A call for higher standards for public school teachers to match new higher standards for students is "an important step forward in the effort to improve the quality of public education," according to Margarito Mayo, The Business Council's specialist in education issues.
But Mayo said that standards for teachers can be raised without undermining or eliminating existing alternative certification methods for teachers.
The state Board of Regents' Task Force on Teaching released a report June 15 in which it urged higher standards for teachers. The report called for more rigorous requirements in teacher certification, continuing education, and college preparation for teachers, as well as new incentives for teacher recruitment.
Mayo outlined The Business Council's thoughts on the report in a June 30 letter to Regents Diane McGivern and Robert Johnson, co-chairs of the task force.
Mayo praised the task force's emphasis on continuing education and professional development for teachers and for steps to increase accountability for teachers, schools, and teachers' colleges.
But she warned against changes in alternative teacher certification procedures.
Noting that 40 percent of teachers are now certified through the current alternative certification route, Mayo wrote that there is no evidence advanced that these teachers are less competent than those who are educated in traditional teachers' colleges.
"If alternative certification is changed to protect the turf of the schools of education, we will lose many competent content area experts who are seeking a career change" by becoming teachers, Mayo warned in her letter.
She noted that the recommendation comes at a time when the task force itself is predicting a teacher shortage in the near future.