Utah now allows professionals without education degrees to teach in public schools

Hand on chalkboardSaying the new policy is designed to address teacher shortages, the Utah Board of Education has approved an “alternative pathway” to obtaining a teaching license that will allow schools to hire people with no teaching experience and no degree in education.

According to Education Week, the policy allows school districts and charter schools to hire individuals “with professional experience in certain content areas like computer science, as long as they have a bachelor’s degree, submit college transcripts to education administrators, pass the state test required for teacher certification, complete an educator ethics review, and pass a background check. After being hired, that individual will have to go through three years of supervision and mentoring from a ‘master teacher’ designated by the school before receiving licensure.”

It brings to mind last year’s fight over teacher licensing in Wisconsin. In 2015, as part of the State Budget process, the Republican-controlled Legislature proposed a measure that would have allowed districts to hire and license anybody with a bachelor’s degree and put them in front of students. Following an outcry from educators, parents and other citizens, the Legislature backed off, but in March 2016, Governor Walker signed into law a bill – strongly opposed by WEAC – that weakens teacher licensure standards in vocational education and other “non-core” subjects.

Under that law, individuals hired by a school district to teach vocational education related subjects 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. 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.

Read more about the new Utah licensing in Education Week:

You No Longer Need a Teaching Degree to Teach in Utah

Utah schools, faced with a growing teacher shortage, can now hire people who have relevant professional experience but no teaching experience. The Utah State Board of Education voted on Friday to create an alternative pathway to obtaining a teaching license.

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Utah now allows professionals without education degrees to teach in public schools

The policy brings to mind last year’s heated battle over teacher licensing in Wisconsin.