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Zanesville Times Recorder
Kasich: Teachers should job shadow with businesses to renew licenses
Chrissie Thompson
Feb. 14, 2017

COLUMBUS - Teachers would have to complete "externships" – essentially, a high-level job shadow – with a local business to renew their licenses under a provision in Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal.

Kasich wants to involve businesses more in education, believing schools need their input to help turn out students who are prepared for 21st Century careers. Too often, he believes, students are missing opportunities to learn the ways core subjects can prepare them for careers that interest them. Too many students, he says, leave high school to pursue college degrees that cost a fortune and don't prepare them for realistic, good-paying jobs.

“Are our schools preparing our students in a real way?” he said at a recent event honoring innovative schools. “Never let the education get in the way of learning.”

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 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 longer, more in-depth experience would be required. Local professional development committees would identify opportunities in the community, which could range from teacher field trips to one-on-one job shadows. A local business or group might offer to compensate teachers for their time, but paid job shadow opportunities aren't the norm.

This year, Kasich's other ideas for bringing businesses and educators together range from awarding high school credit for students' work experience to placing three businesspeople on each school board. The proposals come from recommendations by a group of higher education, business and trade leaders who sit on Kasich's workforce board. Last year, he asked that group to come up with ideas to help Ohioans prepare for today's and tomorrow's job opportunities.

In theory, those ideas have a solid foundation, said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, a union representing 20,000 educators. She would rather see them enter state policy as recommendations or best practices, rather than requirements.

"Education policy over the past decade has been highly focused on college readiness and has overlooked the potential on career readiness," Cropper told The Enquirer. "We definitely need to take a deeper look on how to get students ready for (both) college and careers. The concept of certain teachers partnering with the business community has potential."

Still, she said, some regions of the state may lack enough opportunities for all teachers to spend time at a local business or chamber of commerce. And not all teachers will benefit equally from the work experience.

"We're suggesting a kindergarten teacher get an externship at a business," she explained. "Is an externship really going to add to the quality of what you're doing in the classroom?" In that case, it might be more helpful for the teacher to bring professionals into the classroom to explain their jobs to kindergartners, she said.

The job shadow opportunities could further the kind of relationship needed to organize that kind of a career day, and all teachers would benefit from knowing what kind of employers work in their communities, said Ryan Burgess, who directs Kasich's Office of Workforce Transformation.

Teachers who have done externships, such as by visiting a manufacturing operation, say they better understand today's jobs, perhaps shedding some stereotypes, Burgess said. Licking County, for instance, already has a summer externship program for teachers.

Burgess had heard teachers say: " 'Our students think they have to move away to get a job because they just don't know what jobs exist in their backyard.' "

"If teachers know what kinds of jobs do exist in their local communities, perhaps they can communicate that to their students," he said.

Reporter Jessie Balmert contributed to this story.

Read this and other articles at the Zanesville Times Recorder


 
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