Thousands of teachers are starting the process of renewing their teaching licenses before a new law goes into effect that requires educators to learn more about workforce and career-related needs for their students and communities.
The new law requires teachers earn 15 of the 90 professional development points they need to renew their license, through workforce and career-navigation focused programs. Those could be earned through an “externship” with a company, or professional development opportunities that focus on career-navigation for students or economic and workforce needs.
The change stemmed from a set of recommendations approved by the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, a group of officials from various state agencies focused on unifying and advancing the state’s workforce development efforts.
Cabinet executive director PJ McGrew says the licensing change was the result of a push to strengthen partnerships with employers and raise awareness of community needs outside of schools.
“Just for the betterment of students so they can connect what they’re learning with things in the real world,” McGrew says.
McGrew says additional guidance and examples of how teachers could meet the requirement will come out soon. He says officials are working to offer at least one webinar ahead of the July deadline, and providing a list of how some schools may already be offering this type of professional development.
But Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith says many teachers feel blindsided by the change, and see it as an insult and added burden to their work. She says many already work to create community connections and experiences for their students.
“I’m not really sure what the whole point of it is. I think if there was an issue they could ask and we might actually already be addressing it,” she says.
Meredith says the process to change licensing rules is usually more drawn out, and this time teachers did not have adequate time or access to offer their input.
“At the end of the day it’s really about this just being one more thing piled on educators from people who are not educators, who didn’t ask educators,” Meredith says.
ISTA is pressing for lawmakers to change the new requirements, and at least one of them, Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) says he plans to revisit the requirements during next year’s legislative session.
Head says he’s not sure what the changes could look like yet, but is already focusing on which classrooms would benefit most from teachers learning more about workforce-related needs.
“When would the local job market be relevant? What teachers would that be relevant to, and trying to trim down the requirements of the bill that way,” he says.
The Indiana Department of Education says 4,608 licensing renewals were started over a five day period this month, with 1,739 more being started within a 24 hour period this week. The new law goes into effect July 1.