A redesign of how teachers are prepared to lead a classroom has been approved by BESE. It would require a one year apprenticeship for aspiring teachers before they can be certified. BESE President Jim Garvey says he supports this change because this will improve the ability of new teachers to hit the ground running on day one.

“Our teachers are going to start their career as second year teachers because they will have spent their first year under a professional mentor teacher.”

The program will be funded for the next 5 years by a federal grant. Mentors will receive additional pay and the teacher in training will receive some income. Garvey says some teachers have already gone through the apprenticeship as part of a pilot program and gave positive reviews.

“They said when they were turned loose after graduation, on day one, they felt like they were ready, in most respects fully prepared to teach that class as the lead teacher.”

The one year residency will be required for certification starting July 1, 2018. President of the Louisiana Association of Educators Debbie Meaux says she is in favor of the concept, but this program is moving way too fast. She says some college classes would be stripped away with this new program.

“To say, I understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and not just doing to because they’re copying the mentor teacher and becoming a mini me.”

Meaux says she’s also concerned that new teachers will only be sent to schools around universities and not in rural areas.

“We think that this is an aspect of the new program that hasn’t been thought out fully yet.”