By LaKeshia N. Myers
See Doug run. See Doug win. See Doug screw up. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has laid bare part of the upcoming Republican playbook for 2022-23—teacher licensure requirements. Last week, in an unprecedented move, he signed into law an education measure decreeing that public school teachers are no longer required to have a college degree of any kind before being hired. Yes, you read that correctly–Arizona teachers will only have to be enrolled in college in order to begin teaching the state’s public school students.
It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. As a certified educator I caution states to beware following the Arizona model. Not since the early Common School Era have restrictions become so loose for teaching standards. The professionalization of teaching was one that grew out of necessity with our society. Most Americans clearly understand that one cannot call themselves a teacher if they do not have adequate education and credentials. But clearly not Doug Ducey, he would allow a first semester freshman to teach third grade.
An attack on teacher credentialing has been afoot for the past few months, with conservative mouthpieces like Christopher Rufo (the architect of the anti-Critical Race Theory movement) has called on state lawmakers to rescind requirements that teachers hold education degrees, claiming that master’s programs in education only exposed future teachers to left-wing ideology. Instead, Rufo argued, public schools should only require bachelor’s degrees for new hires, predicting that in time school officials would come to view applicants with advanced degrees as suspicious: Don’t “hire the ones with the masters, because those are the crazies.”
Not surprising coming from a person who only has a bachelors degree, but wants to dictate what is taught in higher education.
As an educator and one who has gone through the process to earn advanced degrees for the purposes of professional advancement and depth of knowledge, I caution lawmakers who seek to go down this path. Yes, there is a teacher shortage—we’ve had a teacher shortage for the past twenty years. No, we don’t need to loosen standards to the point that we allow any Tom, Dick, or Doug to stand in front of a classroom.