The Kansas State Board of Education has narrowly approved a plan to loosen some teaching requirements for six Kansas school districts. The 6-4 vote will allow the districts to hire people who have expertise in a subject but who lack a teaching license.
Supporters of the change include Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane. She says this will give administrators more flexibility in hiring for hard-to-fill teacher openings.
“The big issue is that this is going to be used on a small number of openings for very specialized reasons. This is not about solving the teacher shortage problem in Kansas,” says Lane.
Lane says under the new rules, when school districts are faced with a vacancy, they'd first try to hire a teacher licensed to teach a different subject. If that’s not an option, administrators could consider hiring non-teachers with knowledge in the subject area.
Mike Wilson, a teacher from Hutchinson, is one of around a dozen teachers who told the Board of Education Tuesday that the change is a bad idea. He says it takes more than knowledge of a subject to manage a classroom and instruct children. Wilson says it takes the specialized training that licensed teachers receive.
“You have to understand how kids think. And if you were a great math person, that doesn’t make you a great teacher, just like a great ballplayer doesn’t always make a great coach,” says Wilson.
This six affected districts are McPherson, Concordia, Blue Valley, Hugoton, Marysville and Kansas City, Kansas.