Utah school districts grappling with inexperienced, untrained teachers under new law

Pupils running wild in classroom at the elementary school

School districts in Utah are grappling with a new state law that allows them to hire teachers who only meet minimum requirements such as having a bachelor’s degree, passing a subject test and clearing a background.

According to desertnews.com, the Academic Pathway to Teaching law addresses the teacher shortage by hiring “specialists” rather than professional teachers who have graduated from schools of education.

“Am I scared to death about some of the realities? Yeah. It’s scary to bring somebody into a building without experience,” said Jessica Bennington, human resources administrator for the Ogden School District. But under the new route, “I can still salvage somebody who has industry experience, while hopefully being able to support them.”

This article notes that Utah is just one of several states that have relaxed teacher requirements amid a nationwide shortage. “A 2016 Oklahoma law allows career people with four-year degrees to teach subjects within their field. Wisconsin also has allowed teachers to renew temporary licenses, even if they haven’t passed exams required for an extended permit.”

One of the more telling sentences in the article about the Utah law is this one:

“For the inexperienced hires, Bennington is planning to require twice-a-month training sessions on how to craft lesson plans that spark students’ curiosity, plus additional seminars in the summertime.”

Read more:

Utah schools slowly begin hiring teachers without experience

By Annie Knox For the Deseret News One month into this school year, about 200 Juab High School students lack the main thing they need to learn to fix broken tractors and irrigation systems: a teacher.