Educators respond to Life Teaching Licensure proposal - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Educators respond to Life Teaching Licensure proposal

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Troy Gunderson Troy Gunderson
Kim Volden Kim Volden
Mark White Mark White
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

One component of Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal could grant teachers lifetime licensure.

Troy Gunderson, Superintendent of the West Salem School District said it's a law that was previously in place 34 years ago. 

As of July 1, 1983, life teaching licenses in the state of Wisconsin were no longer issued by the Wisconsin Department of Public Institution. However, growth continues to serve as a motive for salary compensation and development.

Walker proposes lifetime teaching licenses

"It's not reasonable to think a twenty-two year old who just arrived here from the university is going to have the same skill set as some one who's been here for fifteen years, how do you get them caught up," said Gunderson.

Right now, that gap is filled with a five year license renewal, Professional Development Plan (PDP), and requiring teachers to take college credits on a regular basis-all techniques that help ensure teachers are qualified. 

Despite these efforts, Gunderson said it's clear something needs to be done to address the drastic shortage of educators in the state.

"We all need to think about ways in which we can keep people working part-time as the baby boomers age out. There's obviously not enough people to replace the amount of people teaching who are in their fifties," added Gunderson.

Kim Volden has worked as an English Teacher at West Salem High School for the past 14 years and said the biggest priority is training qualified personnel.

"If the lifetime licensure goes through, it's really going to be up to the districts and the teachers to work together to make sure that those qualified individuals are in the classroom with kids. And also to make sure that teachers stay current because kids change. The kids that I have right now are not the same group of kids I had ten years ago," expressed Volden.

"In the five year cycle of renewal there's a background check and a couple things that are done, that the state is doing they're just making sure everything has come through correctly and that might not happen and might fall back on the district. So how would we go about doing that?" said Mark White, Director of Human Resources for the School District of La Crosse.

Despite looming questions, there's one thing that's for certain.

"Teaching is difficult, it's a tough profession. But if you love it and if it's something that every day is your calling to do, it can be incredibly rewarding," added Volden.

Although it's not yet clear if Walker's proposal will gain enough support to pass, it's a viable attempt to address the shortage.

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