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WV House OKs lowering teacher criteria; non-fully certified teachers teach 38% 7th-11th grade math courses


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, addresses the House of Delegates on Tuesday. “What we’re doing here is we’re devaluing, we’re devaluing what our teachers do for us and what they mean to us,” Hornbuckle said.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Ryan Quinn)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The day after a West Virginia Department of Education presentation revealed that 38 percent of public school math courses in grades seven through 11 are taught by “non-fully certified teachers,” the House of Delegates passed 50-48 a bill that would lower requirements to become an alternatively certified teacher.

House Bill 4407, which now heads to the Senate, would erase the requirement that those wanting to become teachers through alternative certification must already have an “academic major or occupational area the same as or similar to the subject matter” they wish to teach.

The bill had already passed out of the House Education Committee, the only House committee it was sent to, before the education department officials’ Monday presentation to that committee on teacher vacancies.

But concerns about West Virginia teacher vacancies were already being voiced this session amid Democrats’ push for higher teacher pay raises than what Republicans have supported and amid talk of a possible statewide teacher strike over pay, health insurance benefit cuts and other issues.

Monday’s presentation to House Education focused on the often-cited over 700 “teacher vacancies” number, but what’s counted in the exact 727 figure is complex. The department itself presented lawmakers a document with a title saying the 727 represented “professional positions not filled with full-time, fully certified employees,” and noted the number was “as of October 1.”

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