Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would like to create alternative pathways to allow people who have “real-life experience” to become teachers as opposed to pursuing a traditional teaching license.
The plan involved a single sentence in a press release that also involved other initiatives to help create jobs in high-demand areas. The plan, part of the Workforce Readiness Imitative, would allow a teaching candidate to bypass taking and passing college-level education courses and instead offering anyone with a bachelor’s degree the opportunity to become a teacher as long as they can prove competency in the area they wish to teach, writes Negassi Tesfamichael for The Daily Cardinal.
The license would only be valid for three years, applying to grades 6-12.
The statewide teachers union has criticized the proposal and was joined by the lobbyist for a group representing school principals, superintendents and other administrators.
“We’ve got some significant concerns about its philosophical underpinning,” said John Forester, lobbyist for the School Administrators Alliance.
Forester went on to say that what truly helps schoolchildren to succeed is the high-quality preparation would-be teachers receive in those college courses. He continued, saying the proposal “bypasses the skill of being able to teach in an understandable way to children.”
Betsy Kippers, a Racine teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, noted there are already alternative methods to becoming a teacher in the state that require candidates to participate in classes on how to be an effective teacher.
“Every child should have a caring, qualified and committed teacher with a solid background in how to teach, along with what to teach,” Kippers said in a statement.
If Walker’s proposal were to pass, the state Department of Public Education would need to create a competency exam.
“The critical need for Wisconsin educators at this very moment is an increase in respect and support for their profession. You need more than textbook knowledge to be the kind of teacher that connects with students and helps all kids learn. Like a skilled surgeon or a master electrician, high-quality teaching requires both skills and content knowledge,” said DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy.
McCarthy went on to say that finding qualified teachers requires more effort than simply making being licensed in the state an easier process, and that increasing the number of licensed teachers in the state “only addresses one side of the equation when it comes to finding and retaining the best teachers.”
Currently, teachers are subject to a comprehensive process to receive a teaching license in the state, which places importance on ensuring teachers fully understand their subject matter, along with the best way to teach it to children. Continuing education requirements are also in place in order to maintain the license after receiving it, writes Andrew Beckett for WRN.
The alternative methods already in place in Wisconsin typically require some sort of previous teaching experience or are limited to high-needs areas.