Monday, May 5, 2008

Thank you Governor Blunt!

I first went to Missouri two and a half years ago and knew nothing about the legislative process. I learned the hard way. We didn’t even get our bill out of committee that year. But last Thursday I was standing next to Governor Matt Blunt as he signed the very first bill he approved this legislative session – the bill to allow ABCTE. A very hard fought victory to help school districts with their teacher shortages. Once the politics is done, the real work takes over.

Due to the press coverage the Governor received in signing the bill, over 400 Missourians have asked for more information about our alternative certification program and we have now had 11 enrollments in the first week from Missouri. Our enrollments include 4 biology candidates, 1 physics candidate, 1 general science, 1 math and the rest in English. Last year, Missouri ed schools graduated 5 potential physics teachers for the entire state. We just increased that by 20%. Not bad for a days work.

I got to meet one of our new potential Missouri teachers. She wanted to teach but did not have the money to pay to take the large amount of course work required by a so-called alternative teacher certification program. She also couldn’t sacrifice the time away from her family.

From the St. Louis Today article about the bill signing: “Heather Meert of Imperial holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and credit toward her PhD. She loves working as a substitute teacher for the Fox School District, but it would take a couple of years and thousands of dollars to actually get certified to teach. "I have all this education, and it didn't make sense for me to go back to school," she said.”

Too many people like Heather don’t get into teaching because of the cost and time required for so much course work. The immediate interest in our program in Missouri demonstrates that a streamlined, yet rigorous, alternative certification can attract more great talent into teaching. And the principals who hired out teachers are pretty happy that talent is there.

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