Local News

Education Board Votes In Favor Of Out-Of-State Teaching Policy

Posted October 6, 2005 7:54 a.m. EDT

— State school board members hope a broader policy on allowing out-of-state teachers in North Carolina classrooms will satisfy state lawmakers and keep the General Assembly from reconvening to override the governor's veto of a major education bill.

The N.C. State Board of Education passed a policy Thursday that relaxes standards for teachers coming to the state to get teaching licenses without compromising quality.

"The Legislature will not waste taxpayers' money and come back to town to do something this board has already done," school board chair Howard Lee said during Thursday's meeting in Charlotte.

The policy, adopted by an unanimous vote, allows out-of-state teachers to teach in North Carolina without a certification exam if they have taken and passed a similar exam and if they meet North Carolina's teaching standards. It also allows an out-of-state teacher with at least three years of teaching experience to be licensed in North Carolina after a year of local classroom evaluation.

"We frankly think this is a progressive step forward," Lee said.

Last week, Gov. Mike Easley vetoed

House Bill 706,

which would designate out-of-state teachers as "highly qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act if they earned that distinction in their prior states.

The bill would also remove a requirement that new middle-school and high-school teachers pass standardized subject matter tests.

Easley said the bill lowered the state's education standards, and he worried that the bill would send a message that other states' standards were good enough for North Carolina and could lead to a decline in teacher quality.

State school board members hope that by passing the policy, they are brokering a compromise to the bill that would keep lawmakers from overriding the governor's veto.

Easley already has said he supports the compromise.

"The last thing we need to do is spend energy on this kind of political fight instead of focusing on the classroom and what our children need in North Carolina," school board member Melissa Bartlett said.

But not everyone agrees that the board's new policy will be enough to keep the Legislature at bay or stave off a continuing teacher shortage.

"We appreciate any effort among state leaders to address the teacher shortage, but we think the policy enacted today is too little too late," said Katherine Joyce, a representative of the N.C. Association of School Administrators.

Easley has until Oct. 12 to call the Legislature back into session. The only way to avoid this under the North Carolina constitution is for three-fifths of the General Assembly to write in and say they do not wish to override the governor's veto.

Rep. Doug Yongue, D-Scotland, one of the House Bill 706's primary sponsors, said he still supports trying to enact the Legislature's bill. The board's new policy is "making progress but it's not getting there," Yongue said.