JULY 1998 - Alternative teacher certification preserved


Responding to concerns raised by The Business Council and others, the state Board of Regents has preserved procedures that allow schools to hire some teachers who were not educated in teachers' colleges.

In a June draft report, the Regents' Task Force on Teaching urged many important reforms-but also the effective elimination of alternative teacher certification procedures.

In a June 30 letter, Margarita Mayo, The Council's education specialist, praised the report's emphasis on higher standards and increased accountability for teachers and teachers' colleges-but urged the Regents not to undermine or eliminate alternative certification.

In mid-July, the Regents responded by approving a modified report that specifically affirms the ability of the state Commissioner of Education to issue temporary licenses to "visiting lecturers" who have unusual qualifications in a specific subject.

Teachers certified in this way "will be used to create additional instructional capacity where needed and appropriate," the Regents said, noting that the changes will allow "persons with extraordinary backgrounds . . . to add to a district's instructional program."

An estimated 40 percent of current teachers were certified through alternative procedures, Mayo noted, adding that there is no evidence that these teachers are less competent than teachers educated in teachers' colleges.

"Schools should be encouraged to hire teachers whose extraordinary feats in other fields give them ample qualifications to teach," Mayo said.

July 23, 1998