‘We want to help. We want to teach’: Teachers say Nebraska regulations create barriers to getting into classroom

A Lincoln couple with experience teaching in another state wants to help Nebraska’s school staffing shortage. But Desiree Feria Smith and her husband Nicholas said they’re sidelined because of state regulations.”Here are with two teachers capable, willing and because of bureaucracy or red tape we are not able to,” Desiree said.The two taught in Texas for the past three years. “I am certified in bilingual Spanish and early childhood through sixth grade,” Desiree said.Nicholas said they recently returned to Nebraska to be closer to family following the birth of their first child.They were hoping to pick up where they left off.”We want to be here. We want to help. We want to teach,” Nicholas said.But they said state regulations are full of roadblocks. “I received a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration, but neither of those fulfilled the retirements to be a teacher in Nebraska,” Nicholas said.Nicholas said you have to have a bachelor’s degree in education to receive a teaching certificate. In Texas, they were able to take part in a year-long alternative certification process that allowed them to teach. Adrianne Kruger told lawmakers about another obstacle during a hearing before the Legislature’s Education Committee Monday.She’s a junior at Wayne State College and wants to be a teacher.However, even though she gets good grades, a standardized test on core skills, required for entrance into the education program, has kept her from taking courses she needs to graduate.”Within these three years I’ve contemplated changing my major, dropping out of college and finding new avenues to move on,” Kruger said.Others said standardized tests required after graduation are also a costly hurdle that are not needed.”Students who have already shown ability through the ACT and successful completion of college courses should not be facing an expensive test that has no bearing on their future career,” said Nebraska State Education Association President Jenny Benson. Benson and other education leaders support three bills, that modify the testing requirements for teacher certification. LB 690, introduced by State Sen. Tony Vargas, would eliminate all of the standardized tests.”Many states have waived the Praxis exam, or the core subjects exams because they wanted to make sure teachers were getting into classrooms. And what we’re finding is we need to be as nimble as humanly possible,” Vargas said.State Sen. Carol Blood’s LB 690 gives the Nebraska Department of Education the option to use coursework to determine basic skills competency. “They need to given options that the balance is there that the people we hire are qualified,” Blood said.LB 1218 would also include $1,000 loan forgiveness for student teachers.”We’re to the point where, I hate to say crisis, but there a lot of schools that are down several positions,” said State Sen. Lynne Walz. “We need to work on how do we break down those barriers,” Walz said.Nicholas said the proposals won’t remove enough of the red tape to get him and his wife back in the classroom.But they said it’s a step in the right direction.”Not trying to lower the standards of academics. But exploring other opportunities to get highly trained and qualified teachers in the state,” Nicholas said.”Whatever we need to do other than go back and get a four-year degree,” he said.Nicholas said they can apply for a temporary certificate that’s good for a few years while they work to get a degree.Blood said she is working on a bill for next year that would allow Nebraska to join a compact that would honor the teaching certificates from other states in the compact.

A Lincoln couple with experience teaching in another state wants to help Nebraska’s school staffing shortage.

But Desiree Feria Smith and her husband Nicholas said they’re sidelined because of state regulations.

“Here are with two teachers capable, willing and because of bureaucracy or red tape we are not able to,” Desiree said.

The two taught in Texas for the past three years.

“I am certified in bilingual Spanish and early childhood through sixth grade,” Desiree said.

Nicholas said they recently returned to Nebraska to be closer to family following the birth of their first child.

They were hoping to pick up where they left off.

“We want to be here. We want to help. We want to teach,” Nicholas said.

But they said state regulations are full of roadblocks.

“I received a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration, but neither of those fulfilled the retirements to be a teacher in Nebraska,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas said you have to have a bachelor’s degree in education to receive a teaching certificate.

In Texas, they were able to take part in a year-long alternative certification process that allowed them to teach.

Adrianne Kruger told lawmakers about another obstacle during a hearing before the Legislature’s Education Committee Monday.

She’s a junior at Wayne State College and wants to be a teacher.

However, even though she gets good grades, a standardized test on core skills, required for entrance into the education program, has kept her from taking courses she needs to graduate.

“Within these three years I’ve contemplated changing my major, dropping out of college and finding new avenues to move on,” Kruger said.

Others said standardized tests required after graduation are also a costly hurdle that are not needed.

“Students who have already shown ability through the ACT and successful completion of college courses should not be facing an expensive test that has no bearing on their future career,” said Nebraska State Education Association President Jenny Benson.

Benson and other education leaders support three bills, that modify the testing requirements for teacher certification.

LB 690, introduced by State Sen. Tony Vargas, would eliminate all of the standardized tests.

“Many states have waived the Praxis exam, or the core subjects exams because they wanted to make sure teachers were getting into classrooms. And what we’re finding is we need to be as nimble as humanly possible,” Vargas said.

State Sen. Carol Blood’s LB 690 gives the Nebraska Department of Education the option to use coursework to determine basic skills competency.

“They need to given options that the balance is there that the people we hire are qualified,” Blood said.

LB 1218 would also include $1,000 loan forgiveness for student teachers.

“We’re to the point where, I hate to say crisis, but there a lot of schools that are down several positions,” said State Sen. Lynne Walz.

“We need to work on how do we break down those barriers,” Walz said.

Nicholas said the proposals won’t remove enough of the red tape to get him and his wife back in the classroom.

But they said it’s a step in the right direction.

“Not trying to lower the standards of academics. But exploring other opportunities to get highly trained and qualified teachers in the state,” Nicholas said.

“Whatever we need to do other than go back and get a four-year degree,” he said.

Nicholas said they can apply for a temporary certificate that’s good for a few years while they work to get a degree.

Blood said she is working on a bill for next year that would allow Nebraska to join a compact that would honor the teaching certificates from other states in the compact.

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