Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Prospective teachers lacking an education degree would have an easier path to get a teaching license under a measure Kansas officials approved Wednesday aimed at addressing critical classroom vacancies.

With a 9-1 vote, the State Board of Education pushed through new regulations that let people with relevant experience earn teaching licenses. The action came in response to a new state law taking effect July 1 that seeks to increase the available pool of teachers in science, math, engineering and technology in secondary schools.

“Before the Legislature even got involved we were looking at this,” said Sally Cauble, vice chairwoman of the board. “We knew we had certain cases that kept coming up that had to be addressed.”

The regulations would allow applicants without education degrees to receive Kansas teaching licenses if they have at least a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of related work experience in the designated subjects.

Applicants could also qualify for a license with an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession and five years of related work experience. The provision particularly targets filling teaching slots created by the expansion of technical education at the high school level since 2011.

However, the Kansas National Education Association repeated its criticism of the new law, saying “teaching is much more than knowing what to teach, but also knowing how to teach.”

“That’s our ongoing concern,” said Marcus Baltzell, spokesman for KNEA said after the board’s meeting. “We understand the board members have a job to do and comply with the law.”

Baltzell said KNEA found it “puzzling” that legislators repealed state law regarding due process for teachers facing termination, but also included a means for people not trained in education methods to enter the classroom.

“Licensed teachers come to the classroom with training and experience in areas of differentiated instruction, special needs education, classroom management strategies, student diversity, behavior strategies, parent-teacher communications, and so much more,” he said.

Board member Steve Roberts called the new law “a modest step” toward inviting other professionals in the classroom.