New data show Indiana licensed fewer new teachers last year

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Department of Education data show the state’s teacher shortage continues with 21 percent fewer initial licenses issued during the 2014-2015 schools year than a year earlier.

The numbers were released Thursday, the same day as a meeting of an Indiana state commission tasked with finding out why the state has a teacher shortage. The 49-member Blue Ribbon Commission on the Recruitment and Retention of Excellent Educators is helping Indiana schools chief Glenda Ritz form ideas to take to lawmakers next year in an effort to increase the number of educators in the state.

The data also show that overall there has been a 33 percent drop in the number of initial practitioner licenses issued in Indiana since 2009.

Members of the commission shared ideas Thursday on why they think there are fewer teachers. Some said they think pay is an issue. Others thought potential teachers are worried about job security.

“I do think that some of the students are seeing their teachers themselves are working extremely hard, and there is a very much more rigid approach to instruction than perhaps might be most conducive to the learning process,” said Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of Purdue’s College of Education and co-chair of the commission.

Jeannette Melcic, who has taught science in Hammond for more than 20 years, asked the commission to find ways to encourage new teachers to consider teaching as a career.

“A lot of the younger teachers that I come into contact with, they don’t seem like they’re here for a teaching career — they’re here for a stepping stone,” Melcic said. “They’re getting loans paid off, they’re becoming administrators, they’re not there to teach for the long run.”

The commission is set to evaluate and rate teacher recruitment ideas on Oct. 5.

Separately, two GOP lawmakers plan an October meeting exploring why fewer teachers are being licensed.

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