Penny Bishop, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Maine, testified before the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on February 8 about proposed changes to the Chapter 115, the state rule governing the certification of teachers and other teachers. staff.

Bishop urged lawmakers to eliminate an emergency teacher certificate provision, which allows people to teach Maine students without any formal preparation, that was passed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A copy of his testimony is online.

Citing research from Maine Institute for Education Policy Research, a joint venture of the UMaine College of Education and Human Development and the University of Southern Maine, she noted that Maine’s annual teacher turnover rate is 8.7%, meaning that of the approximately 15 000 teaching positions in Maine schools this year, 1,300 of them will have to be renewed next year. A wealth of other research suggests that high-quality teacher education programs are key to retaining educators in the teaching force.

“Well-prepared teachers stay in schools longer. Strong preparation makes them more likely to stay in the profession, resulting in less disruption to student learning and fewer dollars spent unnecessarily,” Bishop said in his testimony.

She gave the example of RSU 25, serving the communities of Bucksport, Orland, Prospect and Verona Island, which has replaced an average of 16 teachers per year over the past three years. Conservatively, Bishop said that’s $160,000 in additional costs for the district to recruit and onboard new teachers — the money, she argued, would be better spent investing directly in the classroom, by increasing teachers’ salaries or in other community priorities.

Bishop said Chapter 115 contains other options that give schools flexibility to respond to labor shortages, such as a conditional certificate or a waiver from the education commissioner for teachers who are not yet fully certified.

Bishop was joined in testifying by representatives from other campuses in the University of Maine system, including Alana Margeson, director of the education program at the University of Maine at Près Isle; Flynn Ross, president of teacher education at USM; and Kathy Yardley, dean of the College of Education, Health and Rehabilitation at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Contact: Casey Kelly, [email protected]