New state regulations that will allow local school districts to hire teachers without education degrees almost certainly have some potential pitfalls, but they also have potential benefits — and it’s good to see that Lawrence school officials are looking at those benefits.
Lawrence school Superintendent Rick Doll told the Journal-World last week that the new regulations may be particularly helpful when the district starts hiring teachers for its new College and Career Center. It will open the door to people who have particular expertise in specific subject areas even if they don’t have education degrees.
“I’m not one of those who believes someone can walk in off the street and teach,” he said. “On the other hand, I’m open to the fact that most people can be trained.”
The legislation that spurred the new teacher regulations drew sharp criticism from some teacher groups, including the Kansas National Education Association, because of fears it would allow unqualified people in the classroom. That obviously would be a negative result, but the flip side of that argument is that it provides district’s some flexibility to hire people with specific skills and qualifications and then fill in the training they need to succeed as teachers.
According to the new regulations, people without education degrees could qualify to teacher if they meet one of three requirements: (1) they have a valid out-of-state license or pass a Kansas licensing test (2) they have at least a bachelor’s degree and five years of work experience in the area of science, technology, engineering or math or (3) they hold an industry-recognized certificate and have at least five years of experience in a technical profession.
It’s obvious that not everyone belongs in a classroom, but it’s also true that some people who didn’t pursue education degrees are natural teachers who, with a little training and supervision, could be a real asset to the district. It’s nice to see that local school officials are open to the possibility of capitalizing on some of that teaching talent.