A state board gave preliminary approval on Thursday to a proposal that would revamp Indiana’s teacher licensing requirements despite reservations from some board members about the changes.
State schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has said teachers need a deep understanding of the subject they teach, but current requirements are too focused on teaching methods. He wants to change the way future teachers are trained and make it easier for people to become principals or superintendents.
The Professional Standards Advisory Board voted 15-4 to move Bennett’s plan forward. But some members said they needed more time to understand the reasons behind the changes, and even some who wanted to advance the proposal said the plan needs plenty of work.
“I have some serious reservations,” said board member Carrie Cate-Clements.
Bennett has said his proposals would improve teacher quality by requiring teachers to focus on subject matter. For instance, college students who want to become high school math teachers can now major in education and take few classes in math. Bennett’s proposal would require future teachers to major in a subject matter, such as math, and take a minor in education.
Bennett’s plan would also give schools more flexibility to hire principals and superintendents from outside traditional education channels.
Opponents worry the changes could weaken standards and lead to people with little education experience leading schools or districts. Some have objected to the state dictating how many teaching methods classes future teachers take.
Public testimony about the plan will be taken online and during at least three meetings around the state, officials said. One meeting will be planned for northern Indiana, one for Indianapolis and one for the southern part of the state.
The board will consider the public comments and can then change the proposal before it moves to the governor and other agencies for further approval. If approved, the changes would take effect in July.
Bennett said he appreciated the questions and comments people had about his proposal.
“Your input is necessary,” Bennett said.
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