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N.C. Legislature Declines To Attempt Veto Override, For Now

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state House adjourned a special session Wednesday after just 10 minutes without taking a vote to override a veto of a teacher licensing bill.

Gov. Mike Easley vetoed

House Bill 706

last month that would allow any teacher deemed "highly qualified" in another state to be licensed in North Carolina. He argued the measure would lower standards and hurt students.

House Democrats met Monday night and Tuesday before agreeing to study the matter with local superintendents and other legislators.

House Republicans unsuccessfully called Wednesday for a vote on sending a bill to committee.

House Speaker Jim Black and Senate leader Marc Basnight announced Tuesday they will form a committee to resolve differences between state education officials and sponsors of the licensing bill rejected by Easley. The panel will include legislators, state education board members and educators.

Both legislative chambers approved the bill in August by wide margins. If those margins stood, lawmakers would have the three-fifths majority needed to cancel Easley's veto and make the bill law.

But Black, D-Mecklenburg, prefers not to hand fellow Democrat Easley a defeat.

The decision doesn't eliminate the option of a veto override later if a compromise can't be reached. The Legislature could act on the bill as late as next year.

The bill vetoed by Easley would designate out-of-state schoolteachers as "highly qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act if they earned that distinction in their prior states. The bill also would remove a requirement that new middle school and high school teachers pass standardized subject matter tests.

Easley contends that accepting other states' certifications would lead to a decline in teacher quality. The measure also usurps authority from the State Board of Education, he said.

The education board last week passed what was billed as a compromise proposal to avoid an override. The new policy would give a full North Carolina license to out-of-state teachers with at least three years experience if they are hired back by their local districts after one year of teaching here.

A change in board policy in April also made passing the standardized test one of four ways for a teacher with less than three years experience to gain certification.

But bill sponsors said school boards facing chronic teachers shortages - about 9,000 per year recently - want an even less cumbersome process to hire teachers from other states.

At a minimum, Black and Basnight say, certified teachers from states at least equal to those in North Carolina should be immediately licensed.

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