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October 31, 2009

Debate heats up over revamped teacher license rules

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University President Dan Bradley is encouraging the state Department of Education to suspend proposed changes to teacher licensing rules. Instead, he is asking officials at the DOE to work with the educational community “to bring about serious and systemic change.”

Bradley submitted his comments to Tony Bennett, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, on Thursday. Bradley joins many other educators in Indiana who have raised concerns about the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability (REPA). The changes would affect ISU’s Bayh College of Education, which prepares future teachers.

Bennett wants to eliminate what he has described as burdensome regulations not proven to improve teacher quality.

According to information released by the DOE last week, “Current regulations waste teachers’ time and money, but are not effective in the goal of making them better teachers.”

Some of the proposed revisions drawing criticism include:

n Individuals with no classroom experience could be licensed to become school superintendents.

n For prospective teachers, the changes would place more emphasis on content or subject knowledge, and lessen the required coursework in teaching methods.

The rules set maximum credit hours of methods instruction for education majors (no more than 30 credit hours) and education minors (no more than 18 credit hours).

Some educators have doubts

In his letter, Bradley outlines his concerns:

n The credit hours “maximums” for professional education and pedagogy (methods instruction), which “greatly restrict” the institution’s ability to deliver quality educational programming. For example, teacher preparation must include field experiences in classrooms prior to student teaching. ISU suggests that credit hour “maximums” be replaced with “minimums.”

n Principals, directors and superintendents should be required to complete approved programs in educational administration for the appropriate level. Essential educational experiences, such as teaching, “should be required and not waived if school and district leaders are to demonstrate a systemic understanding of education.”

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    March 12, 2010