Walker proposes lifetime teaching licenses

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Teachers in the state would never have to renew their teaching licenses under a plan from Gov. Scott Walker.

In his budget released last week, Walker proposed granting teachers lifetime teaching licenses.

School administrators who've pushed for streamlined licensing to address a teacher shortage say they could be onboard, with a caveat. They want to require ongoing training to ensure teachers use the latest techniques in their classrooms.

"As we attempt to address the educator shortage in Wisconsin, we cannot lose sight of how important it is for all kids to be taught by a highly qualified educator," Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers said in a news release Thursday. "Like many licensed professionals, a big part of keeping current includes some form of continuing education."

Under Walker's plan, the state would not require any continuing education but school districts could choose to require it, according to his spokesman, Tom Evenson. Districts would have to perform background checks every few years and teachers could still lose their licenses for misconduct. DPI would no longer oversee license renewals and would lose 10 full-time positions. The plan would reduce the cost of teaching by more than $750 over a 30-year career, Evenson said.

Jon Bales, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Administrators, is open to Walker's proposal as long as some form of continuing education is still required.

"What will be important for districts is that they have the resources to do that well on an equitable basis across the state," he said.

He said research on learning styles, test formats and programming for non-English-speakers constantly evolves and must be continually applied in the classroom.

Bales and Evers had proposed combining subject area and age level licenses to make the process less burdensome. They also wanted to make it easier for out-of-state teachers to get licensed. Bales said their proposal could work with Walker's.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters Thursday that he wasn't sure Walker's plan would have the support of educators. His spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tom McCarthy, DPI's spokesman, said the department was still reviewing the proposal and declined to comment.


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