INDIANAPOLIS - The State Board of Education approved new rules Wednesday for teacher licensing that make it easier for college graduates without education degrees to get jobs in Indiana classrooms.
The board voted 7-3 to approve the new standards, which reduce requirements for "career specialist" permits for such applicants.
Supporters of the new rules say they will make it easier to attract people with expertise in areas such as math and science to classrooms. But teachers unions and others say that the new rules will reduce the quality of education.
Everyone who testified on the issue Wednesday spoke against the changes, which take effect immediately.
John Jacobson, dean of the Ball State Teachers College, argued that similar efforts to lower standards in other states, including Texas, did not successfully attract more teachers.
"It did not result in any more qualified candidates," Jacobson said.
Former Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett began the push for an overhaul in 2009 in part as a way to bring in alternative teaching groups such as Teach for America.
Wednesday's vote came as a group of Democratic activists ended a separate roughly year-long legal battle against the Republican-appointed board members.
Lawyer Bill Groth announced that the board had agreed to pay $15,000 in legal fees as part of a settlement approved Wednesday. The board members also agreed not to violate the state's open meetings law in the future.
Plaintiffs alleged the board violated Indiana's open meetings law last year when members sought to move the calculation of the "A-F" school grades to the General Assembly in the wake of last year's grade-changing scandal. Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz originally filed the lawsuit against the other board members, but the attorney general successfully argued she did not have standing to bring a suit against other state officials without his approval.
The lawsuit is one of many skirmishes that led U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to decry Indiana's "deep, deep dysfunction" among education leaders.
"It's unfortunate that a frivolous lawsuit like this one wasted so much time and energy that would have been better spent focusing on the needs of Indiana's students," Democratic board member Gordon Hendry said in a statement.
GOT MILK? What drivers drink in Victory Circle
Here's what this year's drivers have requested for their sweet, sweet victory nectar.
TRAFFIC: Plan your 500 Festival Parade route
If you're heading to the 500 Festival Parade on Saturday afternoon -- or if you're going somewhere else and trying to avoid traffic…
INDY 500: Glampers live in luxury's lap at IMS
Droves of race fans made their way to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield in the dark early Friday to begin a weekend…
HUGE: 8 things that can fit inside IMS
How big is Indianapolis Motor Speedway? It's huge.
Police release new video of fatal hit-and-run
Police are still looking for the driver of an SUV that left the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash earlier this month.