Archive for Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting a teaching license may become easier for some, but more expensive for all

May 19, 2014


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— Obtaining a teacher's license in Kansas is about to get a lot easier for those who teach in particular areas, but they will also become more expensive under plans being considered by the Kansas State Board of Education.

During its regular monthly meeting this week, the board received a staff report recommending either a $12 or $15 increase across the board to obtain an initial license or renew an existing one.

That would bring the cost to either $57 or $60 for a new license, and to either $66 or $69 for a renewal.

The fees are intended to cover the cost of operating the department's teacher licensure and accreditation program, but state officials told the board this week that the current fee structure falls short of the actual cost by about $200,000 a year.

The board is expected to decide on a new fee structure at its June meeting.

But the other big question looming for prospective teachers is about who will be eligible for a license, and what sort of qualifications they those applicants must have.

For the past several months, the board had been discussing a plan to open the door for people with training and professional experience in certain technical fields, as well as special education, to teach in public school classes without having to go through a university-based teacher preparation program.

After months of preparation, however, the Kansas Legislature stepped in last month and passed a law that goes even further in some areas by opening the door to people with bachelor's degrees and work experience in the so-called STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.

Under the law, which was part of the school finance bill that was meant to address a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling, people will no longer need an education degree from a college or university to teach at the secondary level if they meet one of three criteria:

• They have a valid out-of-state license and pass the licensure tests required by the state board.

• They have at least a bachelor's degree and at least five years of related work experience in the area of science, technology, engineering or math.

• Or they hold an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession and have at least five years of related work experience.

“The department was in middle of changing many of the licensing regulations anyway,” said Department of Education attorney Scott Gordon. “We were literally halfway through the process when the bill became law.”

Although the new law takes effect July 1, it also requires the state board to enact rules and regulations to implement them, a process that typically takes several months.

Meanwhile, state officials told the board Tuesday, news of the state's new law has already spread around the country, and school districts are already receiving applications from out-of-state teachers, and those with no teaching degree but professional work experience. And some districts are wondering which rules will go into effect, and when.

Lawrence school district officials said "are not seeing appreciably more out-of-state applicants than we normally do." They said 8.5 percent of current applicants list out-of-state addresses. And of 66 new hires to date, six have out-of-state addresses.

But Gordon said the department is hoping everything can be worked out by July 1.

The board voted Tuesday to submit its own proposed licensing changes for review by the Attorney General's Office and Department of Administration. And while those reviews are pending, Gordon said, the agency plans to draft another set of regulations reflecting the changes enacted by the Legislature.

Gordon said the hope is to have those changes enacted at least on a temporary basis by July 1, although the process of adopting permanent regulations could take longer.

But while those changes are pending, Gordon said, the agency advises local districts to be cautious about making hiring decisions.

“I always advise districts that they shouldn't hire anyone until they have a license in hand,” he said. “Sometimes you hire someone thinking they'll get a license, and then they don't. But we don't make hiring decisions. That's a risk of the local district.”


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

Under these new guidelines, principals and mentor teachers are going to be kept quite busy. There is more to teaching than knowing your subject. Classroom management and knowing how people learn is important too. Some of these people who come in without an education degree will do ok, because they are naturals. But many will find out that you can't teach middle school children as if they were college students. They will walk into a classroom and lecture, lecture, lecture, and wonder why their students aren't paying attention. How do you effectively organize your class, so that there are good transitions? Will these people even know what is meant by transition? Will they know how to address teaching ADHD kids or autistic kids, because those kids will be in their class? Will they know the different levels of autism. Will they be able to address different learning styles by differentiating their lesson plans? Do they even know what I mean when I say that? Principals and mentor teachers will have to do a lot more work to train these new teachers; training that is usually done in college education programs. Will the state provide money for the extra work mentor teachers have to do? They already have enough to do.

