Editorial: Expanding arena of who can teach still boils down to those who ‘can’

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona lawmakers are taking heat for opening doors to allow more people to become school teachers.

Already, state law allows people who have special expertise in science, technology, engineering or math to teach. Now, pending the governor’s signature, the law will be expanded to those who have “expertise in a content area or subject matter.”

Critics of the move claim the governor and lawmakers are lowering the standards of those qualified to teach.

Others would contend they are, in some cases, actually raising the standards. There is an old saying that “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” While it’s never fair to paint all people in one profession with the same brush, it’s definitely true that there are those who teach specialized subjects who would be unable to hold up their end of the stick in the workplace where that specialized subject is an essential job skill.

We’ve seen it before at both the high school and college level with those who teach journalism classes, knowing full well that teacher would not be able to cut it in a newsroom.

By the same token, there are plenty of good working journalists who would fall on their face when confronted with the challenge of teaching their job skill-set to a classroom of teens. What many teachers lack in workplace experience, they more than make up for with their ability to inspire, effectively communicate and give students the ability to believe in themselves.

The same holds true for various professions across the board.

What is encouraging about this move to open doors for more people to enter the teaching profession is that it takes the bureaucracy out of the teacher selection process. It provides a measure of local control over a non-traditional teacher’s professional development. It exempts a test of professional proficiency for those who want to come in through the back door to the teaching profession. It puts the decision on who is qualified in the lap of local school superintendents instead of the state Department of Education, which – it bears emphasis -- is a joke to many in the teaching profession.

Further, it creates the same kind of playing field for professionals who want to enter the teaching profession as it does for school teachers who want to test their skills in a non-teaching workplace.

The proof is in performance. You rise to the occasion and you prove you belong, or you find a new job.

You prove you “can.”

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