Indiana Senate Considers Bill to Expand Educator Workforce

The Indiana Senate is in the process of retooling a new bill that would allow unlicensed teachers to instruct students in Indiana public schools. The state is currently in the midst of a severe teaching shortage and is attempting to quickly curtail the teaching deficit before the problem worsens.

Indiana has fallen behind in its quest to attract educators. Indiana schools find it hard to compete with neighboring states like Illinois, Ohio and Michigan that pay teachers a higher average starting salary. Many students have opted for majors in better-paying fields or have decided to choose a career with more prestige. Many schools have been trying to lure former teachers out of retirement to fill the gaps; they have also allowed licensed substitute teachers to transition to full-time teaching.

Indiana’s state government has been concerned about the teaching shortage since 2016 when a Learning Policy Institute study listed Indiana as one of the five worst states for teacher recruitment and retention. State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick announced in 2017 that the government would adopt additional measures to attract more educators. These efforts include loosening teaching standards to access a larger pool of potential teachers. McCormick particularly wanted to utilize student teachers who have completed all their requirements, but are unable to teach due to poor scores on their licensing exams.

Senator Andy Zay of Huntington began working on a legislative solution in early January. Senate Bill 387 mandates that 90% of teachers must be either fully licensed or in the process of obtaining their teaching license. Also, the bill allows 10% of the teachers in each school to be unlicensed. If the bill is signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb, it will go into effect immediately.

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