The Benefits of Alternative Licensing

By Neal Cross

You probably have an alternative teacher licensing program in your state. These programs allow people without education backgrounds to become teachers in your classrooms.

I once was skeptical of alternative licensing programs. As a traditionally trained teacher, I couldn’t imagine entering the profession in any other manner. I also was suspicious that legislation creating such programs was aimed at doing more than addressing teacher shortages.

I believed the programs were intended to diminish the influence of university teacher preparation programs and ease the pressure on federal, state, and local governments to improve teacher salaries and working conditions.

In spite of my apprehensions, I took a job as the coordinator of the Teacher-in-Residence program in Colorado Springs, Colo., a joint program of the Pikes Peak BOCES and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. I worked as the coordinator for five years, and have since moved on to another position. After this experience, I now strongly believe that school districts should consider affiliating with alternative licensing programs as part of their efforts to fill teacher vacancies.

What changed my mind? The people. I became fascinated with the widely diverse and highly motivated individuals who showed up at my door. Often driven by long-held dreams, these people told amazing stories about their long and circuitous route to becoming a teacher.

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