John Graham 4 years ago

Surely without doubt, allowing non-college trained teachers in math and science will ruin the greatest k-12 education system in the world. Oh that's right the US is not the greatest in the world. The US is not even in the top 20 in the world in either math or science based on international OECD testing. The current system doesn't appear to be doing all that great so trying another approach might be a good idea. Based on OECD world rankings it probably can't hurt.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

And surely we wouldn't want to look at the countries who are successful, because that would mean we might have to give teachers the professional status they deserve and pay them properly. It might mean we have to lower the class sizes. More money to do that? No way. It might mean we have to cut back on school based sports programs. We might have to teach some parenting skills to parents who denigrate education and take their kids out of school for vacation, or let their kids stay at home, because they are tired. it might mean that we tell TV shows that they can no longer make smart kids look so uncool, and the the cool kids are the non reading dummies. We might need to make celebrity worship passé. We might need to celebrate intelligent people, instead of calling them elitists. We might need to get more help teaching kids with developmental problems, and not test them for comparison testing like the other countries do. We might need to start allowing our kids to use their imagination, instead of learning how to take tests. Oops too many influential people are making big bucks off these tests. We might need to test our children at a young age, and if they are not academically talented, we might need to train them to be mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc. instead of sending them to a regular high school. We might have to promise students that if you work hard you will get to go to college whether or not you are poor, and rich kids who are lazy and want to party, cannot go to college, at least a state college. We have a society that does not value being educated. Most college students just want that piece of paper, so they can put it on their resume. This attitude is in the high schools too. And the attitude is even seeping down to elementary students too. Face it, we live in an anti-intellectual society, and until we change that, nothing you do in schools will work.

John Graham 4 years ago

Wow Dorothy, you pretty much throw everyone under the bus for the failings in the educational system. Your list of blame includes government, school boards, administrators, Hollywood, society in general, parents and even the students themselves. The one group you leave off your list is teachers. Apparently by your statement everyone is to blame except for teachers in this dysfunction. The teachers deserve to share in the blame along with everyone else one your list. You speak of all the great college training that is so important (transitions and differentiating their lesson plans for example) to making a teacher. Teachers also have union representation to work on their behalf for collectively bargaining practically all aspects of their job. Thus they have college education gained teaching skills that the average person doesn't possess and organized labor strength to support their job conditions. In summary while those on your list all deserve some level of blame for the failings of the education system in the US, the teachers must also step up to the plate and accept their portion of the blame as well. The system can't be significantly improved until all parties including the teachers accept the fact that they share in the blame for causing the problems.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

Teachers have been taking all the blame. Before I retired I had more than one parent at conferences tell me I gave their student a grade. I never gave grades, students earned them. This seems trivial, but it was an indication of who they considered responsible for their student's grade. Fortunately there were plenty of parents still out there who understand, but just try to give a failing grade to a star athlete or even to one whose parents think is a star athlete. Just try and follow through on punishment for plagiarism.

I was fortunate to work in a district where our knowledge was recognized and we were able to give our input into what the school needs, but there are a lot of districts out there where teachers, the experts, are dictated to. The teachers did not create this test, test, test environment. They know having students demonstrate what they know has nothing to do with filling in bubbles on a multiple choice test. But the politicians say jump through this hoop, and to keep the funding they have to jump through hoops held by politicians who know nothing about teaching, some do not even have a college degree.

John Graham 4 years ago

Once again you blame everyone but don't accept any of the blame as a teacher. You say parents blame you but you don't accept any part of the blame. Yes the politicians, administrators, parents and society as a whole share in the blame but so do you as a teacher.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

I am to blame if a student refuses to do their work? I am to blame if a student doesn't study for a test? Most of my students did quite well, but I am not going to take the blame for a lazy student. I give my students who made A's and B's credit, because they did the work to earn their grade. I don't take credit for that either.

John Graham 4 years ago

Dorothy if you would bother to actually pay attention to my posts before complaining you would see that I agree that the educational problem in the US has many factors to share in the blame of the mess that it is in. I am pointing out that while you listed a fairly exhaustive list of those at fault you failed to include the teachers. While they are not the sole source of blame they most certainly are part of it. Just like doctors are part of the blame for the healthcare mess in the US. There are many to blame from government, administrators, insurance, society, patients and yes doctors. Same with education.

