My dad had, or I guess still HAS a lifetime teaching license in Wisconsin. My mom did not, nor did my sister. I missed out, and so did my wife, but at least we just had to take mindless classes rather than create mindless portfolios...Oh wait, our districts generally made us do BOTH. Either way, it makes sense to offer lifetime teaching licensure in Wisconsin, not only because Act 10 sent teachers like me out of the workforce, but because it was never really a fair system in the first place.

I left my teaching job and Wisconsin, and I am about to lose my license to teach there, as a result of the Act 10 changes. Now that teachers are more scarce in the state (any many former teachers like myself are still hanging around somewhere), it makes sense to abandon the license-renewal BS. And all of it always was BS, like the fact that I had to pay for goofy, easy classes at summer colleges in order to renew a teaching license that had nothing to do with the class I was taking. Or that so many teachers used these or similar courses in order to “earn” a master’s degree in Urban Education or Curriculum and Development. Basically, colleges did well when we went to a system of constant license renewal via credits. Teachers made a mockery of the system because it was so stupid: I had to pay for six college credits in addition to all the mind-numbing school district in-services. Both the college courses and those in-services were taught by folks who never knew or had forgotten how to teach. Instead of grading papers or developing real curriculum, the system had me stuck re-learning very basic ideas.

I’ve known several people who have earned second degrees, paid for by their employers, in order to move up in the company. Some of those folks moved onto better jobs. In education, you pay your own way, and it’s just to move up a few thousand dollars on a pay scale, or join the Dark Side and become an administrator. If you’ve been good at teaching social studies for the last decade, do you really need a two-credit cooking or classroom management class? I certainly never felt like it was worth the money I was forced to spend.

Yes, even after June when my license is set to expire, I could step into any classroom in Wisconsin and still figure it all out. Obviously, teachers are just people who follow guidelines and create lessons in order to get students to meet standards. It’s a hard job, but it’s not one you forget how to do simply because you failed to take an Art in the Classroom course or stepped out of the classroom for a few years. Granted, my dad, who can barely handle having the three grandkids around the house, may lack the patience to return to a middle school classroom, but that’s more up to him than some licensing board. So I say make all Wisconsin licenses lifetime, including mine. That way, people can leave for a few years, experience life, not worry about worthless classes or irrelevant portfolios, and step back in if it suits them. All this system will do is drain the swamp of fly-by-night colleges, DPI license officials (who take several months to process anything), and portfolio mentor teachers who make a killing for doing nothing.

I can't say I agreed with most of what Scott Walker has done with education, but I honestly think this is one mandate teachers can live with.