The Senate Education Committee followed the lead of the House Education Committee and approved changes to rules that will allow an easier path to the classroom for individuals who have not completed teacher preparation programs. In an effort to provide flexibility for districts struggling to attract and retain qualified teachers, the committee agreed with the State Board of Education’s proposal.
The IEA testified against the most egregious section of the rules, which enables districts to hire individuals as classroom teachers if they have subject matter expertise and agree to enroll in courses related to pedagogical instruction. In the past, the rule required that minimally, the individual seeking to teach was required to begin the pedagogical study prior to becoming a classroom teacher through an alternative route. The new rule allows the individual to enter the classroom with no prior pedagogical training and instead begin taking courses within the first year in the classroom. The certificate is renewable for two additional years, should the teacher need additional time to complete studies.
The IEA is concerned that the new policy will degrade the value of teaching certificates obtained by professional educators who have dedicated time, effort and resources to completing full-scale teacher preparation study and training. There is also concern about the vague nature of many of the terms and concepts relating to the new rule, including “emergency need”, “content specialist”, and “highly and uniquely qualified”.
Senator Janie Ward-Engelking was the lone dissenting vote on the committee, pointing out that the loosening of standards is not consistent with the goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Education Excellence, which is to ensure that there are highly qualified teachers in every classroom and for every student. Ward-Engelking served on the task force that crafted those goals and recommendations.