I had an opportunity recently to talk to Alexis Ware, a reporter for MPB, about Mississippi’s teacher shortage and how alternate route certification programs are filling the gap. Here’s the full interview that aired on the radio: MISSISSIPPI EDITION: THURSDAY, AUGUST 10TH. The segment I’m in begins around the 8:45-minute mark. I was actually pretty nervous, at least at the beginning. No one wants to sound like an idiot on a radio program that airs across the state of Mississippi. Ms. Ware wrote up a brief article from her collective interviews. Here it is below as a teaser for the longer audio clip:
TEACHER LICENSE REQUIREMENTS PROVE TO BE A BARRIER FOR SOME
School districts in Mississippi are facing a significant teacher shortage. But as MPB’s Alexis Ware reports, some believe there are barriers to becoming a licensed teacher in the state.
“Here’s a guy, me, who’s taught 11 years in community colleges I taught a year at Jackson Prep and I can’t get a job teaching.”
That’s Brett Shufelt. He is a former community college history professor who is now trying to find work as a teacher in Mississippi.
“I’ve got to jump through all these administrative hoops and go through this year long program that I have to pay for so I can I guess learn how to handle a classroom.”
State law requires all teachers to be licensed. Teachers can become licensed through a traditional higher education degree. Cory Murphy is with the Mississippi Department of Education.
“All the program require testing all of them require training or training program to be completed in coursework and internships for the most part.”
There are also non-traditional alternate route programs. These allow applicants with a bachelor’s degree to go through classes to obtain a teaching license. Jay Howell is with the Alternate Route Licensure Program at the University of Southern Mississippi. He says these requirements benefit students.
“There need to be some barriers to getting into the classroom because we don’t want just anyone to spend those hours every day with students; we want competent teachers with appropriate content knowledge and teaching skill.”
The state Department of Education says 48 districts currently qualify as Critical Shortage Areas.
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