Teaching license reforms spark controversy

Student, faculty member discuss the pros and cons of the changes

A controversial proposal made by the Indiana Department of Education to change teaching license rules has Ball State University students and professors calling for a revision.

The proposal, which was made July 29, includes the elimination of some required examinations and changes to the required credit hours for elementary and secondary education teachers.

Brian Hayes, a journalism education professor, said he agreed with teachers wanting to reform teacher licensing and education, but he does not agree with some of the changes that are being made. Hayes said changing the license status of courses, such as journalism, from being a standard license area to a workplace specialist area will devalue journalism as a course within the secondary education curriculum.

"I don't believe that by making that change it's going to improve journalism as a content area. In fact, I think it's going to weaken journalism," he said.

Journalism education will not be the only course affected. Hayes said the Indiana Department of Education also proposed changes in licensing structure for fine arts, health, physical education and library media.

Hayes said he agreed with adding more required courses for each area.

"I think students being required to take more classes on the content area, I don't think there's going to be anyone saying it's bad," he said.

However, Hayes said there are still some areas in the proposal that are unclear. He attended the last of three hearings Monday at the Indiana State Library. He said during the hearing a majority of the people that spoke said the proposal needed to be evaluated and changed in a way that would work. However, he is not convinced this will make officials slow the process.

"From reading the governor's quotes in the media, it doesn't seem as though they really care or want to listen to that," he said.

Another concern is the elimination of some basic education courses.

Senior education major Jenna Candiano said she did not agree with eliminating basic courses that are taught in the Teachers College.

"In my opinion, it's unfortunate they are taking some of these courses away," she said. "It limits the amount of training, and, in a way, it makes us feel unqualified."

She said some of the courses that would be eliminated in the Teachers College are important to the training of educators, because they help them learn how to teach.

Candiano said she thought the proposal was trying to make more jobs available. However, she said teachers would not be experienced enough.
As courses start to disappear, so would the jobs of professors teaching these courses, Candiano said.

"People work on Ph.D.s to teach these courses, but if the proposal is passed, there will be no need to hire them," she said.

The Indiana Department of Education made the proposal on July 29 — seven years after the last time an education license change was proposed.

Judy Miller, director of the Office of Teacher Education Services, said she was involved with the drafting of the last set of licensing rules.

Miller said she thought the current programs at Ball State actually align with the proposal; however, some adjustments may be needed after the final rules are decided.

Miller said there will likely be some changes before they are finalized, and that the Indiana Professional Standards Board will meet Nov. 18 to review the proposal and discuss revisions.

Hayes said the board has until the end of December to vote on the proposal.

Miller said the board has until April to adopt the finals rules, which will be implemented in July.


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