Controversial alt cert route has surprising win in Oklahoma

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We were stunned to hear that the Oklahoma House recently approved ABCTE in a unanimous vote. The legislative battles fought by ABCTE to earn the right to certify teachers in a state are normally legendary. Local unions and ed schools usually join forces to ensure that the alternate certification route doesn't get its foot in the door -- explaining why ABCTE has made relatively little progress since its 2001 inception in persuading states to avail themselves of the route. So why such overwhelming success this time?

Legislation giving ABCTE a role in Oklahoma's teacher certification has been unsuccessfully introduced three times before. The bill's co-sponsor in the house, Representative Tad Jones, indicated that the legislature had gone through "a learning process with ABCTE," culminating this time around with an "understanding that the state needs high-quality alternative certification."

ABCTE's Director of State and National Partnerships Eileen Proudlock further attributed the bill's strong support to its emphasis on filling shortage areas. The measure approves the group's certification for middle and secondary levels, paving the way for certifying much needed math and science teachers. ABCTE has successfully pursued this strategy in other states, as legislators know their districts can't afford to turn down any source of the rare math or science teacher.

Strategically, the bill's sponsors also made a smart move, linking ABCTE's authorizing language to the popular and uncontroversial Troops to Teachers. The bill giving ABCTE the nod also happens to mention the troops, though reasons for doing so seemed unclear. Proudlock acknowledged that the inclusion of Troops for Teachers in the bill could "only have helped us." It's hard to say "no" to the troops.