Education Licensure Certificate Act

Introduction

The radical education establishment, which includes foundations, bureaucrats, and accreditors, uses bureaucratic licensure requirements as a central tool to gain power over America’s classrooms. These licensure requirements force teachers and education administrators to undergo extensive training in education school pedagogy, and little in subject matter content. The radical establishment, disconnected from real-world classrooms, uses the requirements to restrict entry to progressive ideologues and careerists who can mouth politically correct buzzwords such as equity and social justice. They also generally reduce the supply of teachers and education administrators and waste the time and money of would-be teachers by requiring them to learn a hollow curriculum rather than subject matter content knowledge or directly applicable knowledge of cognitive psychology and statistics. A growing number of empirical studies have found that certified teachers don’t increase student learning—and America’s leading private schools choose the best teachers without regard to certification.  The education licensure process requires great simplification, to deal with both the radical education establishment’s revolutionary goals and with the education system’s expensive dysfunction.

The Education Licensure Certificate Act creates a new, simplified education licensure pathway, which requires students to take a number of undergraduate courses, focused on subject matter content, as well as a standardized test focused on subject matter content—and no other requirements, such as an undergraduate degree or an education major. The Act then establishes temporary or provisional certificates for candidates who are still taking these courses and certificates of Professional Mastery for candidates who have taken further courses and tests focused on subject matter content. To facilitate access to this licensure pathway, the Act directs the State Board of Education to include as many courses as possible that are also components of the Core Transfer Curriculum. The Act finally forbids the State Board from including politicized requirements such as discriminatory concepts or service-learning.

We make our recommendations aware that there are three schools of education reform, all of which seek to dislodge the education schools from their central role in education licensure, but which seek very different forms of policy reform.

One school seeks to create a more qualified body of teachers and education administrators, by requiring them to receive undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in their subject matter expertise, as well as by creating standardized tests with rigorous subject matter content. This school bases its recommendations upon the best practices of America’s peers in Europe and East Asia.

Another school seeks to simplify all requirements, including eliminating undergraduate degrees as a requirement, so as to focus on removing as many institutional roadblocks as possible from getting teachers into the classroom.

A third school seeks to eliminate education licensure entirely, and to remove the state government from the business of licensing teachers and education administrators.

We sympathize with all three schools of education reform. We think the third school worth serious consideration in the long run, but we believe that some form of state licensure is likely to continue in the short and medium term. We therefore have drafted our model Act to reform the education licensure system rather than to eliminate it.

While we sympathize deeply with the goal of stiffening subject matter requirements for teacher licensure, we are also aware that the radical education establishment also has seized control of the commanding heights of America’s universities, and not just the education schools. At this point, to require teachers to receive an undergraduate or graduate degree with a subject-matter major will still risk forcing them to endure large amounts of radical brainwashing.

We therefore have included elements of both stiffening and simplifying in our reform plan. We require candidates to take large numbers of undergraduate subject matter courses, and to pass a standardized test, but we require them to possess no degree beyond a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency. Our Act would create a corps of teachers with substantially increased preparation in the subject matters they teach, without years captive in education departments and schools, and without a hollow and expensive credential.

Our Act will not solve every aspect of teacher education. It does not solve the problem of politicized and softened undergraduate courses in subject matter disciplines. It does not guarantee that the State Board of Education will do more than pay lip service to the requirement to devise a standardized test. (The State Board of Education should establish bipartisan commissions to create the parameters for these tests.) Perhaps most importantly, we require that the State Board of Education create these new education licensure pathways—but we do not forbid it from preserving traditional education licensure pathways. (A more radical version of this Act might eliminate these traditional pathways entirely.) It is entirely possible that a network of education majors in the schools and the State Board of Education would continue to provide informal advantages for career advancement to fellow education majors.

We recommend this model Act, therefore, as a necessary part of education licensure reform—but not a final one.

Notes

Added Requirements: Different Tracks

Our model does not distinguish between tracks for elementary, middle, and high school teaching, or between requirements for the humanities and the sciences. We recognize, however, that many states do make these distinctions, and that many education programs provide subject matter requirements that are substantially more rigorous than those our model provides. We do not oppose a modification of the model Act to differentiate between these categories—to require, for example, that K-6 teachers should take 6 subject matter courses, middle school teachers 9 subject matter courses, high school teachers 12 subject matter courses, and science teachers 15 subject matter courses. (In effect, this would require all high school teachers and science teachers to possess the Professional Mastery certificate we outline in Section A, Subsection 3.) Nor do we oppose administrative action by State Boards of Education to differentiate between these categories—so long as such differentiations are not used to undermine the spirit of the Act.

At the same time, we are wary that such tracking will give license to education schools to provide less intensive instruction in each class—to provide 6 courses worth of instruction in 15 classes, and thereby to extract even more tuition dollars from would-be high-school and science teachers. State policymakers should make sure that if they provide more intensive requirements for certain licensure tracks that they also provide a simpler “mastery option”—that, for example, a candidate who scores sufficiently well on a standardized test does not need to take any further classes beyond the basic requirement of six undergraduate content matter courses.

