Anthony Hennen of the Martin Center highlights legislative proposals that could help improve the quality of teachers in N.C. public schools.

Increasing teacher pay to improve teaching quality has grabbed media attention for months. But North Carolina’s General Assembly has been trying to figure out how to get better teachers into the classroom in other ways, too. Three proposed bills have a chance to make a difference. But what makes them stand out from other education proposals is that they focus on letting teachers skip the traditional path through education school.

Legislators in the current short session want to make it easier for teachers to enter the profession by removing bureaucratic barriers that unnecessarily restrict potential educators. The proposed changes may help improve teacher quality by pulling in non-traditional teachers with valuable experience—but the changes could also lower quality if they’re not well-crafted.

Two new bills in the House come on top of an important provision from last year in the Senate:

  • HB 634 would expand “lateral entry programs,” which prepare potential teachers to obtain a teaching license even if they did not earn a degree through an education school.
  • HB 681 would excuse military spouses who taught out of state and moved to North Carolina with their spouse from testing requirements for North Carolina teacher licenses.
  • SB 462 recommends the UNC system to consider adopting UTeach, a program that trains STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) college students to become high school STEM teachers.

Though it’s not guaranteed that the General Assembly will act on the bills this session, the bills may show the direction of future changes in education policy.