Magazine October 18, 2021, Issue

End Teacher Licensing

Teacher Emma Rossi works with her students at the Sokolowski School in Chelsea, Mass., September 15, 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Recruit for talent, not credentials

The desire for good teachers in the classroom is as old as teaching itself. Back in the early 19th century, teacher licenses were first issued to help ensure the quality of teachers and facilitate the rapid expansion of schooling. Before long, schools of education, state education departments, and urban school officials created increasingly bureaucratized licensure systems. Today, every state requires that educators be licensed to teach in the 100,000 public schools that enroll 90 percent of Ameri­can students.

In theory, licensure ensures that teachers can do their job; in practice, it burdens prospective teachers and deters promising candidates without delivering on

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