Training or experience? Pedagogy or subject matter expertise? Utah lawmakers are weighing what makes a good teacher as they consider a bill that would allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed teacher by passing competency tests in the subjects they wish to teach or demonstrating skills in those areas. The bill, SB48, was given preliminary approval Thursday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Now, most people who lack education degrees but want to become teachers must get approval from the districts in which they hope to teach and then pass subject and pedagogy tests. They may also go through an alternate process that requires them to take education classes before becoming fully licensed, among other things. SB48 would allow individuals to go directly to the state Board of Education to become licensed and would not require pedagogy classes or tests.
“I know a lot of guys who have retired and are absolutely fabulous and would make wonderful teachers because they understand the marketplace,” says the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chris Buttars said. “This is long past due.”
“This bill really is an insult to education,” counters another Senator. ”Teachers have a skill set that is unique, developed and is nurtured and trained. I think this bill expands the profession of teaching into a hobby of teaching.”
The bill requires a bachelor’s degree and passing a “rigorous” state test to teach elementary school. Anyone wishing to teach basic middle school and high school subjects would also need at least a bachelor’s degree and would either need to pass a state test or demonstrate competency in the subject with a major, graduate degree or coursework.
The Utah Education Association has come out against the bill.