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My $0.02...

I know many of us get frequent contacts from people with numerous individual variations of this lack of licensure problem.  Many times it's a genuine desire to improve and contribute to something bigger.  But also at times what is being sought is licensure without the broader education and skill development that lay the foundations for the license and further excellence in teaching.  Sometimes this desire originates with pressure being placed on the teacher from a school district needing to compress staffing in a hurry.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective, colleges and universities do provide broad education and career preparation in a variety of ways with a certain level of rigor.  If that is desired then a university setting is the right place to seek licensure, and there can be some inconvenience associated with it, as there often is with advancement in any field.

Each individual teacher's curricular and scheduling needs are different.  Some are difficult to realize in an individual setting that lacks context.  In many (though certainly not all) cases when I have been contacted by a graduate who is seeking the kinds of full experience through which our institution grants licenses, it has been possible to lay out a plan to achieve it.  One sometimes-successful strategy is to help the teacher communicate this to the school administration.  When a school asks for new licensure, they are asking a teacher to get additional education, experience, and practice.  The school is a stakeholder and has a lot to gain from finding flexible ways for an excellent teacher to earn a new license, if that is how the school can best serve the needs of its students.

There is not a simple answer for the teacher whose school has unrealistic licensure expectations.  And there is also no simple answer for the teacher who seeks the fast track license.  This is a price we pay for our quality practices of licensing Wisconsin music educators in specialized fields with high expectations of competence and accountability.  I don't believe the answer is to allow practicing teachers to be licensed through universities without the assurance of adequate preparation.  The component parts of that assurance are sometimes inconvenient.  It's a difficult dilemma but I think in general, teachers, students, schools, and the profession are all better served if we maintain the integrity of the teaching license that is earned through a college or university education.

Obviously there are bigger issues at work here, too, some arising from funding gaps in public education, but those don't matter much to the individual teacher who needs a new license.  Given our limitations, I think the best we can expect is to help each individual find the combination of options that will work best in their situation, including alternate offerings when they exist, so they can make educated choices.  Without compromising the integrity of our licensing system, I don't think there is a single solution that fits for everyone with this type of dilemma.


Kenneth L. Liske, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Music, Education, and Human Services
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Music
800 Algoma Boulevard, Oshkosh, WI  54901

office: Arts & Communication Center N228
voice: 920-424-7029; fax: 920-424-1266; email: liske@uwosh.edu

On Jan 13, 2009, at 12:23 PM, Gregory Dennis wrote:

Dear University Music Educators,

    My question to all of you is, what are you doing for those public and private school teachers who  
are being asked (told, if they want to keep their jobs) to teach in an area of music that they are
not certified, and "Oh, by the way, you'll need to get certified"?  Over the last eight years about 14
people from all over the state contacted me at UW-Platteville about that very issue.  These were
people who had gotten their degrees from your universities, but no one would work with them
individually to help them get their additional certification once they were out teaching, unless they
stopped teaching, and came back to school (and sometimes not even if they were willing to do
that).  One young lady who is currently teaching in Greenwood, WI (I won't mention her name)
and is instrumentally certified contacted me last spring.  She was asked to teach both instrumental
and choral and I know she is very capable.  She contacted four universities (I won't mention who
you are.) and nobody would help her including the university from which she graduated.  
    Well, I'm retired now.  I started off this school year thinking I could help her, but have found it
impossible.  My replacement at UW-P is very capable, but like all first year college teachers, is
overwhelmed.  Somebody please help Marixa LaMont.  Oh, I said that I wasn't going to mention
her name.  I know that you don't get paid for working with people one on one.  It shouldn't be the
way it is, but that is the way it is.  I don't want to make Marixa the poster child for this issue and I
know that you are trying to prevent this issue for future teachers.  But for a lot of music educators
in our state, this is a serious problem, NOW.

    Most sincerely,

                 Gregory Dennis, UW-Platteville