Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is asking that the Board of Education reinstate undergraduate teaching majors, as opposed to the current standard of bachelor’s and master’s degrees for initial teacher licensure. Part of McAuliffe’s rationale involves meeting shortage areas for K-12 instruction as well as reducing the tuition burden on college and university students. Further, he is proposing funding ($1.1 million) to help automate the teacher licensure process. The proposed changes are billed as an emergency action to take effect March 1, 2018.
Despite the rhetoric, some question our state and local governments’ wisdom as they continue to reduce support for colleges and universities (meaning higher tuition for students), reduce student aid support (meaning students go into debt to pay the tuition to attend those colleges), reduce public school system support (meaning school system cannot significantly reward teachers with advanced degrees, thus making the degrees fiscally imprudent), and then declare a moral victory by proposing eliminating the master’s degree for teacher licensure. Critics concur that it is not clear how reduced academic coursework and abbreviated preparation are consonant with the goals of a quality education for highly prepared teachers. McAuliffe’s proposed plan, it should be noted, provides some increased funding to encourage students to enter teaching and to cover the costs, for tests and test prep programs, for prospective teachers of color.