Bill Proposes Lowering Teachers' Standards - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

05/05/03 - Tyler

Bill Proposes Lowering Teachers' Standards

Because of the number of teachers retiring statewide, combined with the growth in school age children, Texas' teaching shortage is expected to increase. The state says it needs 82,000 new teachers by 2008. A bill in the Texas Senate may provide a new avenue for future teachers.

HB 318 would let anyone with a bachelor's degree who can pass a certification exam take charge of a classroom. But, not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Shelli Shuster is an Stephen F. Austin special Education major. "There's so much training that I've learned in the past few years to be able to do what I do now." She says the lessons she's learned while observing in the classroom will make her a better teacher. And she's afraid House Bill 318 would let too many prospective teachers skip that important step. "We're here to teach and let students learn. If you don't know how to teach, then how could they learn?

"This will give us flexibility to pick and choose out of a larger pool," says Sharon Roy. Roy is the Human Resources Director for Tyler I.S.D. She's responsible for filling the dozens of vacancies the district faces every year. "We have to have people who want to become good teachers and we have to have good management programs so that they can become good teachers."

House Bill 318 only applies to junior high and high school teachers. Elementary school teachers would still have to go through the current teacher certification program. The proposal is supported by the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Association of School Boards, and the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators. Many teachers' groups, including the Texas State Teachers Association, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, and the Association of Texas Professional Educators oppose the plan.

Roy says HB 318 won't force districts to hire anyone who doesn't belong in the classroom. But many teachers say unless you've had the training Shelli Shuster is currently getting, you're not ready mold young minds.

Stephen Parr, reporting.

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