Chalk Talk

Teacher licensing needs overhaul

MALDEN, MASS. - The state's system of licensing public school teachers is "a complicated jungle" that must be simplified because candidates are giving up at a time when they're most needed, says Education Commissioner David Driscoll.

A teacher shortage looming because of retirements magnifies the problem that begins with a confusing website about how to become a teacher and ends with people getting "a master's and a half," says Driscoll.

"Is this not the time to perhaps look at some fundamental changes in simplifying the whole area? We need in this day and age to recruit, attract people to this profession," Driscoll said. "If there's anything that's going to discourage people, it's trying to wade through this stuff."

Driscoll and Board of Education Chairman James Peyser said they want to make it easier to obtain an advanced license without a master's degree.

"I don't think the master's degree should be held up as a baseline," Peyser said. "Ideally it is a way to achieve excellence. However, mandating it or building the whole system around it is not necessarily going to get us there."

Cheerleader named an 'inspiration'

BRIDGEPORT, CONN. - Central High sophomore cheerleader Lindsey Cioffi glows about being called an "inspiration." She has yet to meet a counterpart in a wheelchair like herself. Cheerleaders from opposing schools always greet each other in a "friendship ring" during every football game.

"I've been told I'm the only cheerleader using a wheelchair in the state," says the smiling bright-eyed student in her Bridgeport home recently. Her mother, Robin Fugiero, beamed with pride. "She's the only one who doesn't know she's in a wheelchair. She's willing to try anything."

Education in tourism

LEWISTON, MAINE - At the University of Maine, a plan is in the works to create a new research center and program dedicated to tourism. The center would conduct research to enhance tourism and determine which academic programs are necessary to train a new generation of entrepreneurs, managers, and employees for the tourism industry.

One program to be offered would focus on art and tourism for what has been dubbed the "creative economy." A graduate-level tourism program and an undergraduate program in environmental science and tourism would also be made available.

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