The budget also made attempts to address the growing teacher shortage by implementing a new Local Alternative Teacher Preparation Program, and by granting districts the ability to hire adjunct Career and Technical Education faculty.
Lateral entry has been a way for non-educators who hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree to obtain a provisional teaching license and complete additional college coursework within three years to obtain a standard professional license.
The pilot program included in the budget will give local boards of education the ability to provide the coursework in the form of professional development created in collaboration with community colleges, colleges and universities. Teachers with alternative licenses may use this professional development as credit towards a continuing license.
The program is only open to districts with at least 20,000 students, and it will run from 2017-2018 through 2021-2022.
While it is growing ever more difficult for principals to find qualified teacher applicants, the need is even more acute in the specialized areas of Career and Technical Education. The budget created a pathway that directs the State Board of Education to develop minimum hiring criteria for adjunct faculty for CTE programs.
These adjunct teachers will not need to hold a teaching license, but they will need to pass a background check and receive some preservice training on identifying students with disabilities, positive management of student behavior, effective communication to defuse disruptive and dangerous behavior, and appropriate use of seclusion or restraint.
Both of these initiatives are designed to make it easier for non-teaching professionals to use their expertise in the classroom. While it’s important to safeguard the pre-teaching preparation process, North Carolina has reached a point where teacher shortage is acute. Mid-career professionals with subject matter expertise shouldn’t have to go seek an entirely new degree to teach, but they should be required to meet a minimum standard of practical training.