John Graham 4 years ago

The above post referring to proving someone an "idiot" is in response to a derogatory post that has been deleted. It is not in reference to Dorothy or any post currently listed.

Sam Crow 4 years ago

John, maybe we will have to begin evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of teachers and pay them on their success, without rewarding the failures of others. Oops, Dot and the teachers unions will not allow that.

Maybe we should financially recognize the accomplishments of the excellent teachers, while eliminating the incompetent ones. Opps, Dot and the teachers unions will not allow that either. They say everyone must be paid equally according to union scale rather than production, like a UAW member working the assembly line.

Maybe we should adopt some things from other countries as in the book “Lessons from the Smartest Kids in the World”. Of course that may include limiting the number of teachers the education schools churn out like a factory, and making the degree harder to pursue and obtain, such as is done in Finland. There the entire culture of education was changed. But guess who is fighting that?

The teachers unions resist any change.

John Graham 4 years ago

Sam I agree with your points. I was simply replying to Dorothy blaming everyone under the sun for the current educational dysfunction. I agree that politicians, administrators, school boards and parents all have blame in the problem. What I was pointing out is teachers must accept some of the blame as well for the failure as all the other groups that Dorothy wants to blame. If the teachers want to claim any portion of the credit for the successes then they also need to accept a portion of the blame for the failures. Not all the blame but a portion.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

Ok, you come up with a fair way to evaluate effective teachers against failure teachers, that will be fair and not political. Standardized tests might be able to do that, but so what if your student memorized a bunch of facts. I can memorize all the parts of a car and ace a multiple choice test, but I wouldn't be able to repair one. I'm sorry you had so many terrible teachers. Where did you go to school? And be honest, Were they really terrible, or did they just set high standards of behavior and study that you weren't willing to meet? I know a lot of teachers who are not the "popular" teacher with students or parents, because they aren't easy A's. They expect students to behave with respect to them and to other students. But then, since you all are in the classrooms everyday, and you know everything that is going on, I guess I'm wrong.

John Graham 4 years ago

Most of my teachers were decent. Some were great and some were damn poor. The science teacher who showed 1950's science movies everyday so he could do leather craft at his desk instead of teaching was not so good. Neither was the English teacher that had the class "read" for the entire period 3 or 4 days a week so she could work on the yearbook instead of teaching senior English was not too good either. But both of those teachers had been in the district for more than a decade so there was no way they were going to get into trouble. Was I as the student to blame for these lazy teachers? That is the point Dorothy that you don't seem to want to accept. Sometimes it's the government's fault, sometimes the parents' fault, sometimes the students's fault and sometimes it is the teachers' fault.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

I agree there are a few teachers who are bad, but there is a way for the administration to get rid of these teachers. If they don't it is not the fault of the teachers who are doing their job or of their union. I'll bet those teachers you described received good evaluations every year. You can't give someone good evaluations, then fire them. It's not the union who evaluates teachers. My union will work with administrators to explain the process they must go through, but sometimes it's easier for administration to look the other way. But it's not fair to give up due process. Allowing a teacher to be fired just because a couple of parents don't like them or because they "give" an F to the principals lazy student won't get rid of bad teachers. It will get rid of teachers with high standards.

James Howlette 4 years ago

I'd absolutely be in favor of making a teaching degree harder to obtain and more in dept as they do in Finland. Of course, you realize that nearly all teachers in Finland belong to the union, right?

As for accountability - as soon as you can tease out the parts that happen in school from the parts that happen at home, I'm interested. All the proposed standards I've seen are basically incentives for teachers to take jobs at schools that teach rich white kids and avoid the at-risk schools. We can change our culture of education. Just don't change it into something worse for the sake of making a few bucks off of privatization.

Sam Crow 4 years ago

That is quite an in depth, well thought out, reasoned, and articulate comment.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years ago

You should look into the school system of Finland. I think we should be looking at why they are successful.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

USD 497 has implemented a "Blended Teaching" concept which is a huge change and far more practical. Let the new concept get off the ground.

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