Despite overwhelming outrage from teachers, Utah public schools can now officially hire people to teach without a teaching license or teaching experience.
In June, the Utah State Board of Education voted to create an alternative pathway to obtaining a teaching license, under which school districts and charter schools can hire individuals with relevant professional experience, particularly in hard-to-staff areas like computer science or mathematics. To be hired as a teacher through this pathway, applicants need a bachelor’s degree, must pass the state test required for teacher certification, and must complete an educators’ ethics review and pass a background check.
The new pathway, which is intended to curb the state’s teacher shortage, drops a previous requirement that these prospective teachers take college teacher-training courses. Instead, after being hired, the new teachers go through three years of supervision and mentoring from a veteran educator before receiving licensure.
The policy became effective today, after the state board made no changes, despite last month’s heated public hearing on the issue. According to news reports, a beyond-capacity crowd strongly criticized the new rule, saying that it would harm student learning and that it devalues teachers.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, an elementary school teacher said the policy was “absolutely demoralizing and insulting,” saying: “Just because you comprehend third-grade math doesn’t mean that you can teach third-grade math.”
Representatives from the Utah teacher unions, local subject-area associations, and the Utah Democratic Caucus also opposed the rule. Supporters contend that it will give schools access to a bigger pool of talent.
Forty-two percent of teachers in Utah quit within the five years of starting, and more than one-third of those who quit teaching do so at the end of their first year, according to the Utah State Office of Education. Meanwhile, Utah’s student population is increasing every year—schools in the state gained nearly 12,000 new students last year.
Stock image via Getty
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.