, ,

Bills advance to ease licensing requirements for some Wisconsin educators

Republican backers say their aim is easing a workforce shortage

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

Proposals that would ease licensing requirements for some Wisconsin educators now head to governor’s desk after being being approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate and Assembly.

One bill would remove the requirement that district superintendents be licensed by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction. Currently, candidates for a district administrator license in Wisconsin must have qualifications, including a master’s, education specialist, or doctorate degree, and at least six semesters of teaching or pupil services experience, according to the DPI.

Existing state law allows an exception to those rules for districts of a certain size, making Milwaukee Public Schools the only district not subject to the requirements.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Rep. Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers, said local school boards should have the flexibility to hire people they deem qualified.

“The other side of the aisle always seems to think that having that permission slip from the government is somehow the way to ensure quality in our workforce,” Sortwell said on the Assembly floor Tuesday. “Let’s pass a good commonsense bill and let people be hired who the school district thinks will do a good job.”

But Rep. Kristina Shelton, D-Green Bay, argued the changes could lower standards.

“Deregulation and de-professionalization is not a workforce plan,” she said.

Republican backers said another bill that cleared the Legislature Tuesday would help alleviate a teacher shortage by easing the path for paraprofessionals to become teachers.

It would allow a paraprofessional who’s worked in a classroom for at least one year to get a temporary license to teach for three years while being mentored by a teacher.

If that provisional license-holder successfully completes those three years of teaching, the bill would require the DPI to grant a lifetime teaching license.

That path would allow someone to bypass other licensing requirements for becoming a Wisconsin teacher, such as having a bachelor’s degree.