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More unlicensed teachers could soon be in Indiana classrooms

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- There’s word that more unlicensed teachers could be teaching in your children’s schools. New legislation would allow school districts to fill up to ten percent of their staffs with teachers who aren’t licensed, all in an effort to deal with a statewide teacher shortage.

If Senate Bill 387 makes it to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk, it will let all Indiana public school districts fill up to ten percent of their teaching staff with unlicensed teachers for the next three years.

“It’s a small window to try to deal with the problem that we’re having,” said Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis), who sponsored the bill in the Indiana House.

Behning says too many teachers with education degrees are unable to pass the state licensing exam, making the current teacher shortage worse.

“Instead of recruiting harder, training harder, paying better salaries, our solution is to lower the requirements to be a teacher,” said Rep. Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis), an opponent of the bill who believes the state needs to do more to incentivize teachers to work and stay in Indiana. Delaney says those include better pay and training.

“So these are Band-Aids, they’re not fixing the problem,” said Delaney, “and they’re not improving overall our education.”

Charter schools are already allowed to hire unlicensed teachers for up to ten percent of their staff. Despite that, some parents we spoke to were uneasy with the idea.

“I feel like we have enough issues in some of our schools with some of the teachers who are licensed,” said parent Jackie Dungey.

But Behning says some parts of the bill do try to make it more appealing for teachers to start a career in Indiana.

“One of the things it’s doing to really address the teacher shortage is giving differential pay to teachers so it will actually allow teachers who are younger teachers to receive larger increases opposed to teachers who are more senior,” said Behning.

Lawmakers say there are still changes that need to be made to the bill, but Delaney said he expects it to make to the governor’s desk in some form.