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Quiet Controversy in Schools: Noncertified Teachers

Seventeen men and women with college degrees in either science or mathematics are teaching in Hawaii public high schools while taking education courses to become certified teachers.

The Hawaii teachers’ union doesn’t like the controversial "earn and learn" program funded by the 1985 Legislature to alleviate the shortage of math and science teachers.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, like teacher unions in other states with similar programs, says the hiring of non-certified teachers is a dangerous move toward lowering standards in the classroom.

State Department of Education officials say the 17 are well-qualified in the subjects they are teaching and they are being supervised closely. By the end of the school year, they say, the 17 will have completed the same requirements as other teachers need for certification.

The 1985 Legislature appropriated $44,000 for this year and $96,000 for next year for two programs to attract science and math teachers.

One program is not controversial. It provides tuition money for veteran teachers to return to college to take the math or science courses they need to gain additional certification as a math or science teacher.

The second, a controversial program, is for individuals who did not graduate from a college of education but do have college degrees in either math or science.

The DOE received 400 inquiries when it announced the second program last spring. Completed applications were submitted by 126 people. DOE officials interviewed 67 and selected 31 to begin training in July…

Ann Port, DOE personnel specialist working on the program, said one person dropped out after the first week of summer classes and a second dropped out after teaching several days in September.


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