Walker signs bill weakening teacher licensure in vocational education

Governor Walker has signed into law a bill – strongly opposed by WEAC – that weakens teacher licensure standards in vocational education and other “non-core” subjects.

This proposal is short-sighted and won’t solve the teacher shortage problem,” said WEAC President Betsy Kippers. “Wisconsin needs long-term, common sense solutions that won’t shortchange our children.”

Walker signed the bill into law Tuesday at Brown Deer High School in the Milwaukee. The law creates an experience-based licensure process for teaching vocational education subjects.  Under the new law, vocational education subjects include: 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; business education; and marketing education. Teachers hired by a school district are issued an initial three-year teaching license by the Department of Public Instruction and once that license is expired, DPI may issue a professional teaching license to the applicant as long as they have successfully completed the curriculum, which is determined by the school board that established that curriculum.

In testimony in December before the Assembly Education Committee, Kippers said, “Effective teachers need so much more than skills and knowledge in a subject area.”

“Teachers need classroom management skills and the ability to teach to a wide variety of learning styles,” she said. “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.”