RALEIGH — North Carolina lawmakers are trying to give schools more options in hiring teachers.
With rural and low-performing schools struggling to keep teachers, legislators are inventing new ways to recruit them. House Bill 634, Private Alternative Teacher Preparation, would let professionals begin teaching while meeting certification requirements through private colleges.
The state has a similar program, but that route limits schools and teaching candidates, said Terry Stoops, vice president of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
“Currently, lateral-entry teachers must complete their licensure requirements through an approved postsecondary teacher education program or a Regional Alternative Licensing Center. This much-needed bill would give lateral entry teachers even more options for those undertaking the demanding process of meeting those requirements,” he said.
Additionally, only a few areas of the state are approved to hire lateral-entry teachers, a problem for struggling schools outside those regions, said Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, the bill’s primary sponsor.
H.B. 634 would change that.
The bill removes regional limits, allowing any Local Education Authority in the state to decide whether to accept lateral-entry teachers, Hardister said.
People still would meet requirements laid out by the State Board of Community Colleges and the State Board of Education, but training could be completed at both public and private colleges.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson would recruit eligible private schools to participate in the program, and the North Carolina State Board of Education would approve five.
Johnson, who supports the program, met with bill sponsors during the draft process, Hardister said.
The state board wasn’t consulted, but the proposal is met with goodwill, said Chairman Bill Cobey.
“Even if we were not in desperate need of attracting more highly qualified people to the teaching profession, I would personally support this type of innovation,” Cobey told Carolina Journal.
H.B. 634 only adds options for schools that need more teachers, Hardister said.
“This would approve the lateral entry organizations to operate statewide, but then it’s up to the LEAs to decide if they want to participate, so they’re not forced to do it. There are some LEAs that have shortages of teachers, some more so than others. …That’s the impetus of this bill, to provide the LEAs options.”