There is a shortage of medical doctors in rural Western Kansas. Why not allow pharmacists, nurses and veterinarians practice medicine?

Presume that we have a shortage of lawyers as well. Why not let policemen practice law?

We don’t. It would “de-professionalize” these fields. But this is what was proposed at the March Kansas State Board of Education (KSBE) meeting. And it will come to a vote at their April 16 meeting.

In 2012, Governor Brownback signed into law House Bill 2319 creating the “Kansas Coalition of Innovative School Districts (CISD).” This allows “... up to ten percent of the state’s school districts [28], at any one time, to opt out of most state laws and rules and regulations in order to improve student achievement.” An additional 10 percent of USDs can join if they are Title I priority schools.

Currently there are only a small number of schools in the CISD. That will rapidly change if they get their request.

Proposals to allow school districts to hire persons without teaching credentials come from two completely different school districts. The proposal from the affluent Blue Valley USD 229 is laden with “innovation spaces” and “digital learning centers.” This district pays well. It has no difficulty recruiting and keeping good teachers.

Reading between-the-lines is the fact that elite private college-prep schools in Kansas do hire college graduates that lack teaching credentials but have a major in the field they will teach. These teachers working in high-tuition, high-salary collegiate schools are turning out high school graduates who are performing quite well. They turn out the best because they only take the best.

On the opposite pole is the rationale from the Hugoton District that represents the completely different plight of the majority of Kansas rural school districts. Asking for “teacher licensure freedom,” Hugoton bases its request to hire-at-will based on the many problems of recruiting qualified teachers to rural Kansas.

It asserts: “We want complete and total freedom from the overbearing KSDE licensure requirement.” It speaks to the various tentative fixes, the high cost of tuition, their need to appear at Topeka Review Boards, and other burdens that remain under the conditional (one year), restricted (Transition-to-Teaching and alternate route), interim alternative, and provisional endorsement programs.

Another benefit seen by little rural schools is that switching the granting of licensure to local school districts also allows them to hold the new teacher captive to that district — their local “grow your own” model would not allow these local teachers to transfer their local “license” elsewhere in the state.

Both the Blue Valley “innovative program” argument and the Hugoton “can’t get qualified teachers” argument boil down to asking the State Board to “trust us” to have good people in the classroom even if they are not licensed as teachers.

Both sides will address this issue at the 10:30 a.m. open forum at the next KSBE meeting in Topeka, Thursday, April 16. The KSBE will vote that afternoon.

If approved, Kansas will become the very first state to de-professionalize teaching.


(1) comment


An Open Letter to the State Board:
Having learned of your intention to employ uncertified and untrained teachers, I wish to congratulate you on your bold move. I am a certified teacher with over 10 years' teaching experience in different parts of the world, including USA; and I can assure you that teacher certification and teacher training are a hindrance to education, because we are wasting a lot of money, time, and efforts in certification and training, that we are thereby reducing teaching efficiency and hindering the process of education. I am a certified teacher with a professional educators certificate for Math (Grades 6-12) from Florida, but my certification and training did absolutely nothing for me or my students. The only thing that helped me was discussing with other teachers about what works and what does not.
I have often said, "Give me the lowest rated teachers in the United States, and an average school and within three years, we will make it the highest performing school in that State, by the grace of God".
I believe, as do other educators in different parts of the world, that if a teacher knows the subject then he/she can teach. Any training required can be done on the job, after the teacher begins teaching by utilizing mentor-teachers
Parents look upon certification and training as a guarantee of quality, but they are wrong.
I hope you will be able to push this much needed reform through and I hope other States learn from you.
Best Regards
Frank Luke
C: 321.544.9590

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