March 13, 2016
On March 8, Governor Walker signed into law 2015 Wisconsin Act 259, which will allow school districts to hire non-traditional candidates that qualify for an “experience-based” teaching license to teach vocational education subjects (source). Under this bill vocational subjects include: agriculture; child services; clothing services; food services; housing and equipment services; family and consumer education; family and consumer services; home economics-related occupations; healthcare-related occupations; business education; and marketing education. Teachers hired by a school district are issued an initial three-year teaching license by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and once that license is expired, DPI may issue a professional teaching license to the applicant as long as they have successfully completed the curriculum, which is determined by the school board that established that curriculum (source).
Wisconsin is facing a teacher shortage. Some vocational teaching positions have been hard to fill in Wisconsin, particularly in rural areas, but increasingly so across the state.
Proponents of this bill attest to the difficulty in hiring licensed teachers in these areas
and assert that people with years of job experience would be qualified to
of the bill reference that last year, there were proposals to allow anyone with
“real life experience” to get a job (Wisconsin State Journal,Wi Department of Instruction). Opponents assert that loosening state standards of licensing puts Wisconsin education near national bottom and does not address central issues, such as why a teacher shortage exists and why teacher retention is increasingly difficult. Opponents assert that there are already means to hire uncertified teachers under emergency licenses when situations warrant such actions.
Connection for English Language Arts/ NCTE:
NCTE has repeatedly signaled a value for highly trained teachers (among them, a 2004 Guideline to Prepare Teachers with Knowledge on Child and Adolescent Lit; 2005 CEE Position about Technology; 1998 Resolution on Licensure). While this particular law centers on non-English related positions, there have been clear indications and proposals that would allow all Wisconsin teaching positions to be held by untrained teachers meeting “real life experience” qualifications. Teaching of reading and writing is complex, and teaching of critical thinkers is even more so. Wisconsin deserves highly qualified and trained teachers in its classrooms.