A section of Wisconsin's upcoming budget contains a proposal that would allow teachers to be certified even if they do not hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.
Under the proposal, anyone who wishes could teach students in middle and high school — grades six to 12 — on non-core subjects. Core subjects, such as math, English, science and social studies, would still require the teacher to hold a bachelor’s degree, the Journal Times reported.
The proposal was added to the state budget at a late hour last week, with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against the measure. The legislation will not advance if the State Assembly and Senate do not pass it, both chambers of which are controlled by Republicans. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, has not indicated whether he will approve or veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
More significantly, Walker’s authority would allow him to rewrite the budget bill once it passes the Legislature, making it easier to add or remove an item as he sees fit.
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If the bill passes, it would make Wisconsin the only state in the country to allow teachers without college degrees to become licensed. The only other state that comes close to these methods is Georgia, which allows a certification of career and technical education teachers to become certified without a degree.
The idea has been widely criticized by teachers’ unions, which are concerned about the quality of education diminishing from the public school system.
“We are sliding toward the bottom in standards for those who teach our students," State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement. "It doesn’t make sense. We have spent years developing licensing standards to improve the quality of the teacher in the classroom, which is the most important school-based factor in improving student achievement. Now we’re throwing out those standards."
Aside from the public school system, the Wisconsin Legislature is also looking at making major cuts to the university system. According to the earliest proposals, Walker is looking to cut the University of Wisconsin’s budget by $300 million over the next two years.
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He has likened the fiscal battle with the state’s largest higher education institution to his battle with the state’s public sector unions, where Walker removed collective bargaining rights for all public employees, infuriating unions but saving the Badger State billions of dollars over the next decade.
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