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Schools In Kansas City, Kansas, Get The OK To Hire Teachers Without A License

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio
Mike Wilson, a teacher in Hutchinson, Kansas, speaks to the Kansas State Board of Education Tuesday.

The Kansas State Board of Education has narrowly approved a plan to loosen some teaching requirements for six school districts, including Kansas City, Kansas.

The 6-4 vote on Tuesday will allow the districts to hire people who have expertise in a subject but who lack a teaching license.

Supporters of the change include Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane.

She says this will give administrators more flexibility in hiring for hard-to-fill teacher openings.

“The big issue is that this is going to be used on a small number of openings for very specialized reasons. This is not about solving the teacher shortage problem in Kansas,” Lane said.

Lane says under the new rules, when school districts are faced with a vacancy, they'd first try to hire a teacher licensed to teach a different subject.

If that’s not an option, administrators could consider hiring non-teachers with knowledge in the subject area.

Mike Wilson, a teacher from Hutchinson, is one of roughly a dozen teachers who told the Board of Education Tuesday that the change is a bad idea. He says it takes more than knowledge of a subject to manage a classroom and instruct children.

Wilson said it takes the specialized training that licensed teachers receive.

“You have to understand how kids think. And if you were a great math person, that doesn’t make you a great teacher, just like a great ballplayer doesn’t always make a great coach,” Wilson said.

The six affected districts are McPherson, Concordia, Blue Valley, Hugoton, Marysville and Kansas City, Kansas.

Also on Tuesday, the board discussed numbers showing increasingly more teachers are fleeing Kansas for jobs in other states. Some board members blamed lawmakers for the exodus.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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