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Indiana lawmakers discuss changes to mandated teacher training

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some Indiana lawmakers believe more required training for teachers is too difficult to manage. They are now looking at ways to reduce or streamline those mandates.

Lawmakers say that beyond educating children, Indiana teachers have a lot on their plates.

“I certainly believe that we are requesting too much of teachers. But, schools have always been used to cure the ills of society,” State Rep. Vernon Smith, a Democrat from Gary, said Tuesday.

State Rep. Tony Cook, a Republican from Cicero, said teachers are required to be trained on suicide prevention, domestic violence and human trafficking, bloodborne pathogens, and criminal organization to name a few.

In fact, Cook said he received an email earlier Tuesday from Carmel Clay Schools Superintendent Michael Beresford saying they just added to their training requirements.

“The homeless, Stop the Bleed and the epilepsy were 180 minutes of webinar time this week at Carmel,” Cook said. “So specifically, (this) points to what I think is becoming a growing issue for schools (which) is how to manage all the time.”

“What we’re tasked with, in my opinion, is to take a look at what we can continue to put on the backs of teachers as we go,” State Sen. Jeff Raatz, a Republican from Centerville said. Raatz is also chairman of the Interim Study Committee on Education.

People at the committee meeting believe the required training is important, but one theme kept coming up: flexibility for teachers.

“Who needs the training, where, when, how is it going to be delivered? Who is going to deliver it?” Robin LeClaire, asked. LeClaire is director of school imrovement for the Indiana Department of Education. “I have a concern that these trainings not be vendor-driven when these mandates are written, but they be needs-driven, based on schools and not needs on what vendors can provide them.”

LeClaire wants educators to have a seat at the table.

“I encourage you to hear the voices of the people involved in the training as you make these decisions,” LeClaire added.

Lawmakers asked the Department of Education to put out a survey and figure out which flexibility options educators might want. On the stand, LeClaire told lawmakers the department is ready to help.

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