State Rep. David Wood (R-Versailles) of District 58 pretty busy for the upcoming legislative session, but he has pre-filed one bill that aims to encourage continuing education for teachers in their subject matter.

Serving on the Missouri House of Representatives Budget Committee and Subcommittee on Appropriations for Health, Mental Health and Social Services will keep District 58 State Rep. David Wood (R-Versailles) pretty busy for the upcoming legislative session, but he has pre-filed one bill that aims to encourage continuing education for teachers in their subject matter.

House Bill 1493 would require school districts to recognize certain graduate and undergraduate hours as equivalent to a master’s degree on their salary schedules.

The point, according to Wood, is that while most teachers take graduate courses to advance on the pay scale, most get masters degrees and doctorates in administration or education instead of in the subject matter they teach or a related field in order to move on the salary schedule, though most do not go on to become administrators.

As a former educator and chairman of the House Joint Committee on Education, Wood expressed support for encouraging development and knowledge within a subject matter and its applied fields.

To encourage this, according to the bill text, “If a teacher has earned 30 credit hours in graduate-level courses or undergraduate-level courses in a field closely related to subjects taught by the teacher and approved by the school board of the district that employs the teacher, the teacher shall be considered to have a master’s degree in an academic teaching field for purposes of this section.”

This recognition would then have to be applied to the teacher’s salary if the pay scale the district uses includes additional compensation for a master’s degree.

The bill also limits a teacher from moving up the pay scale beyond a master’s degree in educational administration if that teacher does not go ahead and move over into an administrator position. The teacher can get credit for those hours or degree later if they go ahead and move into an administration position.

Wood used himself as an example. At one time, he was a math teacher who temporarily taught physics to help his school fill an opening until a physics teacher could be hired.

He took physics courses to earn temporary certification, he said, but got zero credit for it because they were not graduate courses or toward a master’s degree. However, he said, the physics courses actually helped make him a better math teacher in the long run. 

Another example could be a science teacher taking a dental hygiene course at a community college - dental hygiene being an applied science of biology or physical science. 

In addition to helping teachers teach better, this line of professional development for teachers could be the paradigm shift needed to help bridge the gap between the knowledge taught in school and how kids could use that knowledge in potential jobs.