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Local response to governor's proposal on teaching licenses

APPLETON (WLUK) -- We're following the money as we take a closer look at a recommendation in Governor Walker's latest budget proposal.

Under that plan, teachers would not have to renew their teaching licenses.

The Governor says the change would save money. Others worry it could eventually dull teaching skills.

Governor Walker has said his plan to make teaching licenses permanent would cut costs for the state and teachers.

Right now Wisconsin teachers have to renew their licenses every five years and pay a fee.

"It's unnecessary and our state shouldn't be charging fees that aren't necessary. I really think we should do our best to save teachers money and this is something we can do to do that," said Republican State Representative Ron Tusler.

Walker's office estimates the move would save about $750 over a 30 year teaching career.

But there are some concerns. To renew a license now the teacher has to prove he or she has kept up with continuing education.

"The concern is that we would still want the requirement for the teachers to get that training and continuing education just to make sure that we have the top teachers here in our state," said Democratic State Representative Amanda Stuck.

The governor's proposal allows for school districts to make those requirements.

We spoke about this with Reid Riggle, the Co-Chair for Teacher Education at St. Norbert College and President of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

"We're facing challenges with the number of people going into the profession, as well as the number of people staying in the profession...There are a lot of barriers to becoming a teacher because we want quality control," Riggle explained.

Riggle told us Walker's proposal is an interesting response to try to offset the state's teacher shortage. He said there are already state and national requirements for teachers' continued training outside of the licenses.

"Called 'educator effectiveness' in the schools, which is a major focus on professional development controlled by the schools," said Riggle.

According to Riggle his biggest concern with the Governor's proposal is that it would cut 10 employees from the Department of Public Instruction.

Walker has said it's a cost-saving measure. Riggle is skeptical.

"From my perspective, as somebody who works closely with the DPI, they're grossly understaffed," Riggle told us.

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