Lowering standards won’t bring us better teachers, Kippers says in response to Walker plan

Kippers_130pxA new proposal by Governor Walker that would allow potential teachers with “real life experience” to become licensed by passing a competency test will not improve education and will not solve any of the problems facing education, WEAC President Betsy Kippers said Thursday (January 22, 2015).

“We can’t accept the idea that lowering standards is going to bring us better-qualified teachers,” Kippers said. “And this doesn’t solve the real problem facing schools – adequate funding that allows schools to find and keep the best teachers.”

Kippers pointed out that Wisconsin already offers different paths to become a teacher that still meet the requirements of the licensure law, “because every child should have a caring, qualified and committed teacher with a solid background in how to teach, along with what to teach.”

Walker unveiled his plan in a news release announcing his Workforce Readiness Initiatives that he plans to include in his 2015-17 state budget plan. He provided no details, just a bullet point describing his plan to “create alternative pathways to allow a candidate with real life experience to pass a competency test to gain a teacher license.” More details will likely be included in his February 3 budget address.

“The suggestion that anybody can walk into a classroom and effectively teach is disrespectful to generations of highly qualified Wisconsin teachers and is a slap in the face of the profession,” Kippers said. “Would we do the same for our doctors, dentists, psychologists or lawyers?”

Kippers said preparing to be a good teacher involves course work, guided experience (such as student teaching and mentor programs), and ongoing professional development. Teachers not only need to know their subject matter, they need to know how to teach.

“Requiring potential teachers to demonstrate their skill and ability to teach children is not a barrier. It’s a moral obligation,” she said.

“Already, private voucher schools that get tax subsidies require only a bachelor’s degree – and public school students outperform them. At a time when we’re demanding more from our students and schools, why would we lessen the requirements for becoming a teacher?”

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