Indiana board approves teacher license changes

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A state board has approved changes to Indiana's teacher licensing requirements despite arguments from opponents that the new rules could hurt the quality of classroom instruction.

The State Board of Education voted 9-2 Wednesday in favor of the rule changes supported by outgoing Republican state schools superintendent Tony Bennett. Incoming superintendent Glenda Ritz had asked the board to delay action until after she takes office next month.

The new rules make it easier for college graduates to obtain teacher licenses without completing teacher training programs. Supporters disagreed with claims they would hurt teacher quality and said local school districts would still control whom they hire as teachers.

Ritz defeated Bennett in last month's election after campaigning against many of the school changes he has pushed over the last few years.

Ritz statement

Today, the Indiana State Board of Education held a meeting to address a number of issues that have raised concern from educators across the state. Superintendent-Elect Glenda Ritz requested that the board table all action items until she takes office, but her request was denied. The following is her statement.

"Earlier this week, as part of my transition with only 27 business days until I take office, I respectfully requested through Dr. Bennett, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, that all action items coming before the State Board of Education be tabled until after I take office. I wanted more time to review items, gather appropriate input, have a better understanding of the fiscal impact of these items, and to work with the members of the Board. My request was denied.

"Historically, it is only common courtesy to put all pending items on hold until a new administration takes office and has time to review, ask questions and improve the content as well as the process. There is no need to push through policies that haven't been reviewed by the incoming administration.

"Regardless of the actions taken today by the outgoing Superintendent, My transition team is focused on working with the Department of Education's staff for a smooth, professional, and efficient transition, one that the voters, schools, parents, and children expect and deserve.

"I look forward to working with the members of the Board of Education to shape rules and policies that are focused on teacher quality, improving literacy, establishing realistic growth models, and ensuring that Hoosier taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.

Earlier version

Republican Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett will get the chance to sign off on changes to Indiana's teacher certification and licensing process before leaving office.

The State Board of Education will consider changes to how teachers qualify to teach a subject area like math or English and who can serve as a school administrator. The board is scheduled to vote on changes to the licensing process Wednesday. Bennett chairs the board.

Democrat Glenda Ritz upset Bennett in last month's election after campaigning against many of the measures he and other Republicans pushed over the last few years. Bennett is now in the running to head Florida's school system.

Bennett opponents have asked the board to hold off approving the changes until Ritz takes control of the board.

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