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Law addresses teacher shortage E-mail
Thursday, 12 June 2014 11:33

By Topeka Capital-Journal, June 8


When Kansas’ public schools open their doors in August, it’s possible some students in grades 8 through 12 will be introduced to a teacher who has no classroom experience and hasn’t been trained for the job.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The 2014 Legislature passed a law that allows school districts to hire professionals to teach science, math, technology, engineering and finance in grade 8 through 12. The professional must have a bachelor’s degree in the subject he or she will teach and five years of work experience in that field. Schools also can hire as teachers for vocational education classes people who have earned an industry-recognized certificate that verifies their skills and have at least five years of work experience in their field.

Some schools have difficulty hiring science, math, technology and engineering teachers and vocational education instructors. The law will help schools solve that problem and will put in the classrooms professionals who can give students the benefit of their experience in the field as well as the theory.

Granted, not all professionals will be suited to the classroom experience. But not everyone who comes out of college with a degree in education is suited to the classroom experience, either.

Effective teaching requires a blend of knowledge and skills, and that blend is not limited to people with teaching degrees. There’s no reason to believe students wouldn’t enjoy learning from someone who had actual experience in a field the students were considering as a career.

Some professionals will learn the classroom isn’t for them. That’s fine, a teaching contract isn’t a multiyear commitment. Other professionals might excel in the classroom. That’s a win for everyone involved.

The communications director for the Kansas National Education Association thinks people can’t teach effectively without the proper education in teaching, learning theory and classroom management strategies.

The Kansas Association of School Boards supports the changes, however, and its lobbyist thinks school districts can be trusted to determine if a job candidate would be a good teacher.

We think hiring professionals for difficult-to-fill teaching positions is worth a try and may prove to be a great idea.

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