Each year, Hoosier parents entrust their children’s education to our teachers. Given that teachers have the tremendous responsibility of helping shape our children’s futures, it is imperative that we have great teachers and continue to support them.
Due to a variety of reasons, Indiana, like many other states, continues to face a teacher shortage. According to State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick, in early 2018, we were filling 3,000 teaching positions across the state with long-term substitute teachers who don’t need to pass any exams or receive licenses to teach.
To help promptly increase the amount of qualified teachers in our schools, the General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 387 this year, which establishes new criteria for professionals with real-world experience to receive Career Specialist teaching permits. These permits allow highly qualified individuals in a given field to teach that subject, even if they don’t meet the typical teaching requirements.
Each school district can decide whether or not to hire a candidate with a Career Specialist permit, but with the flexibility to do so, schools have more pathways available to ensure they have enough qualified teachers to fulfill their needs.
In addition, to help make sure Indiana schools are filled with passionate educators in the future, my fellow lawmakers and I passed legislation in 2016 to create the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship, which establishes 200 scholarships that pay up to $7,500 annually for students who commit to teaching in Indiana for five years after their college graduation. The positive effects of a great teacher can last well into adulthood, and benefits like this scholarship will help keep those great teachers in our state and in our classrooms.
To qualify for the scholarship, students must either graduate in the highest 20 percent of their high school class or earn a score in the top 20 percent on the SAT or ACT.
As legislators, we recognize the important role teachers play in our communities. With the help of the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship and the Career Specialist teaching permits, I look forward to seeing more of Indiana’s top students and experienced professionals committing to teaching the next generation of Hoosiers.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other topics, contact my office by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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