Kansas considers out-of-state teacher licenses

The Kansas Department of Education has applied for a grant to study a proposal that includes making it easier for out-of-state teachers to become licensed in Kansas.

The Council of Chief State School Officers, a national organization of state education agency officials, issued a report last year listing 10 recommendations for how states could improve the teaching profession. One of those calls for allowing teacher reciprocity across state lines, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

“Any new licensure system must take into account the fact that new generations of workers anticipate having multiple careers across their lifetime,” the report stated. “Education policy needs to accommodate career changers and create flexibility that allows them to become an education professional without undue burdens.”

The council has made grants available to states to study implementing the recommendations.

Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said the education department is applying for one of those grants, but she said the grant application would not commit the state to changing any of its licensing regulations.

The grant, if approved, “would give us the opportunity to study all 10 recommendations,” DeBacker said in an e-mail. “Reciprocity is one of the recommendations but even with that, the study does not define the degree of reciprocity.”

Some higher education officials say expanding “reciprocity” of teaching licenses could water down the quality of prospective teachers because many other states have less stringent criteria for entering the profession.

“The issue here is reciprocity, that every state will accept teachers trained in every other state, a process that will drop to the least common denominator,” said Richard Schrock, a biology education professor at Emporia State University.

Sally Roberts, assistant dean at the Kansas University School of Education, which endorsed the state department’s grant application, said she is less pessimistic about expanding reciprocity.

“Just having a teaching license doesn’t guarantee a job,” Roberts said. “Principals can look at their transcript. The few that might come in from a less strenuous state still have to go through the rigor of competing with other individuals that are going to be better prepared.”