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Lawmakers are Considering Bill that Could Bring Part-Time Expertise to Schools

Virginia’s schools don’t have enough qualified teachers for career and technical classes. So, lawmakers in Richmond are considering a bill that would ease requirements on those jobs. Under proposed legislation, schools could hire part-time professionals who know the subject to teach, but don’t have a teaching license.

Pulaski County has been looking for someone to teach their high schoolers drafting, how to draw up architectural plans. They’ve been looking since the beginning of the school year and the job is still open. Republican Senator Frank Ruff wants to make it easier for the county to fill that job — and others like it — at least on a temporary basis.

 "If we can get that expertise into the classroom even for a few hours a day, a few hours a week, then that's a positive,” said Ruff.

For Ruff, this bill is part of a larger push to get more technical, hands-on classes in high schools across the state. Classes that could lead to well-paying jobs, but don't require a four-year degree.

“So that those kids are ready to go to the community college and be in a running position rather than a walking position then they'll have a much better opportunity,” said Ruff.

But Meg Gruber, president of the Virginia Education Association, is concerned supporters of the bill don't understand just how hard it can be to teach -- especially without having the proper training.

"We understand that there's a real need for career and technical education teachers, but we also know that just because you have the knowledge doesn't mean you can just walk into a classroom and understand how to convey that knowledge to a child,” said Gruber.

The Senate Committee on Education and Health passed the bill without much disagreement.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.
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