I read a very strange guest editorial in my morning paper the other day. It was written by “a research associate” at the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE) at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
The topic of the editorial was the US teacher shortage. The writer feels that the problem is aggravated in Arkansas by requiring teachers to meet licensing laws in order to be hired. His objections include the following:
Licensure laws impose undue hardships on schools to timely fill vacant positions with licensed teachers.
Licensing imposes an extra cost on those wishing to become teachers, preventing some people from entering the profession.
Teaching is a doing profession–not a test-taking profession. Instead of imposing burdens on people who want to enter the profession, Arkansas should lower the entry requirements by lowering the cutoff score.
If I had read these remarks in a Facebook post, I would have assumed the article had appeared in the Onion and was therefore intended to be preposterous.
Teaching is a profession every bit as vital to the common good as doctoring.
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, over the next decade, the US is facing shortage of physicians ranging between 61,700 and 94,700. As far as I can tell, no one is suggesting that the AMA lower residency requirements to permit more people to enter the doctoring profession.
Instead of lowering licensure requirements, we need to train more teachers. And, while we’re at it, we need to raise the standards of teacher preparation and improve professional working conditions for teachers once they qualify.
Here’s my take on qualifications needed by teachers K-12.