Cook: Local school districts know what works best for them

Posted by: Andi TenBarge  | Thursday, February 13, 2020

Our teachers and schools spend countless hours working with young Hoosiers, helping to prepare them for bright futures. As our talented educators take on this vital responsibility, they are also met with copious mandates that can take them away from teaching in the classroom. Because local school districts understand what works best for them, I am co-authoring a bill that gives them more flexibility and streamlines teacher licensing requirements.

Currently, school districts have to comply with more than 1,200 pages of laws and regulations. To help ease the burden, House Bill 1003 would empower local schools to identify which education requirements work best for local districts and apply for a waiver with the State Board of Education to lift or streamline certain mandates. Since the needs of Hoosiers are growing and changing, schools need to have the flexibility to decide what education requirements work best for them to meet the needs of their students.

This legislation also tasks SBOE to evaluate the number of trainings teachers are required to complete. Many of these trainings were made with good intention, but have become increasingly burdensome. A recent survey conducted by the Indiana Department Education found only 35% of Hoosier teachers believed a mandated training on gang violence was critical to their roles. Under proposed legislation, the SBOE could merge trainings together or recommend others that need to be eliminated.

Though this legislation, teachers would have more flexibility when it comes to renewing their licenses. Educators can choose 1 of 4 paths in the license renewal process. One option is the Professional Growth Plan where educators must earn 90 hours or points over five years. This legislation would no longer require teachers to obtain 15 of those hours through professional development related to their community’s workforce needs. While learning about employment opportunities would be beneficial for students, it may not be suitable for all teachers in all grade levels. 

Indiana is home to some of the best schools with talented educators who want to help shape the next generation of Hoosiers. However, they are met with numerous mandates that have become increasingly burdensome. With more flexibility and streamlined licensing requirements, schools would have the freedom to decide how they want to meet the needs of students.

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State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32, which includes all of Tipton County

and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.