The House Education Committee approved a rule proposed by the State Board of Education, despite strong testimony and encouragement from the IEA to reject it. A portion of the rule makes it possible for an individual holding a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher before first working with the hiring district and a college or university to develop a plan and begin the process of implementing training to become fully certified.
School districts across Idaho continue to report difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers; the SBE representative told lawmakers the newly approved rule is designed to allow school districts more flexibility in filling teaching vacancies.
IEA Director of Public Policy Matt Compton testified against the portion of the rule that addressed alternative routes to certification. He urged legislators to reject that section of the rule, and instead revert back to the practice of requiring an individual interested in being hired to teach to have at least completed 8 to 16 weeks of study prior to entering the classroom.
The new rule allows districts to hire individuals whom they deem “highly and uniquely qualified” and put them in a classroom immediately, with an understanding that the individual will pursue and complete the required training concurrently beginning their first year of teaching. As is currently the case, extensions for two additional years to complete the requirements can be granted.
Representative Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) was among those with questions about the wisdom of the rule. “I am concerned that this bypass mechanism could become the norm,” she said. Other legislators favored the rule because of its flexibility to allow districts, especially those in rural areas, to fill vacancies that attract very few candidates.
The IEA is sympathetic to the dilemma that some districts face as a result of Idaho’s teacher shortage, but believes that shortcuts to certification do a disservice to both students and the professional educators who have committed their time and resources to becoming fully-qualified, certified teachers. “Let’s do what we can during this session to get us out of this state of emergency,” Compton urged the committee.
The Senate Education Committee will review the rule on Tuesday.