INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide scholarships to Hoosiers transitioning into teaching from other careers.
House Bill 1528 passed in the House unanimously and is now being considered by a Senate committee.
“The teacher shortage is very real,” said Laura Hammack, superintendent of Beech Grove City Schools.
Indiana’s online education job board shows more than 1,400 open teaching positions as of Wednesday.
School officials say they’ve seen more Hoosiers leaving the profession and fewer people coming in.
“We typically would see sometimes hundreds of applications for elementary teacher positions in Beech Grove, and that has just dwindled,” Hammack said.
Although most applicants still come from an education background, Hammack said, her district has hired a growing number of teachers who have transitioned from other professions.
“We’ve seen a lower number of students choosing to study education as their field in college and at the same time, a decrease in the number of people considering going to college,” said Carey Dahncke, executive director of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis. “And so we’ve shifted trying to look at how do we lure people from other professions into teaching.”
A Statehouse proposal aims to increase the number of those kinds of applicants.
State Rep. Dave Heine (R-New Haven) has introduced a bill that would provide scholarships of up to $10,000 for Hoosiers who enroll in transition-to-teaching certification programs.
“They have their financial obligations,” Heine said. “They have kids at home.”
To be eligible, you would have to already hold a four-year degree and be employed by a school. You would also be required to commit to teaching in an Indiana school district for at least five years.
“In this way, I can continue to work, get my degree and then I can be a full-time teacher,” Heine said.
Some school officials say they believe hiring teachers from other fields will become increasingly common in the years to come.
“We certainly hired a number of teachers from transition-to-teaching programs really in all content areas,” said Harold Olin, superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation. “So I’m actually appreciative of the General Assembly for thinking about us.”
The program would be capped at $1 million for these scholarships in the first two years, but Heine said he hopes to expand that funding in the future if the bill becomes law.