Teacher groups have ideas about expanded certification

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to soon introduce a bill that would make it easier for qualified people without a traditional teaching background to be able to fill vacancies in West Virginia classrooms.

West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President Christine Campbell said she supports making some helpful changes to the “Transition to Teach” program that is already in state code.

“How we can make that a little less cumbersome so that people can go through the process and not feel that it takes an entire week of intense observations every single week,” Campbell said.

The governor, lawmakers, teachers unions and others recognize there are shortages of qualified teachers in West Virginia classrooms. Campbell said it’s related to the pay of teachers but she realizes the state budget is tight so making it easier for those with a non-traditional backgrounds could work. But Campbell said she wants state natives to fill the roles.

“I want to ensure that we have a quality educator in every classroom and we actually focus on members of our state,” she said. “Business folks or people who have an English degree or who understand French as a second language. How do we help them get into that?”

Some lawmakers prefer the Teach for America program where teachers will be recruited to come to West Virginia. Critics are concerned it won’t solve the shortage problem long term.

“These people are connected to the community and we want to make sure these people are going to be here and they are going to stay,” Campbell said.

The specifics of Gov. Tomblin’s plan have yet to be released.

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