AFT-NH Testimony on HB 1298 Relative to the Licensing of Part-time Teachers
From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH
Thank you, Chair Ladd and Members of the House Education Committee. Thank you for reading my testimony.
My name is Debrah Howes. I am president of the American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire. I am here to speak on behalf of our 3700 members across the state, as well as the students, families and communities we serve. Our members include preK through 12 public school educators and support staff, university faculty as well as town employees. I am here today to testify in opposition to HB 1298 Relative to the Licensing of Part-time Teachers.
We all want to give our public school students the best possible start on their journey of lifelong learning. We want them to have access to high quality materials presented by trained professional teachers as well as experiential and hands on learning to fuel their curiosity. To get this best start, our public school students deserve professional, credentialed educators because teaching is a highly skilled profession that requires not just content area expertise, but also communication skills, classroom management skills and knowledge of how children or adolescents develop and learn. While we appreciate that some may view hiring part-time employees who may have particular knowledge in a content area as a good solution to the current teacher shortage, it would actually be shortchanging public school students, yet again.
Teaching requires more than just knowledge of a particular content area. It also involves the ability to communicate clearly, and in a manner that engages student interest, draws them in and makes them curious to learn more. Having drawn students in with a hook, a teacher must then direct the students to an assignment that allows them to dig into appropriate resources to learn, do, and experience more on the topic. And of course, teachers must communicate clearly what the intended outcomes are: how is the student going to show what he or she has learned, and what the deadlines are. Teachers, part-time or not, must be skilled in designing assignments to match the competencies, breaking down assignments into smaller pieces for students who get “stuck,” and troubleshooting to help guide students to how they can get unstuck. An uncertified part-time content presenter does not have these skills.
Teachers must also work to motivate students to start their work, continue their work, or complete their work and turn it in. Teachers must design formative assessments to check in with student learning to see if they ARE understanding the content. If not, additional lessons must be planned. Knowledge of how children and adolescents learn is required to be able to teach effectively. Knowledge of child and adolescent developmental stages is also helpful when it comes to classroom management. On top of these professional teaching skills, teachers must also manage students to keep behaviors from flaring up. Just because someone is knowledgeable about computer coding, for example, doesn’t mean they can avoid getting draw into a pointless battle of wills with a sixth grader who doesn’t want to listen or follow directions. Certified teachers must be able to show proficiency at managing these kinds of behaviors during internships and student teaching. Uncertified, part-time employees would come in totally unprepared, which could result in a very bad experience for students.
The idea that full time teaching staff would supervise part-time uncredentialed employees is totally unworkable for two reasons. First of all, full time teachers already have more than enough on their plates. They have a difficult enough time getting their current jobs done teaching the students in their own class and still having enough time and energy left for their own families. It has already reached a point where many full time teachers are being driven out of the filled by the totally overwhelming time demands to fill all existing gaps in an under resourced system. Asking full-time teachers to supervise part-time uncredentialed employees, who might be skilled in content but are total novices at teaching is unreasonable and not in the best interest of students. Also, collective bargaining agreements prohibit teachers from being placed in a position of supervision and evaluation over other teachers.
Part-time uncertified employees would not have the tool kit certified teachers develop through their teacher preparation programs, practicums, student teaching, internships, and years on the job. Teaching is an art, craft, and skill as much as it is the knowledge of content that one is trying to convey to the student. When you have uncertified teachers, it is the students who lose. In fact, research shows that having an uncertified teacher is equivalent to losing 2 months of instructional time each year. Don’t shortchange our public school students!
For all these reasons, it does not make sense to allow noncredentialled individuals, who are not professional teachers to work in our public schools and call themselves educators. Our students deserve to have their needs considered and they deserve professional, credentialed teachers.
I urge you to find HB 1298 Inexpedient to Legislate.
President, AFT-New Hampshire