Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree

Feb 1, 2023, 7:00 PM

One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...

UEA President Renee Pinkney says there doesn't appear to be any severe teacher shortages around the state. File photo

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the teacher shortage around the state. A Utah lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow individuals to become teachers through a certification program rather than the usual bachelor’s degree.

Rep. Norman Thurston (R-Provo) joined Dave and Dunjanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on Wednesday to discuss H.B 295.

Concern over teachers without a bachelor’s degree

Dujanovic expresses concern over the idea. 

“I don’t have reason for concern here where this legislation appears to not be requiring a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “And then my daughter walks into a physics class or her chemistry class and finds out that they didn’t get a degree. Their teacher didn’t get a degree.”

Thurston says there is a difference.

“There’s an important difference between getting a degree and being certified as a teacher,” he said. “And so, what we’re proposing is just a whole new way and a different path.”

Thurston says this different path would be much like an electrician learning to be an electrician through on the job training, supplemented with evening classes every once in a while.

“That’s what this would be,” he said. “Is that you learn to be a teacher by being a teacher in the classroom.”

Who is in charge of the certification program

Noriega asked “Who runs the certification program?”

Thurston says any of the in-state universities such as Weber State or Utah Valley University could handle the program.

“Because they already have the professors there that understand pedagogy and classroom management and content,” he said. “But they could just repackage that into a shorter, more intense program to get people joined up and ready to go faster.”

How long does the program take?

Dujanovic asked “Is this program just a couple of months?”

“I don’t know how long it would take,” Thurston said. “My guess and talking to people who’d be involved in this, it it’s probably a two-year program, maybe two-and-a-half program for someone who is really serious about doing it.”

“How much does that cost?” Noriega asked. 

While Thurston didn’t have an exact price tag, he said it would be cheaper because people could get to work after two years as opposed to four years with a college degree.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree