10/12/05 — Certifications: Other states’ proven teachers could help N.C. schools

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Certifications: Other states’ proven teachers could help N.C. schools

There is nothing wrong with demanding higher standards for North Carolina’s students.

So, on the surface, Gov. Mike Easley’s stand against easing licensing requirements for out-of-state teachers to lead classrooms in North Carolina schools is a good one.

But the problem is, the governor’s concerns are the exception rather than the rule.

An out-of-state teacher comes into the state with a certificate issued by another state’s board of education. Just as North Carolina’s board does not just hand certificates to anyone who asks, neither do other states’ education governing bodies.

To receive certification, a teacher has to meet certain criteria — including passing subject matter tests in some states. Experienced teachers, especially, have to maintain continuing education hours to keep their certificates up-to-date.

A teacher with a certificate issued by another state could hardly be considered unproven unless that certification is less than a year old.

And, of course, no teacher in North Carolina ought to be hired without someone checking with his or her previous employer to make sure he or she was competent and qualified.

So, while the teacher licensing issue is an admirable attempt to maintain quality education in the state of North Carolina, there are many more places where the energy could be spent, with much better results.

This state, like many, many others, is facing a severe teacher shortage, especially in rural schools. Getting qualified teachers to go to any school district is a challenge. Make it more difficult for them to find a job, and there will be fewer and fewer willing to jump the hurdles necessary to teach in North Carolina.

Set standards for teachers in the classroom, and set hurdles for those without an already established record of service in the field.

That is the best way to get people in the classrooms and to keep the most qualified teachers employed in North Carolina.

Published in Editorials on October 12, 2005 10:26 AM