McPherson school officials are pleased with the Kansas Board of Education vote Tuesday to allow the hiring of non-accredited teachers.
USD 418 Superintendent Mark Crawford said the decision was a courageous one.
“I really think the state board understands that, while this was much more contentious an issue than it needed to be,” he said, “the coalition of innovative school districts really needs to be seen as an extension of the state board, or as a research and development arm. We need to be able to pilot and try out new ideas.”
In implementing the new policy, which is being tested on a one-year basis, USD 418 will look to hire the best candidates available, with a number of criteria in place to be considered.
“They have to be either licensed or have a professional degree or have some type of certification,” Crawford said. “We're going to look for a certified teacher that will be allowed to teach outside of their certification area.”
As an example, Crawford pointed to a case they had at McPherson High School with a biology-certified teacher who was needed to teach chemistry. Under the current guidelines, she had to have extra training to the tune of nine credit hours before that could happen.
“She did that,” he said. “It was probably over $3,000 out of her pocket for seat time that she didn't need. She had to take a history and philosophy of education and classroom management course. And she's already an accomplished teacher with no classroom management issues.”
The teacher in question came to the high school from out of state and received her pedagogy training from a non-traditional program.
“Typically, when that happens, Kansas has not been friendly to out-of-state licenses,” Crawford said. “And they're especially not friendly to a non-traditional pedagogical training.”
The state board voted in favor of the program on a 6-4 basis, with Vice-Chair Carolyn Wims-Campbell voicing concern that the state lawmakers will implement the practice statewide before the practice can be proven to work.
“I think the legislature will look at this and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't try to change what we just did with the six districts,” Wims-Campbell said.
Concordia, Hugoton, Marysville, Blue Valley and the Kansas City, Kansas, school districts will also implement the program.