On Thursday, the Coalition of Innovative School Districts met with representatives from the major post-secondary institutions in Kansas to discuss the Coalition’s intentions in seeking waivers for the licensure process. KSDE attended to present a summary of the multiple routes that can currently be taken to attain a license or teaching certificate in Kansas, and the school district and postsecondary representatives had a lengthy and straightforward discussion of their goals and concerns.
Bev Mortimer, incoming chair of the Coalition, indicated that though the districts are diverse, their goals are the same; to ensure students not only graduate, but leave high school with what they need to be successful in postsecondary education or in their chosen industry. District representatives indicated the goals for allowing districts to hire unlicensed teachers were to provide the specific instruction the students are seeking when there are no qualified licensed educators available, and to streamline the process for filling gaps in the candidate pool. They clarified that the preference will always be to hire traditionally licensed educators.
Postsecondary representatives explained that their concerns with the licensure waiver were not based on issues of control or finances. They indicated the two major areas of concern were related to the perception of the profession and their participation in the process. Deans said some do not view education as a professional field, and because of this potential educators are turning away from education degrees. They fear removing licensure requirements will intensify this perception. The second concern was that postsecondary representatives have not been asked to participate in the process until now despite the fact they have resources and assistance they can offer.
The group discussed the need for accountability and transparency, and discussed many possibilities for collaboration. At the end of the meeting, the Coalition voted to include one or two representatives from postsecondary institutions on their Waiver of Licensure Subcommittee. The subcommittee will work to have a proposal ready to review at the Coalition’s next meeting in May. Assuming the full group, including post-secondary representatives, approves of the proposal, it will be presented to the Kansas State Board of Education at the June board meeting.