Politics & Government

NC lawmakers’ deal could save the jobs of teachers whose licenses are expiring

Updated on June 24, 2019 and July 5, 2019.

State lawmakers have reached a deal to let hundreds of North Carolina teachers whose licenses expire at the end of June to keep their jobs.

The anxiety level for many teachers rose June 13 after the Senate rejected changes that the House had made to a bill that gave educators more time to meet state licensure requirements. But on June 20, the House voted 107-1 to accept a compromise agreed to by a committee of House and Senate lawmakers. On June 24, the Senate approved the bill by a 42-1 vote.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced on July 3 that he had signed the bill into law.

“There are some personnel decisions that are having to be made at this time in your local LEAs (local education agencies), and this licensure switch can help with some relief to counties with those personnel decisions,” said Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, a Wilkes County Republican and co-chairman of the House Education Committee.

Licensures became more of an issue after state lawmakers said teachers could start working before they completed all their licensure exams.

But elementary school and special education teachers across the state have complained about the Pearson math exam that the state had been requiring them to pass. Teachers say the exam, which is being phased out, asks them questions on topics such as calculus that they won’t be teaching their students.

School district leaders have warned that they’re in danger of losing good teachers who are having problems passing the test.

Under Senate Bill 219:

Elementary and special education teachers whose licenses expire June 30, 2019 would get an extension until June 30, 2020.

Any school district could issue a non-renewable three-year license to teachers who currently work in the district or who they want to employ who has not passed their licensure exams. The license would only be good for that district.

The limited license could also be given to a teacher who is licensed in another state.

Teachers would have up to the third year of their initial license to pass, one year longer than now allowed.

The number of years required to get a lifetime teaching license would be reduced from 50 years of experience to 30 years.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.
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