Kansas State Board of Education considers hiring unlicensed teachers

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Kansas State Board of Education is discussing plans to hire 15 teachers in Wyandotte County, who do not meet the state's teacher preparation requirements.

Some of those candidates are receiving intense training at Schlagle High School to work in the classroom this fall.

The 15 job seekers are not licensed to teach in Kansas or any other state. But they would be allowed in classrooms in August as part of a program that's designed to stimulate innovation by easing regulations.

The candidates are receiving six weeks of training this summer with some of the district's master teachers. Some of that is taking place during the summer school program at Schlagle.

During the next two years, these unconventional teachers will pursue master's degrees at Pittsburg State University that will allow them to earn the teaching certificates they need to continue their careers.

"We are looking for people with professional degrees in specific fields, particularly math, science, engineering and technology fields," said David Smith of KCK public schools. "We know from experience, because we have done it before, that we can give them the teaching practice skills they need to be successful in the classroom. They bring with them background and content knowledge that our kids need."

KCK has had trouble filling positions with certified teachers. During the last school year, the district had four unfilled math teaching positions and six unfilled biology and general science slots. Robert Carpenter hopes to help change that. He has a degree in environmental biology and an MBA. But he's not certified to teach in Kansas. Still he expects to begin his new career in the classroom as a sceince teacher at Washington High School.

"I had never had any formal teaching whatsoever," Carpenter said. "So when this opportunity arose it gives people like me, who don’t have that teaching certificate, an opportunity to get into the program."

KCK Public Schools also believe the political turmoil in Topeka over funding K-12 education makes teaching positions in the Sunflower State less attractive to qualified candidates.