AM



The State Board of Education passed changes to teacher and administrator licensing requirements at its Wednesday meeting — a move that critics say lowers standards in the classroom and supporters argue allows for different perspectives.

The board voted 9-2 to approve revisions to the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability, which would allow college graduates to obtain licenses without completing teacher training courses. In addition, districts can hire principals and superintendents who do not have master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively.

Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz, who defeated incumbent Superintendent Tony Bennett in last month’s election, asked the board to consider tabling the standards for further study until after she takes office on Jan. 14. But board members stressed that they had heard a wealth of public comment on the matter and they were confident in their decision-making process.

Merrillville Community Schools Superintendent Tony Lux said the final draft removed the DOE’s right to approve the teacher program accreditation and adjunct teacher definition process, placing it in the hands of the GOP-dominated State Board of Education.

“(It) is so blatantly aimed at the new superintendent,” Lux said. “People should be appalled and embarrassed that our government system would do this.”

Board member and Gary attorney Tony Walker said he’s supported alternate pathways to teaching dating back to his time of the board of KIPP LEAD College Prep Charter School.

“Programs like Teach For America take successful college graduates who bring enthusiasm to the classroom,” Walker said. “They’re very talented and bright, and some may have pedagogical issues but that can be worked out.

“It doesn’t force any school district to do anything. You can hire someone with higher qualifications. We want to attract top content people into the schools, perhaps mid-career professionals.”

Shawn Sriver, who is the accreditation and assessment coordinator at Ball State University’s Teachers College, said there’s a concern that the state is watering down the standards.

“I believe the concern is that people in the education community want to ensure teachers have best preparation possible,” Sriver said. “People in higher education believe that content is very important, but they also believe instruction — or pedagogy — which helps prepare a person in how to teach, is also very important.”

Lux said the changes are completely illogical, and knocked the department for failing to release the final language until Nov. 30.

“I view what they’ve just done as increasing disrespect for the profession,” Lux said. “It’s so incredibly contradictory and hypocritical to go out and expect teachers to achieve at higher levels — which they do — and raising achievement levels, yet they lower the standards of who are supposed to be hired. How can anybody not be blown away by the lack of logic?”



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