MU administrator opposes alternative teacher certification bill
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MU administrator opposes alternative teacher certification bill

Date: March 31, 2008
By: Alex Lundy
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 1066

JEFFERSON CITY - An associate dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia opposes a Senate bill allowing an out-of-state organization to certify elementary and high school teachers.

Deborah Carr, associate dean for academic programs, testified before a special House Student Achievement Committee on a Senate-passed measure that would allow persons without education degrees to teach full time in public schools if certified by a national organization.

Carr said the organization, the American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence, requires too few hours of classroom experience prior to certification.

"This is certainly not enough preparatory time," Carr said.

She said she would only support the program outlined in the bill if it targeted high-need subject areas such as math and science. Rep. Timothy Flook, R-Liberty, who serves on the committee, said he also supports "narrowing the bill to math and science."

In addition to Carr, two professors from William Jewell College near Kansas City testified in opposition of the bill. Donna Gardner, who also represented the Missouri Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, and Cynthia Green said ABCTE lowers certification standards.

"What we do is effective," Gardner said. "Missouri has already adopted alternative teacher certification."

She said there are more than 35 programs for "successful alternative certification" in the state, including one at William Jewell.

Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, who sponsored the bill, said the state's existing programs force career-changers to quit their jobs to either attend classes or start teaching without any preparation.

But Gardner said professionals looking for careers in education can find programs where classes take place at night. 

Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, said he understands the opposition from an economic standpoint.

"If I were from a college of education, I'd be afraid this program would dilute my business," he said, suggesting that these colleges "do something similar to ABCTE."

But witnesses at the hearing said they think ABCTE produces unprepared teachers.

"Do you want to drive a car that doesn't have seat belts, doesn't have brakes, doesn't have the proper safety equipment?" Green said.

The bill, passed by the committee by a 6-1 vote, has been referred to the Rules Committee.