The Indiana Department of Education says it is expanding its efforts to recruit and retain teachers throughout Indiana. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz says the department will implement recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission, which were released in January. The IDOE says the recommendations have already led to the creation of the Indiana Center on Teacher Quality at Indiana University, a full-time department position to support teachers and additional resources.
The IDOE has also named 2016 Teacher of the Year Jean Russell the state’s Teacher Ambassador. She will promote and support the profession.
Ritz says it will take a comprehensive effort, including legislation, to combat a 30 percent drop in licensure and a 30 percent decrease in people entering the profession. "We have shortage areas, special education is one of them, we have other shortage areas that have been identified and schools struggle with getting the certified, licensed personnel that they need for some of our courses. So, it’s imperative, really, that we begin this work in earnest and begin to address the issues in a systematic way. We can’t just put in a little fix here and there. We really have to look at it from the large picture. Making sure that all elements are in place to have great educators."
Ritz has endorsed the full slate of recommendations by the committee and adds some could not be implemented "because of inaction from Governor Pence and the General Assembly." She says she will fight to have recommended items not completed by the 2016 General Assembly added next session.
The Indiana Center on Teacher Quality was created with a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The center aims to address the shortage of special education teachers. The goal of the newly-created full-time position within the IDOE is to support the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission.
The IDOE says the state has seen a more than 30 percent decline in the number of people receiving first-time teaching licenses. The Blue Ribbon Commission was formed to reverse that trend. You can view the commission’s full report below: