The two boards that oversee public schools and higher education Wednesday signed off on a plan that would make sweeping changes in teacher training.
The key feature of the overhaul would require teachers to undergo a one-year apprenticeship as a student-teacher, compared with 10-15 weeks now.
Backers say improving teacher quality will boost student achievement.
Holly Boffy, vice president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said that, aside from cost concerns, there is urgency to put the new system in place.
Boffy, a former state Teacher of the Year who lives in Lafayette, said as a parent, she would have concerns about her child being taught by a first-year teacher.
“This is an incredible responsibility we have,” Boffy told a rare joint meeting of BESE, which oversees public schools and the Board of Regents, which sets policy for public colleges and universities.
Surveys show numerous teachers new to the profession felt ill-prepared in their first year in the classroom.
State Superintendent of Education John White said the staff of BESE and the Board of Regents are crafting a framework that is “both ambitious and fiscally responsible.”
However, even some backers of the overhaul said they are concerned about the price tag.
Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, called the plan positive but noted that it comes at a time of “dire” finances for public schools and colleges and universities.
The Legislature is in a special session that ends Thursday to try to close a $600 million shortfall starting July 1.
“Please be mindful of the costs of this endeavor,” Richard said.
State aid for public schools may drop $44 million for the 2016-17 school year.
TOPS and other higher education aid also faces reductions.
BESE member Doris Voitier, who is superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish school system, also raised cost concerns.
Voitier said she is excited about the concept behind the plan but that long-term financial sustainability is critical.
BESE endorsed plans to move ahead with planning for the revamped training system.
The Board of Regents lacked a quorum but is expected to endorse it next week.
“There is no question we will cooperate in this endeavor,” said Richard Lipsey, president of the higher education panel.
When any changes would start taking effect is unclear.
Action by BESE on new policies this week was delayed earlier amid concerns about costs and other issues.
White said BESE and Board of Regents officials will work on timelines and expenses and bring the issue back to BESE.
Under one scenario, the new rules would start kicking in in 2018.
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