Op-ed: Undermining Public Education Yet Again

Op-ed: Undermining Public Education Yet Again

Tim Boyle / Staff

By Claudia Istel

February 21, 2024

The New Hampshire legislature is considering two bills, HB 1298 and SB 374 which would allow public schools to hire uncertified classroom “guides” to teach part-time in public schools. These untrained community members could teach any grades or subjects K-12 as long as they work fewer than 30 hours per week, pass a criminal records check, and sign a code of conduct. House Bill 1298 adds provisions that these guides need expertise in the subject area they will be teaching.

Public school teachers are required to be certified in the grade level and subjects they teach. Their training includes child development, how to teach, and expertise in their subject area(s). Teachers have trained in classrooms, and taken praxis tests. We want our teachers to be professionals, knowledgeable about their subjects and the intellectual and psychological development of students, and to implement best practices in teaching.

My teacher training to become a high school math teacher, many decades ago, included courses in pedagogy, human development, special needs students, and mathematics. I also did student teaching, under the supervisor of both a classroom teacher and a college professor, to demonstrate competency in my subject and how to teach it effectively. To maintain my teacher certification, renewed every three years, I took graduate courses and workshops to further my knowledge of mathematics, best practices in teaching, updated curriculum, and changes in technology, particularly learning how to use and effectively teach with computers and graphing calculators. Learning to use generations of copy machines and printers, attendance and grading management systems like PowerSchool or Canvas, and classroom technology like Smart Boards and Zoom proficiently were expected, often with minimal training.

Part-time teachers should meet the same standards as full-time teachers. There are already alternate pathways to certification that allow districts to hire highly qualified persons and help them meet the certification requirements as they are teaching and exemptions for hard-to-fill positions. Neither lower the standards for teachers, so students, parents, and the community can be sure that only qualified teachers are in their schools.

In our school district, a substitute teacher is required to be a high school graduate, something also not required by these bills.

This is yet one more effort to undermine our public schools, which educate 86% of the children in NH. Public schools are the pride of our communities and are designed and mandated to serve every child, whatever their need, and without discrimination. Already strapped for funding, the expanding of school vouchers, so-called “educational freedom accounts”, are taking tens of millions of taxpayer dollars away from public schools to fund private and religious education. Draining money from our schools, squeezing municipalities to fund education and keep their towns and cities running with fewer tax dollars, expecting teachers to meet increased student needs with fewer resources, and threatening them if they discuss subjects about which students have questions but which offend some adults – not to mention the housing and child care crises in NH – all lead to a teacher shortage. Now there is an effort to undermine the quality of the teachers in public schools which will decrease the quality of education for our children.


  • Claudia Istel

    Claudia is a retired New Hampshire public high school teacher and, current River Valley Community College adjunct.

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