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Teachers war with state over whether licensure is needed

The Indiana State Board of Education approved a controversial teaching specialist permit that licensed teachers are decrying as an “experiment on children.” The approval of the permit provides a way for individuals to teach high school students without a teaching degree.

On September 3 in Fort Wayne, the ISBE members who voted for the career specialist permit, 7-3, stated that they think the permit would allow schools individually to determine if a nontraditional teacher with specific expertise is needed in the classroom, “We give a lot of lip-service to local control of public schools and I see this issue as an opportunity to reinforce and affirm our great school principals, great school board and great superintendents to make that decision for allowing people to have a pathway into the profession,” said board member David Freitas.

Board member Glenda Ritz was one of the dissenting votes. Ritz, a former state superintendent of public instruction, stated that the specialist permit “lacked accountability” since there is not a way to keep track of permit-holders and compare their standard of teaching with that of teachers that have obtained traditional licenses.

Teachers have gone even further with their outrage, saying the move devalues their profession and the education of children, “It doesn’t mean they can hit the first day running,” Terry Spring, a high school teacher said of those have a high paying job that may desire to become a medium-salaried teacher.

The permit is one of many proposed rules that are expected to be signed off by Governor Mike Pence before December 31. The set of rules is being referred to by law-makers as REPA III (rules for educator preparation and accountability).