In school classrooms across the state, Governor Phil Bryant says real change must start with demands for it.
"I think we should aspire to have better teachers," said Bryant.
Bryant says legislation filed at the capitol would do just that by placing requirements on anyone who wants to become a teacher. As part of his education agenda, Bryant wants a minimum ACT score of 21 and a 3.0 GPA before anyone can enroll into a teaching program at any of the state's public universities.
Bryant points to research from the statewide data system, Mississippi Lifetracks, showing the better the teacher's ACT score, the more likely students are to succeed.
"Now, that's not rocket science," said Bryant. "Nobody should struggle trying to figure that out. A better teacher produces better students."
Kevin Gilbert, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators agrees standards need to be in place but says those requirements cause concern.
"It's going to lower the pool of people who want and will be able to teach," said Gilbert.
Numbers from the state college board show if Bryant's proposed requirements were in effect today, half of the students enrolled in teaching programs would not have qualified to be there. Gilbert says that would add to an existing problem.
"We're already dealing with a teacher shortage in Mississippi so we need to work on ways that are going to help alleviate our teacher shortage and put effective people in the classroom," said Gilbert.
Bryant says providing incentives, like merit pay, would help attract more people to become teachers. He even wants the state to pay for the education of teaching majors with an ACT score of 28 or higher.
"We're saying put a good teacher in the classroom and you will receive a better high qualified student," said Bryant.
Before imposing requirements, Gilbert says there needs to be input from education leaders.
"We don't want it to be a barrier to invite people into our profession. We want to put standards that are firm consistent and fair," said Gilbert.
Bryant says he expects the legislation to pass both chambers and will sign it into law when it gets to his desk.
Monday, May 20 2013 8:21 PM EDT2013-05-21 00:21:00 GMT
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