Senate approves alternate program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Citing a shortage of teachers, senators passed legislation late Wednesday making it easier for people lacking education degrees to gain approval to teach in Missouri’s public schools.

Supporters overcame a filibuster by Democratic Sen. Joan Bray, of St. Louis, only after they agreed to strengthen some of the testing and supervision requirements for second career teachers as the legislation moves through the House. The Senate passed the bill 25-5.

Sponsoring Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, warned that Missouri faces “a critical teacher shortage” that has not been filled either with traditional college teaching graduates or through the state’s existing alternative certification process.

But Bray said she feared the bill could lower the quality of teachers, a concern shared by one of the state’s largest teacher unions, the Missouri National Education Association