After speaking with various community stakeholders, one senator has made it her goal to improve the island’s classrooms with two bills that she’s recently released.
Situated at the front of every classroom each day with either chalk or marker in hand, teachers become a staple in every developing child’s life.
In order to improve the conditions of the current local education system, Senator Regine Biscoe Lee has introduced two bills that could not only better the quality of learning for some students but the quality of life for their instructors.
Bill 202-35 would allow for exemptions for former professors seeking to gain teaching certificates. According to a press release, former professors would normally be required to undergo a series of competency tests in order to obtain a teaching certificate from the Guam Department of Education.
But Senator Lee says that this legislation would make the process for interested educators easier.
“It’s been a perennial problem that there are teacher shortages with the Department of Education, so that’s a problem that’s come to our attention numerous times, so I tried to think of ways we can address that,” the senator said.
“The second bill takes a look at cutting some of the bureaucracy and red tape and allowing former professors to step into the classroom and continue to serve in that way,” she added.
Sanjay Sharma, the president of the Guam Federation of Teachers, a local labor union, says that the bill may be useful in supplementing school classrooms.
“It would help in getting some of the college professors to teach some of the AP classes or if we were to have dual-enrollment. That would help that process. But if we were to have a full time teacher in the classroom, I don’t think this would help out in the long run, but I think it would help alleviate if we were to have a transition to having UOG professors come into our classrooms,” Sharma said.
As for the second bill from Senator Lee’s office, Bill 203-35 would enable teachers and support staff to negotiate their pay every three years through an employee organization – an issue that Sharma says needs to be addressed.
“In terms of pay, we’re very behind the rest of the nation. We only out beat Puerto Rico and that means we’re near dead last,” Sharma said.
According to Senator Lee, there’s no substitute for a great teacher and that the passage of these bills could help enrich the lives of the future.
“Everybody says that education could be a silver bullet to address issues about poverty, economic pain in somebody’s life. We’re putting our money where our mouth is to ensure that our teachers are paid well and ensuring that we have professionals in the classroom who can help our students grow and thrive should be on everybody’s priority list,” the senator said.