Ohio teachers give low marks to proposed ‘externships’
MARIETTA — Teachers might have to take on “externships” within the community as part of renewing their teaching licenses if the proposed budget by Ohio Gov. John Kasich is approved for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Local educators said they don’t think the proposal should become a requirement.
“My problem is with the constant government interference when they fail to address the real issues,” said Kim Depue, career exploration teacher for Marietta High School. “I think that all legislature representatives should have to intern with us to see what we do.”
According to the budget proposal, the externship provision would require teachers to gain “on-site work experience” with a business or chamber of commerce before renewing their license, generally every five years. That experience would count toward continuing education required for license renewal. The goal is to give teachers a better sense of what skills jobs require and help them discuss careers with students to better prepare them for entering the workforce.
Both the Ohio Federation of Teachers and Ohio Education Association have made statements in opposition to the proposal, saying the externships are a good continuing education option but shouldn’t be mandatory.
“I understand the thought of preparing our kids for a future career,” said Pam Bennett, American History teacher at Marietta High School. “We already do so much and to add something else to get our license renewed… I’m currently working on a second masters degree. I don’t know why this is necessary.”
The externships would be a one-hour job shadow that must be completed by all teachers, regardless of grade level. According to the budget proposal, the state board of education would outline the requirements for a qualifying job shadow, such as whether a teacher would need to take an hour-long tour of a factory or whether a more in-depth experience would be required.
“It’s impractical for elementary school teachers,” said Andrew Harper, special education teacher at New Matamoras Elementary School. “We are already bombarded with testing we have to give our kids. It would be hard to make time for family. There are other things that need to be improved other than mandating internships.”
According to the budget proposal, local professional development committees would identify opportunities in the community, which could range from teacher field trips to one-on-one job shadows.
The plan is to involve businesses more in education.
“It could definitely be beneficial but there should be strong parameters for the internship,” said Jana Thomas, principal of Waterford Elementary School. “Especially for elementary school teachers… what could they bring back to the classroom that would be informational for a first-grader?”
Fifth-grade teacher Charlie Laswell said at the level he’s teaching, job skills aren’t yet relevant to his students at Phillips Elementary School.
“Kids are around 11-and-12-years-old. They are focused on what they’re going to do after school, not what they’re doing when they’re 30,” he said. “I don’t know what one hour of job shadowing is going to do to enhance my teaching ability. I just don’t understand the purpose.”
Even high school teachers said they don’t see why this mandate would be necessary to enhance the skills of their students.
“I don’t know why we need another state mandate that continues to burden teachers,” said Steve Foutty, industrial arts teacher at Marietta High School. “How are local industries going to be able to support all the teachers coming into their companies? There’s roughly 70 teaching staff at Marietta High School. That translates into 70 hours taken away from the workers in the industries and that’s just one school in one district.”
Abby Ehrenberg, first-grade teacher at Phillips Elementary School, said the teachers in the Marietta district already take time to get to know companies in the community.
“We have professional development days in the district where we do exactly what the governor is wanting us to do,” she said. “I think teachers, especially at the high school level, should be providing job shadow opportunities for their students, not the teachers.”
The two-year budget must pass before July 1, when it takes effect, and this is just one of the many things that Kasich has proposed.
“This isn’t the No. 1 thing we need to be concentrating on,” said Depue. “The legislature isn’t helping us help under-resourced kids in the classroom. We need to be addressing the poverty in the classroom, and the fact that there are homeless children out there. He isn’t addressing the real issues.”