I support alternative licensure because it provides a cost effective way for talented teachers who obtained their degree and experience in other fields to offer a high quality education to today’s students. On the university level it is virtually unheard of for a non-expert to teach a significant course (anything other than freshman / entry level courses, which are often taught by graduate students), whereas in the high school system more than half of math and science teachers are teaching courses in which they do not possess a major, much less any professional experience.
A secondary education degree typically requires a minor with at least 18 hours in the subject area – which often isn’t enough to develop a true understanding, much less passion, for the given subject. When this is contrasted with someone who is an expert in their field, who can bring passion for the subject and real life experience to answer the question,
“Why do I have to learn this” – it seems that the alternatively licensed teachers are already better prepared than the newly graduated educators. Some teachers argue that it is essential to study the developmental stages and classroom management in order to teach effectively, but in truth no child will ever fit a text book and classroom management is very much an OJT skill.
Professionals who love their subject area will be able to instill that love in some of their students, just as professional educators who teach for the love of education are able to instill the love of learning in general in many of their students. Alternative licensure also provides higher quality education simply by producing more available teachers. Smaller student teacher ratios increase the quality in virtually any classroom, and a dearth of educators in high need fields have many of these classes approaching 35 to 40 students (or more!) in some high need districts.
If these additional teachers were forced to go through the normal certification procedure, the odds are very good that they would simply continue in their original profession and leave educating to those people who planned to teach from the beginning.