UNA community reacts to Alabama Board decision

The Alabama Board of Education is allowing uncertified instructors, effective immediately, to teach in public schools K-12, due to a shortage of teachers in the state.

These uncertified instructors, known as adjunct teachers, will work under the supervision of a licensed teacher, according to Alabama State Board of Education documents.

“I would say the greatest challenge for (uncertified teachers) would be understanding the methods of teaching and strategies for working with all learning abilities,” said Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences Donna Lefort.

Lefort said she could also see benefits to this model in certain fields like art, music and career technical classes.

Some shortages are geographic, but some subjects like math and science see more shortages than others. Individuals who pursue careers in math and science can receive higher compensation in fields other than teaching, she said.

There are additional options for individuals who want to teach but do not have a degree in education, Lefort said.

“We do have an alternative master’s program that is designed for professionals, who already hold a bachelor’s degree, to go back to school and become certified professional educators,” Lefort said.

It is most important for students to receive the best possible education from their instructor, Lefort said.

“Bottom line is the students in that classroom deserve the most qualified individual, the best prepared person that is going to give them the most during that class period, in that subject so they can be prepared for college and the workforce,” Lefort said.

UNA alumna and Alabama teacher Rebeccah Canoles said she does not agree with the Alabama Board’s decision.

“Teachers go through four years of higher education at the minimum, plus various Praxis exams and field experiences before they are certified to teach in public schools,” Canoles said. “Allowing someone who has not gone through the same training to teach in schools undervalues all the hard work that certified teachers do to ensure that they are qualified to educate children to the best of their ability.”

UNA alumna and Tennessee teacher Jennifer Thomas said she can see both sides of the resolution.

“I think there are definitely benefits and risks to it,” Thomas said. “I worked so hard and for so long to receive my teaching certificate, so on the inside I’m screaming that it wouldn’t be fair for someone to not go through the program yet still be able to teach.”

“However, there is a part of me that thinks that there are plenty of teachers out there (who) could reach students in ways that we could never imagine,” Thomas said. “And isn’t that what’s most important anyways? Finding the best way to educate our students?”

Education major Alisyn Hayes said she thinks adjunct teachers will not be prepared enough for the classroom.

“Ultimately, I think that the teacher education program is so rigorous for a reason, and allowing people in the classroom without that training could be really detrimental to the students’ achievement,” Hayes said.

“I could see where this could be a good thing for schools struggling to fill positions and seeking out individuals with knowledge of a skill. However, with the lack of classroom management, assessment and instructional training, it may not work out as well as hoped.”