A bill loosening requirements for teaching technical education subjects in Wisconsin schools “would begin to erode Wisconsin’s high standards for teacher certification,” WEAC President Betsy Kippers said Thursday in testifying on Assembly Bill 581.
“Effective teachers need so much more than skills and knowledge in a subject area,” Kippers told the Assembly Committee on Education. “Teachers need classroom management skills and the ability to teach to a wide variety of learning styles. They need knowledge of cultural diversity and how to teach to a highly diverse population not only related to ethnicity but also to poverty, different family structures and different community structures. Teachers need to know how to develop curriculum and how to provide differentiated instruction for students with a variety of learning levels. To become a teacher you not only need to take education course work, you need classroom experience and a mentor to support you as you begin your teaching career.”
Kippers said Wisconsin already has different pathways to become a teacher. “As an organization of educators we believe there is room for discussion about additional avenues – but those avenues must uphold our state’s tradition of high standards.”
Under the bill, people could bypass long established requirements for earning a teaching license when it comes to teaching technical education subjects. Instead, they would be evaluated for qualification to teach technical education subjects based on a point system that takes into consideration appropriate college degrees, knowledge of the subject matter and experience in the field. The bill defines vocational education subjects as agriculture, child services, clothing services, food services, housing and equipment services, family and consumer education, family and consumer services, home economics-related occupations, health care-related occupations, trade specialist, business education, business and office, and marketing education.
Kippers said Wisconsin must maintain high standards for the teaching profession, demonstrate professional respect and provide support systems for educators.
“Nothing is more important than continuing the tradition of highly qualified teachers in Wisconsin, and WEAC is ready to partner in those efforts,” she said. “Instead of this piecemeal legislation, let’s start by ordering a Legislative Council Study and convening stakeholders including the DPI, higher education, teachers, parents and lawmakers. Let’s work together on creating any additional pathways, and on increasing professional respect.”
Betsy Kippers’ entire testimony: