Senate approves bill waiving charter school teacher certification

The state Senate has approved a bill that waives the certification requirements for many of the teachers and administrators in the state’s charter schools.

“This is a new age,” said Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chairwoman of the Education Committee, adding that just because a teacher isn’t certified, “It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know how to teach.”

Charter schools, like regular public schools, are allowed to hire teachers who lack state certification, but the teachers must get certified within two years.

Meeting the certification requirement has been a problem at some charter schools. According to the Department of Education, half the administrators and nearly 12 percent of the teachers in the state’s 18 charter schools lack certification. Education officials have repeatedly warned school officials that teachers must be working toward certification or lose their jobs.

The bill approved by the Senate Thursday allows the education commissioner to waive certification for 30 percent of charter teachers and administrators. Teacher unions have adamantly resisted the change.

“There are reasons why we have licenses and certifications: For assurances of what are proven to be successful strategies in teacher methods,” Ray Rossomando, the legislative coordinator for Connecticut Education Association, said recently.

The bill passed the Senate in a 33-2 vote and now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass.