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The Issue of Teacher Licensure
posted by: Cindy Omlin | November 12, 2015, 10:44 PM   

Alabama State Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year, Ann Marie Corgill resigned from teaching after 21 years this week. By all accounts, Ms. Corgill was an excellent teacher. She was a National Board Certified Teacher. Her students, colleagues, and principal all spoke well of her. She was a mentor to other teachers and a published author. Moreover, there’s every indication that she loved her students and that she loved her job. What could possibly drive such a talent out of the system?

The answer is teacher licensing.  

Licensing is supposed to ensure that we end up with a well-qualified workforce, not a means to drive teachers out of the profession. Something has clearly gone wrong.

After No Child Left Behind was passed with an emphasis on highly qualified teachers, many states sought to raise their certification requirements. In many cases, this meant adding more hoops to jump through and layers of bureaucracy for well-meaning teachers. As Ms. Corgill lamented in her resignation letter, "After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning."

This is not the first time that we’ve heard about licensing issues affecting great teachers. Earlier this year, Minnesota made national news over its licensing certification procedures. AAE member and AAE National Grant awardee Mr. David Fassler was kind enough to share with us the degree of difficulty it took to gain licensure after a move from Massachusetts to Minnesota.

Like Ms. Corgill, there is every indication that Mr. Fassler is an excellent teacher. He is an experienced educator who held the highest level of Massachusetts teacher licenses. However, when he tell his story about his licensing experience in Minnesota, he remarked, “I was informed that because my educator preparation program was for middle school, I would have to find a sponsoring college or university to evaluate my transcripts and lay out a path of further study to obtain the high school license, including a minimum of 200 hours of student teaching the very content I had been teaching full time for the past six years.”

If you want to read more about Mr. Fassler’s struggle to get licensed, we’ll be featuring his story in our upcoming December issue of Education Matters. AAE Education Matters Newsletters are published on the web the first week of every month. Be on the lookout!

The issue of teacher licensure is a complicated one. Although we must ensure a well-qualified workforce, educators know we need to reform this system. We cannot sacrifice excellent teachers or deter other well qualified professionals from a career in teaching in the name of unnecessary red tape.

What are your experiences with teacher licensing? Do you think the current process is appropriate? What would you like to see changed?

Originally posted by Melissa at AAE.

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