Archive for Friday, June 13, 2014

Editorial: Teacher options

Local school officials are smart to welcome the flexibility offered by changes in state teacher requirements.

June 13, 2014


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.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

The big picture tells me this is not about flexibility. This is about the ALEC GOP cutting corners to set up their vision of tax dollar supported private schools. Another nail in the coffin of public education which is the ultimate quest.

When considering their calculated endeavor to make our cookie jars look empty why would anyone support or trust their visions of educating our children?

Not only that SHOULD their reckless plans succeed parents will be busy reading all of the new textbooks. Why? Because altering the facts on many issues is at the top of the ALEC GOP list. Yes it is.

Dan Eyler 3 years, 9 months ago

Currently schools cannot hire a graduate with a masters degree in geometry to teach basic algebra because he/she doesn't have a teacher certificate. So instead these math experts sit in the private sector and comfort of their homes tutoring students. Just another failure of the public schools and the lobby of the public education union and their overwhelming concern for all those children.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

That would be because teaching is a skill beyond knowing the subject matter.

But I find your anecdote amusing. Please point to this massive supply of people with master's degrees in math that desire full time teaching work and are instead sitting at home tutoring people instead of earning money in careers in finance, cryptography, actuarial science, or computer science. Honestly, the way you spell it out "sitting in the comfort of their own home" sounds like the better option.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes, they can. They are given a provisional license and have to take education classes. I have had and worked for professors who were brilliant in their fields, but they were lousy teachers. There is more to teaching than knowing your subject, especially in secondary school. You have to understand how students learn. They will know nothing of differentiating their lesson plans to reach the smart kids and the struggling kids. They will assume that they could just lecture, lecture, lecture, and the students will take notes and listen. They will think that they can teach middle school students just like they would high school students. They will find out that they aren't allowed to let the kid who doesn't do their homework to fall through the cracks, like you can in college. You have to reach that kid too, and make sure they are understanding. They will have to figure out the hard way all the classroom management problems, like how can I arrange my classroom; how do I transition from one activity to another; will I have homework; will I grade all the homework or go over the homework in class; what is the best kind of assessment is most effective to measure what the students know; what do they mean by a valid test; what do I do when a student tells me he/she is being abused at home; what do I do when a fight breaks out in the hall; I have to monitor kids in the hall; etc. There is a whole lot more to teaching than knowing your subject. Some will take to it naturally; others will go running, screaming back to their previous business.

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