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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:00 am

Panel open to tweaking teacher ed

Legislators discuss easing outside training mandates

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers on Tuesday considered ways to reduce the amount of outside training required of teachers and other school employees.

This came only months after the General Assembly added three more required training topics – seizure awareness, how to stop bleeding and human trafficking.

Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond, said the issues that various training requirements cover are all important, “but somewhere we have to draw the line.” He noted legislators continue to put more on the backs of teachers.

Testimony given Tuesday at the Interim Study Committee on Education is that there are now 21 mandatory training requirements. They include bullying, autism, CPR, child abuse, gangs and suicide. Some training is required annually; some only once; and some every two, three or five years.

Robin LeClaire, director of school improvement for the Indiana Department of Education, said the training should be driven by schools and communities and be meaningful instead of being just a box to check off. She suggested lawmakers be more flexible in allowing districts to control the timing and frequency of the training.

“One size does not fit all,” LeClaire said.

She also noted that teachers don't receive pay for the training, although training can be used as professional growth points in the licensure process.

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, said he fears making the training optional – noting teachers or districts might choose classes only if they are convenient. And he said CPR and seizure training is needed everywhere – not just at some schools. 

But Smith said some of the topics could be combined – for instance, human trafficking information could be included in child abuse and neglect training.

Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, asked LeClaire to come back with specific recommendations on training that could be reduced or altered in some way. He and others also offered the idea of making the training part of re-licencing every five years.

“We appreciate the intentions,” said J.T. Coopman, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “However, over time we have added more and more mandatory training with no consideration on the time it takes and the cost involved.”