Added Requirements: Miscellaneous

Our model eliminates virtually all requirements beyond taking a set number of classes. We have done so to remove all means that the education establishment may use to impose ideological requirements. Yet we do not mean simply to eliminate all requirements, including those that may be useful—such as, for example, Arizona’s requirement that teachers complete a required class or pass a satisfactory examination on the provisions and principles of the Constitutions of the United States and Arizona. We encourage state policymakers to examine their existing education licensure requirements and adapt our model bill to incorporate requirements of this nature.

Statistics and Cognitive Psychology

We believe that the best education courses focus on the practicalities of classroom management, or, if more theoretical, introduce teachers to education pedagogy founded on a thorough knowledge of statistics and cognitive psychology. We have not put this preference into the form of legislative language, but policymakers should consider whether it might be practical to do so.

Work Experience

Some states allow would-be teachers to substitute work experience for undergraduate credentials. Our model bill, which focuses on allowing an alternate licensure pathway by means of undergraduate classes and standardized tests, does not include the possibility to substitute work experience for some or all of these classes. Our intent was to provide a simple model—but we do not oppose allowing work experience to substitute for undergraduate classwork in our proposed licensure pathway, and we encourage state policymakers to consider that option. States that already allow work experience to qualify applicants for teacher licensure certainly should make sure that they adapt our model to incorporate work experience as a substitute for undergraduate classwork.

Misconduct

Our model bill requires “background and fingerprint clearance checks.” This language, which we have adopted from existing requirements in several states, is meant to provide the means to bar would-be teachers who have committed crimes and misdemeanors—above all, to bar would-be teachers who have committed misconduct toward minors. This language also is meant to provide the states the means to revoke certification of teachers who commit such crimes and misdemeanors. We expect that state policymakers will adapt our model bill to ensure that our streamlined requirements do not conflict with state laws that keep criminal offenders out of the schools.

Model Legislative Text

SECTION A [Education Licensure Pathways]

  1. The State Board of Education shall create education licensure pathways for each teaching and administrative certificate that shall:

a. require no more than eight undergraduate courses of three semester hours each, of which at least six must be courses in subject matter content and no more than two may be courses in education pedagogy;

b. require passage of a standardized test, at least 80% of whose questions must assess subject matter content;

c. require no degree beyond a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

d. require no more than one year of experience teaching full-time at a K-12 school;

e. require background and fingerprint clearance checks; and

f. shall have no other requirements.

2. The State Board of Education shall issue temporary or provisional certificates in each education licensure pathway to candidates who:

a. possess a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency; and

b. are currently taking any of the eight undergraduate courses mention in Section A, Subsection 1, Item a.

3. The State Board of Education shall create education licensure pathways for Professional Mastery in each teaching and administrative certificate that shall:

a. require no more than eight additional undergraduate courses of three semester hours each, of which at least six must be courses in subject matter content and no more than two may be courses in education pedagogy;

b. require passage of a standardized test, at least 80% of whose questions must assess subject matter content;

c. require no degree beyond a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

d. require no more than three years of experience teaching full-time at a K-12 school; 

e. require background and fingerprint clearance checks; and

f. shall have no other requirements.

4. The State Board of Education shall seek to include among the required courses for these education licensure pathways as many courses as possible that are also components of the Core Transfer Curriculum.

5. The State Board of Education may not include in these education licensure pathways any course, or other requirement, that teaches, instructs, trains, requires, or advantages any candidate to practice, adopt, or affirm a belief in:

a. any discriminatory concepts, or in any pedagogies that require assent to any of these discriminatory concepts;

b. the so-called systemic nature of racism, or like ideas, or in the so-called multiplicity or fluidity of gender identities, or like ideas, or in any pedagogies that require assent to any of these concepts;

c. concepts such as allyship, diversity, social justice, sustainability, systemic racism, gender identity, equity, or inclusion, or to any ideology or pedagogy that classifies individuals within identity groups, divides identity groups into oppressed and oppressors, or prescribes advantages, disadvantages, or segregation based upon identity group membership, or to any other ideology, pedagogy, principle, concept, or formulation that requires commitment to any belief or policy that is the subject of political controversy; or

d. service-learning, or any other pedagogy that involves social or public policy advocacy.

SECTION B [Special Education]

No section of this bill shall be construed to prohibit training or instruction in the delivery of special education, nor inhibit the differentiation of instructional services based upon a student’s disability or academic proficiency, including any training or preparation that focuses on the inclusion of special education students in general education or the provision of separate instructional services.

SECTION C [Exceptions]

No section of this law shall prevent educational personnel from classifying students or educational personnel by enrollment status, citizenship status, or biological sex.

SECTION D [Definitions]

  1. “Discriminatory concepts” means any of the following concepts:

a. one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; 

b. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; 

c. an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of the individual’s race; 

d. members of one race cannot or should not attempt to treat others without respect to race; 

e. an individual’s moral standing or worth is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; 

f. an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; 

g. an individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; 

h. meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race; 

i. fault, blame, or bias should be assigned to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex; or

j. that the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States; or

k. that, with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.

2. “Service learning” means a method— (A) under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that— (i) is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; (ii) is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and (iii) helps foster civic responsibility; and (B) that— (i) is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and (ii) provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience.

SECTION E [Separability]

If any provision of this chapter, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this chapter and the application of its provisions to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.

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