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Teacher shortage

Chronic teacher shortages have plagued Nevada — and particularly Clark County — for years. The state currently has more than 500 openings statewide, with more than 360 of those in the Las Vegas area.

One of the problems is that the educational establishment, particularly the teacher unions, has long put more emphasis on pedagogy requirements than on knowledge of the subject matter. It’s worth remembering that Albert Einstein would have been ineligible to teach high school physics in the Clark County School District — he lacked “certification” from an education college.

That’s why many states have in recent years created “alternative licensure” programs to encourage more people to enter the field. In October, for instance, a Nevada state education commission approved three more licensing avenues for potential educators. The programs combine online instruction with classroom training.

One of the programs, Teachers for Tomorrow, offers opportunities for people with college degrees seeking to change professions and become teachers. It has certified more than 42,000 instructors in its 11-year existence and hopes to place 500 new teachers in Nevada next fall.

Yes, such efforts need to be monitored to ensure they’re producing competent educators. And, yes, good teachers need more than simply a working knowledge of the subject matter — although that should surely be a critical prerequisite. But programs such as Teachers for Tomorrow deserve a chance to succeed and Nevada policymakers should be looking for additional ways to ease the barriers that have contributed to the state’s shortage.

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