U-46 Welcomes New Certification Law Alternative Program May Solve District's Staffing Problems
Ryndak, Heather, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Heather Ryndak Daily Herald Staff Writer
Finding teachers for industrial technology and family-consumer science classes has been tough for Elgin Area Unit District 46 over the past several years.
In fact, the situation was so dire last year that the district scrambled to find a retired teacher a week before school began to teach a drafting class at Streamwood's Tefft Middle School.
"It's hard to find good people out there who would share their knowledge with students," said Patricia Kindt, director of human resources for U-46.
So when Kindt and other district officials found out about legislation that would allow college graduates without education degrees to teach in Illinois school districts, they saw a ray of hope.
"This could help. Absolutely. Not everyone can or wants to go back to college for an education background, but more people would be willing to take a short, intensive course," Kindt said.
Called the alternative teaching certification law, the legislation allows people to enroll in an eight-week program that includes courses in education theory, instructional methods and teaching practice.
Once the course is completed, candidates receive a provisional alternative certificate valid for one year. The students must teach for a year and pass a performance assessment by school officials.
A certificate issued at that point would be valid for five years.
Staff shortages have resulted in canceled classes and left students disappointed and without an elective of their first choice, said Ellie MacKinney, vocational technical education coordinator for U-46.
While the district sees the law as a way to fill vacancies, the union representing the teachers thinks the shortcuts will hurt students.
Karen Schock, president of the Elgin Teachers Association, said, it would be a mistake for U-46 to implement such a program.
"Skills of an instructor is one small part of teaching. Connecting, motivating, disciplining students and managing a classroom is really what elevates teaching," Schock said. …