A law passed in the Long Session of the General Assembly would allow college professors to teach in K-12 classrooms without having the requisite teaching license.
Sen. Chad Barefoot (R-Wake), sponsored SB448, “Professors in the Classroom,” which was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, and is seen primarily as a means by which to address the shortage of K-12 teachers in North Carolina.
The number of higher education students working toward and education degree and the bachelor’s and Master’s level has declined in North Carolina. In 2010 the number was a bit under 24,000, and has dropped to around 16,500 in 2015.
The underlying question surrounding this idea-turned-legislation, is whether enough college professors will get involved in the opportunity to teach in K-12? The decision will boil down to a balancing act between the desire to earn some extra money, and the chasm of difference between lecturing and teaching.
The new law allows college professors to be hired by local boards of education on an adjunct basis without a teacher’s license, but they will have to meet a few standards set out in the law.
First, the adjunct professor shall meet the minimum criteria of education or experience in core academic subjects as developed by the State Board of Education.
The adjunct professor may be employed for less than 20 hours per week, or for less than six consecutive months in a K-12 classroom.
As a part-time employee, the adjunct professor may not participate in the State Health Plan or Retirement Plan for Teachers and State Employees, nor will he or she accrue paid leave.
To qualify as an adjunct professor, he or she must pass a criminal background check.
The most interesting part of the bill is the requirement that if not licensed, the prospective adjunct professor must complete preservice training. This includes the identification and education of children with disabilities, positive management of student behavior, effective communication for defusing and de-escalating disruptive or dangerous behavior, and the safe and appropriate use of seclusion and restraint.
Dian Schaffhauser, contributing editor at campustechnology.com said, “Some professors who may not be tenured might be interested in the idea of being an adjunct in K-12 as a way to supplement their income.”
In fact, professors nationally are more frequently seeking free-lance work as a supplement to their income. Last August, Autumn Arnett, editor at educationdive.com, posted an article on the topic of free-lancing, and how educators are beginning to do more free-lance work to supplement their income. The article included a study by the American Association of University Professors that showed, “73% of the American professoriate is contingent faculty, meaning those not on the tenure track, and 59% are not employed by institutions full-time.”
Using middle-school as an example, Arnett said in an email, “I wonder if the pay would be worth all of the socio-emotional things that come with that age group, but also the differences in expectations for teachers of those younger students. Someone who is used to giving out a syllabus, lecturing a bit, and passing out a test may balk at the amount of hand-holding and coddling schools expect from teachers now.”
The need for supplemental income for some college and university professors may propel this legislation to successfully helping meet some of the demand for K-12 teachers.
The question remains, however, if there will be enough higher education instructors who will want to leave the relative serenity of their lecture hall, and enter a world where they need to be schooled in, “defusing and de-escalating disruptive or dangerous behavior and the safe and appropriate use of seclusion and restraint.”
The bill was heard by the education committees in both the Senate and House, and enjoyed broad bipartisan support. It passed unanimously in both chambers, and went into effect when it became law on June 30.