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KS State Board of Education lessens requirement for becoming a teacher

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"I don't know if it's a game changer.  I think only time will tell what the full impact will be," says Howard Smith, dean of PSU's College of Education.

"I think it's a more liberal opening than we've had.  We've had alternative paths and alternative delivery mechanisms before.  But it was still a formalized training process," says Smith.

But Kansas teachers in grades eight through twelve no longer have to have a degree in teaching.  The Kansas State Board of Education will allow someone with a bachelor's degree and at least five yeas of related work experience to teach.  For example, a science industry worker with five years of experience could teach science in high school.

"I think it's good for them to get real world experience.  And I think some of the people who've been in those fields can provide that," says Kaley Warner, a parent.

The state board of education wants to help school districts, like USD 247 in Cherokee, fill voids.

"Seasonally, depending on when openings occur, we can have a hard time trying to find some of the upper echelon math and science teachers, particularly, says Glenn Fortmayer, superintendent of USD 247.

Fortmayer is willing to take advantage of the new state standards.  But he would want non-certified teachers at his school district to study for a teaching degree, at the expense of the school district.

"We have to meet the needs of the kids," says Fortmayer.

But without a teaching degree, teachers may not understand the psychology of students.

Smith says, "One of the things that this program has in front of it that's yet to be realized, is do these folks that think they want to teach, do they really understand what they're getting into?"

So a question still stands:  How important is a specific degree?  The test is ongoing.

This new standard takes effect July 1.  We are being told the Pittsburg School District will still require teachers with a teaching degree.  Click here to see documents from the Kansas State Board of Education and learn more about the new standard.

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