Bill creates alternative pathways to an Iowa teaching license

DES MOINES — A bill to set up a new, quicker routes for getting a license to teach in Iowa cleared the House this week.

Representative Henry Stone, a Republican from Forest City, said it would help ease the teacher shortage. “When a teacher shows up in the classroom, kids aren’t asking them what path it took to be there,” Stone said. “Their only concern is to be educated to the best extent possible.”

If the bill becomes law, people with a college degree could be hired as teaching interns while they complete their training for a license. The bill would also let a college graduate take an online course to get a temporary teaching license rather than enroll in a teacher prep program at a college or university.

Sixty-one Republicans voted for the bill. Two Republicans and all the Democrats in the House voted against it. Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny who’s a teacher, said there should be a required period of student teaching under the direct supervision of an experienced educator before someone leads a class on their own.

“Would you want you house wired by an electrician who had never done an apprenticeship? Would you like to be operated on by a surgeon who’d never been through a residency program? How about flying on a plane with a pilot who’d never actually flown a plane?” Buck asked.

Representative Sue Cahill, a Democrat from Marshalltown who’s a retired teacher, said she’s seen people quit after a stint of student teaching — with another veteran teacher in the room

“It is a lot different than it looks on TV, then it looks when reading a book, or you may have experienced when you were a student,” Cahill sayid.

Stone said these type of alternative licensing options are being used successfully by teachers in other states like Wisconsin and Missouri. “It might not be comfortable trying something you’re not used to,” Stone said. “But…why not give them a try?”

Stone said the traditional route of licensure, with periods of supervised student teaching, is always an option, but this bill would let capable people more quickly get a job leading a classroom. “Somebody who wants to pursue a teaching degree as a second career path or later on in life isn’t just doing it on a whim. They are invested in this process. Also the district doesn’t have to hire them,” Stone said. “At the end of the day the school district decides whether or not to hire that individual.”

Also this week, Republicans in the House passed a bill to change the make-up of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners so five would be parents, five would be educators and one would be a school board member. Currently, the Iowa Department of Education’s director, two parents and nine educators serve on the board.