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Alternative Teacher Certification Hearing


July 24, 2012

By Brendan

The House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee’s subcommittee on early childhood, elementary, and secondary education met today for a hearing on alternative teacher certifications. Alternative teacher certifications allow people who have not participated in a traditional teacher certification program at a public university to become a teacher through an alternative program. Those wishing to participate in these alternative programs include recent grads with Teach for America and highly skilled professionals with bachelor’s degrees looking to switch careers, such as engineers, scientists, etc.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee were in support of the idea of alternative certification, but both sides of aisle focused their questions for the witnesses on separate areas.

Democrats expressed concerns about the ability of alternative programs, which typically last only a few months, to adequately train professionals to become teachers. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) stated, “There is something about bringing an expert into a classroom no matter how good they are in their subject. They have to learn how to teach, and how to evaluate, and how to reward.”

Republicans on the committee tended to focus their questions more on the lines of the federal role in teacher certification. Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) asked what can Congress do on the federal level, and the resounding answer from the witnesses was hold schools accountable for outcomes while giving them the autonomy to make their own hiring and training decisions.

In the end, both sides continued to acknowledge their shared support for the issue of having highly qualified teachers in every classroom, and their concern for the growing teacher shortage around the country.

To view the hearing in its entirety or to read the testimony of the witnesses, visit the committee’s website.

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