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Vocational Education Teachers in Short Supply

I've written often before about the need to grant vocational education the respect it deserves because not all students have the desire or aptitude to pursue a four-year academic degree.  But an equally pressing problem is finding enough teachers to meet the demand of employers ("States Want More Career and Technical Training, But Struggle to Find Teachers," Huffington Post, Apr. 6).

Two-thirds of states report a shortage of vocational education teachers.  One of the reasons is that those with the knowledge and skills can command much higher salaries than schools pay.  Another is that those with the expertise don't want to take the additional educational courses necessary for full certification. 

That's why alternative certification makes sense. Anyone with an associate degree, an industry credential, or at least five years of work experience would qualify for a one-year license.  If they are given proper support in classroom management through mentors once hired, I believe these people should then qualify for a regular license.

The need for a vocational education curriculum and experienced practitioners is undeniable.  It's time to make changes to meet the needs of students and employers.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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