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Wisconsin Proposal Would Reduce Requirements for Alternative Teachers

A Wisconsin lawmaker has proposed that anyone with a bachelor's degree should be able to earn a license to teach core subject areas in 6th through 12th grades in Wisconsin schools, according to a story in USA Today.

Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma) proposed the budget provision after discussing alternate teacher pathways on a state rural school task force. The proposal is meant to make it easier for rural school districts to find teachers, and would also allow school districts to hire any candidate it finds "proficient" to teach specialized classes, like woodworking. Opponents, however, say the proposal is insulting to the teaching profession.

"[Teachers] are licensed for a reason,"Re. Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) told the paper. "It's a guarantee that they know what they're doing, that they have been trained and that they are skilled. This is a profession." Instead, Pope said the state should focus on adequately funding schools. 

Across the nation, states and school districts have attempted to find solutions to chronic rural teacher shortages. A rural school Texas school district has used bond money to build affordable homes for its teachers, which now house over half of the teaching staff.  In March, Minnesota lawmakers introduced a bill that would reduce teacher licensure requirements to allow out-of-state teachers to earn a Minnesota teaching license. In Nebraska, a program that launched in 2014 at the University of Nebraska's Kearney campus is specifically focusing on filling a shortage of rural special education students by streamlining the certification process for those teachers.

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