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House passes new pathways to becoming a teacher

In a move to tackle Alabama’s pressing teacher shortage, Rep. Susan DuBose (R-Hoover) walked fellow lawmakers through a bill that promises to revolutionize the state’s alternative teacher certification programs.

The legislation, which passed the House 83-20, would create a pathway for college degree holders to repurpose their education toward certification. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Currently, the traditional teacher certification route involves several steps, such as earning a degree from a state-approved teacher preparation program and passing relevant exams. The Alabama State Department of Education advises aspiring educators to begin their journey at a college or university.

“Our colleges are producing 20% fewer teachers in the last five years”,” DuBose said. “Because we are trying to increase our standards in the state of Alabama, for example, we need 700 experienced math teachers.”

Under the bill, the Education Department would maintain a database of alternative teacher education preparation organizations. They would be responsible for screening, recruiting, and recommending qualified individuals for certification to teach in public K-12 schools.

Democrats in the House resisted the idea, saying the state needs to invest in existing options, such as colleges of education, and the bill might lower standards.

“How are we going to determine if they’ve fulfilled the quality that we’re looking for in education once they’ve gone through these years?” Rep. Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) said. “When you look at our higher education, accreditation is the level to me that would be the top level of making sure our teachers are prepared.”

DuBose said the bill will alleviate those concerns and pave the way for more alternative teacher certification programs to qualify, combating the current scarcity.

To be recommended for initial licensing, applicants would need to meet certain criteria, including a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, passing a criminal background check, and completing an alternative teacher preparation program. Those courses, online and in-person, would be rapidly expanded under this legislation. 

Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session. 

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