Licensing more people to teach

The Kansas State Board of Education has given its approval to plans to implement part of Governor Sam Brownback’s controversial education reform.

Despite the threat by the state’s largest teachers union it will take the plan to court.

The decision means people with relevant work experience, but not a specific teaching degree, can obtain a license to teach in Kansas high schools.

The idea seems simple, increase the number of teachers by taking skilled people and putting them in the classroom, even if they don’t have a teaching certificate.

The board says it can be done, as long as that teacher is qualified and licensed by the state.

“You know we have, even in some areas in the state where schools are wanting to offer some classes in that we don’t even have anybody applying,” Interim Commissioner Brad Neuenswander said.

The need is especially critical in science, math and technology.

It’s especially critical in finding vocational education instructors, auto shop and culinary courses.

“We believe it’s important to know not only what to teach but how to teach,” Vice President of KNEA Mark Farr said.

That’s why the Kansas National Education Association is challenging the bill in court.

They’re also concerned about how the governor’s $129 million attached to the bill will be spent.

“In that bill, log rolled together with appropriations was multiple policies pieces that we believe are bad for kids in the classroom across the state of Kansas,” Farr said.

Despite the threat, the board of education approved a series of steps which will make it easier for people to get a teaching license.

You just need to have a degree in the subject matter and have five years of experience.

“School districts really need some of those high level expertise people to come in and teach a few classes,” Neuenswander said.

The license will be valid to teach grades 8 through 12 for one year.

House Bill 2506  goes into effect on July 1st, barring a court order stopping it.

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