Walker proposes new teacher licensure plan to wide criticism
By SCOTT BAUER – Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker wants to create a new pathway for people with “real-life experience” to get licensed to teach in Wisconsin, but his proposal raised concerns Thursday among those in the education community because it requires no training in how to be an effective teacher.
Walker’s plan was one sentence in a news release that detailed other initiatives designed to help create jobs in high-demand fields. His plan would allow someone to forego collegiate-level education courses and instead permit anyone with a bachelor’s degree who can demonstrate proficiency in the areas they want to teach to be licensed.
It would only apply to subjects in grades 6 to 12. The license would be valid for three years.
The statewide teachers union and the lobbyist for a group representing school principals, superintendents and other administrators criticized the proposal.
“We’ve got some significant concerns about its philosophical underpinning,” said John Forester, lobbyist for the School Administrators Alliance.
He said the evidence shows that high-quality preparation for teachers is what really matters for schoolchildren. Forester said Walker’s proposal “bypasses the skill of being able to teach in an understandable way to children.”
Betsy Kippers, a Racine teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, noted that there are already alternative paths for licensing that require instruction on how to be an effective educator.
“Every child should have a caring, qualified and committed teacher with a solid background in how to teach, along with what to teach,” Kippers said in a statement.
Walker’s proposal would require the state Department of Public Instruction to create a competency exam. DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy raised the same concerns that teachers and administrators did.
“You need more than textbook knowledge to be the kind of teacher that connects with students and helps all kids learn,” he said. “Like a skilled surgeon or a master electrician, high-quality teaching requires both skills and content knowledge.”
The department’s alternative methods to obtaining a teaching license generally require previous teaching experience or are largely targeted to specific high-needs areas.