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Teacher certification plan draws educator concern

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BOISE, Idaho (KIFI)-The Idaho House Education Committee has reported out a bill that would allow local school districts and charter schools to create “local teaching certificates.”   

The move is a legislative attempt to meet a growing teacher shortage by allowing schools to hire people who meet their own professional requirements as long as they agree to provide mentoring and professional development. 

A teacher with a “local certificate” would be limited to teaching within that district or charter school and remain on the residency rung of the career ladder.

The Idaho Education Association is adamantly opposed to the plan.   IEA President Layne McInelly said it allows certification of people based on extremely minimal qualifications. 

“To put someone in charge of an Idaho classroom just because they are over the age of 18 and have a bachelor’s degree is a huge disservice to students and disrespectful to our well-trained, highly qualified professional educators,” said McInelly. 

The IEA said Idaho’s teacher retention rates are far below the national average, but claims the legislature has shown little interest in moving forward with tangible solutions.

Educators have identified several reasons that more teachers are considering leaving the profession.   They include:

* Dramatically increased workload and stress, especially during the  
  Covid 19 crisis. 

* Unwieldy class sizes. Idaho has the sixth-highest average class size in the nation

* Veteran teachers who have seen little, if any, increase in salary over the last decade

* Educators facing a 20.9% “wage penalty” compared to other professions

* A lack of respect for their work and their profession.

McInelly believes addressing those concerns would be a more productive teacher retention strategy, adding, “a highly qualified teacher is the single most important factor in student success. Lowering the bar—again—makes the dynamic haphazard and threatens student achievement. Idaho students, parents, and professional educators deserve better.”

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