Kansas could allow five public school districts designated as innovative districts to hire unlicensed individuals for teaching positions.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports (http://bit.ly/1ObNCmN ) that the State Board of Education plans to vote Thursday on a proposal drafted by the districts. The plan would permit unlicensed personnel to teach in classrooms or to teach subjects for which they are not licensed. The proposal also seeks the creation of a Specialized Teaching Certificate, which would require anyone hired without a proper license would have to pass a background check and receive approval from the local education board and the Coalition of Innovative School Districts.
A 2013 law allows the state board to designate up to 29 innovative districts and lessen regulation to allow new approaches for education. And last year, the state board approved rules allowing districts to hire individuals with expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics but no education degree, to teach in those fields.
Supporters say the plan would foster innovation and allow the districts to tailor their staffs to teaching needs. But the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Kansas National Education Association, says the plan would lessen professionalism in education.
“This is unraveling the quality of teaching we put in our schools,” Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the union said. “We’re going to be experimenting on our kids with untrained, unlicensed people.”
The affected districts would include Concordia, Hugoton, McPherson, Kansas City, Kansas, and Blue Valley in Johnson County.
Rural districts like Hugoton argue that fewer restrictions will help them recruit, develop and retain more teachers.
“We want to be held to outputs and results, not inputs and oppressive rules only sufficed by arduous and expensive course work from colleges hundreds of miles away from our district,” Hugoton’s application reads.
Urban districts like Blue Valley say looser regulations will help them increase innovation and education quality.
The board will discuss the proposal in Topeka on Thursday.
Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com