Solutions for America’s ‘Artificial’ Teacher Shortage Depend on Who Is Talking
A policy fellow at the R Street Institute, Shoshana Weissman is an advocate of licensing reform as one means of increasing the available pool of prospective teachers. Ms. Weissman says that all occupational licensing causes “some level” of artificial shortage by excluding unlicensed people.
In education, she says there are three major pools of potential teachers that current licensing laws hinder: non-career teachers, retired teachers, and teachers who have moved between states.
“Maybe we want people with more outside experience who don’t have a degree in teaching,” Ms. Weissman said. An applied mathematician, for example, could be a capable arithmetic teacher; without a license, though, he or she cannot teach in public schools.
Even certified teachers may find that their certification is limited. “Retired professionals often go through extra licensing barriers to get back into the profession,” Ms. Weissman added.
Because each state confers its own licenses, certification can be limited to within one state’s borders.
“If a teacher moves across state lines, they often can’t work,” Ms. Weissman explained. In more than 20 states, teacher certification does not easily transfer, and teachers are required to take additional assessments in order to receive a license in other states.
Ms. Weissman points to Arizona’s universal recognition policy as an example of a successful licensing reform initiative.
“Universal recognition says, ‘Hey, come here, and if you move here, your license can transfer — we just will verify it.’ It’s a really quick process,” she said.