We’ve all heard the complaint: our economy needs more skilled workers, particularly in the technical and vocational trades. One of the factors contributing to that challenge is a serious shortage of individuals at the K-12 level with the skills to teach vocational subjects. If teachers are not available to introduce students to these fields of study, students are not exposed to these fields in their early education and it is unlikely that they will consider them as viable careers after they graduate.
Licenses based on real-life experiences
This year, MMAC worked to help address this leak in our “talent pipeline” by creating a new class of “experience-based” teacher licenses for individuals with real life experience in technical and vocational fields.Terri Phillips, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance, explained the need for these changes before the Assembly’s Education Committee. “Our [school] districts have had great success finding mid-career professionals who are seeking
an opportunity to teach their skills to students in the classroom…Because these candidates are still connected with the working world, there are more opportunities for internships, apprenticeships and other real life experiences.”However, Phillips noted, “The current path to [teacher] licensure is expensive, long and too much to ask of a professional. Some of the licensure requirements are often irrelevant to what our teachers really need to know.”Alternative path to the classroom
By creating an alternative path to the classroom for these professionals in technical fields, our legislative efforts are already paying dividends for schools and for teachers like Craig Griffie, a technology education teacher at Brown Deer Middle/High School.“Now that I have the Experience Based Tech Ed teaching license, and no longer need to take night classes that have no application to my classroom, I actually have the time to advance my curriculum and to network with local businesses in the Brown Deer community,” said Griffie. “This means that my students have the attention of more of my non-teaching hours, so our projects are more rigorous and the learning is richer.”

We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Walker and state Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and state Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), the Legislative co-authors of these measures.

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