Kansas lifts teacher licensure requirement in 6 districts

TOPEKA, Kansas – The State Board of Education met in Topeka Tuesday to consider a number of changes to the state’s education system. One of the proposals approved will allow 6 “innovative “districts to hire unlicensed teachers. Those districts are McPherson, Concordia, Hugoton, Marysville, Blue Valley and Kansas City.

Supporters say it will help some districts fill voids left behind by teachers retiring or leaving the profession in recent years.

Opponents say it sets a bad precedent for public education. The McPherson school district is one of several in the state that can now hire unlicensed teachers.

This ruling opens the door for people to teach without the teaching certificate required in high school and middle school. These employees will need to be approved by their local school board, will still have to pass a background check and receive a specialized teaching certificate. But some say that’s not good enough.

The State Board of Education in Topeka heard hours of testimony from both sides of the issue before approving the proposal on a 6-4 vote.

The McPherson school district is part of the Coalition of Innovative School Districts. The coalition was created by lawmakers 3 years ago to allow some districts to bend the rules when it comes to state rules for education.

Some parents we caught up with at the pool in McPherson aren’t on board with the idea.

“It bothers me yeah I think they need to be schooled- have schooling for it just like me at my job I have to go through classes and stuff for my job,” said parent Angie Lamendola.

Other opponents include the head of the state’s largest teacher’s union who says untrained teachers aren’t good for students.

Supporters also point out that the state already made similar changes last year when it allowed districts to hire experts in science, technology, math and engineering but no teaching degree to teach in middle or high school. But union leaders say this proposal is different because they say it doesn’t require any formalized classroom training.

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