The Louisiana Department of Education is denying that there were ever talks to do away with teacher certification altogether in public schools.
In fact, LDOE officials said statements made during a recent meeting by St. Charles Parish School Board Members Clarence "Sonny" Savoie and Dennis Naquin criticizing the department for doing so were incorrect.
The discussion arose out of a larger criticism concerning laws passed that make it unnecessary for charter school teachers to be certified. To become a certified teacher in Louisiana, teachers must go through specific coursework in college as well as a teacher prep program that puts them in the classroom for a number of months as a student teacher.
Naquin said in the meeting that discussion was underway within BESE that would make it unnecessary for public school teachers to be certified.
"Iím not sure where they are standing on it because they are just discussing it. (BESE) doesnít feel that teachers need to be certified anymore," Naquin said. "It continues to open that door a little bit wider for the agenda that the state continues to push down the throats of school districts throughout the state of Louisiana."
Savoie backed up Naquin by comparing education to other professions needing certification.
"I guess it never ceases to amaze me what comes out of BESE. We can certify doctors and public accountants and a lot of other professions, but we canít certify public educators," Savoie said. "Iím just wondering if anyone on BESE needs a brain surgeon because Iíve got an uncertified doctor I can send them to."
Representatives of the LDOE said Naquin and Savoieís comments were misleading.
State Superintendent John White was unavailable for an interview, but said in a statement that completely eliminating the need for teacher certification was never on the table.
"The department never proposed that certification be eliminated and BESE never considered such a proposal," White said.
However, Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said although BESE and the Department of Education never put forth a plan to make teacher certification unnecessary in all schools, there was discussion concerning reducing the need for certification throughout the state.
"BESE Board Member Chas Roemer was quoted as saying in regards to certification that heís not even sure that teachers need a college education," Monaghan said.
Monaghan also said that because BESE is allowing teachers without certification to teach in public charter schools, they are eventually willing to do away with certification statewide.
"Logic would indicate to me that if you are supportive of charter schools being the intent of where schools should go, and you are arguing certification is not necessary in those schools, then why would I think you support certification in any schools?" Monaghan said.