|Action||Comprehensive Revision of the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel|
|Comment Period||Ends 11/6/2015|
Changing Regulations to teach pre Engineering subjects in public high schools
As an elected council member for the Town of Luray, Virginia I attended this year’s annual Virginia Municipal League conference held at the Richmond Marriott. The keynote speaker for lunch Tuesday was our Governor Terry McAuliffe. His speech focused on the accomplishments our Commonwealth has made with his focus on building a new Virginia economy. He spoke on promoting education in his next budget with emphasis on our ability of producing STEM graduates with skills ready for existing and future jobs.
I agree with educating our youth for employment. I am a public school teacher at Luray High School. I’ve been teaching Technology Education electives for over 30 years now. In fact I’ve served as President of our Virginia Technology Education & Engineering Association and am currently the Valley Regional President. Throughout my career I have seen my profession change with the times. State approved courses in the Commonwealth are reflective of the changing world as they should be. As I am sure you know, an industry certification is important for students to earn in high school. I was pleased to hear Governor McAuliffe recognize this fact and his desire for certifications be continued and even expanded. However I am writing to express my deep concern regarding proposed changes to the Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia. Specifically, my concerns target the proposed 8VAC20-543-280 Engineering as a new program of study and 8VAC20-23-330, the addition of an engineering teaching license. If passed, this will affect the current high school pre- engineering programs and teachers. I really do not understand the thoughts behind creating a NEW license to teach engineering subjects in our public high schools.
I was part of the professionals in developing the first high school engineering courses within the subject area of Technology Education, and later incorporated nationally in recognized engineering courses developed by Project Lead The Way (PLTW) that align with post-secondary engineering programs. Students are already being challenged with engineering subject matter in our existing curriculum.
Virginia’s Technology Education curriculum is nationally recognized to address the K-12 technology and engineering content and practices. I and many more teachers like myself have fought for our inclusion in STEM conversations that have come forth. If I remember correct, the 2011 Senate Joint Resolution 308 established a shared responsibility among the existing science, technology, and mathematics subjects. I simply do not believe adding another license category will help matters. In fact I see a severe shortage of newly trained and certified Technology Education professionals in our state. I regularly get emails announcing openings to fill the positions of retiring personnel and other folks leaving the profession. I know of positions that went unfilled this fall and programs are beginning to close due to lack of qualified teachers.
I prefer the VDOE to focus on getting more in-state universities to offer Technology Education undergraduate degrees to my students that display an interest upon leaving high school. For Virginia to have the skilled workforce for existing and future jobs, I believe we should work more closely with community colleges and universities to teach those skills. To create another licensure requirement simply works against what we have that is working now. The VTEEA has already submitted to the VA DOE in 2013 the proposed revisions to the Virginia Technology Education Regulations that infuses engineering in a manner that aligns with the ITEEA national Standards for Technological Literacy and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for Technology and Engineering Literacy.