Rethinking Teacher Certification to Employ K-12 Adjunct Teachers

Recently, AIR published a report from Keri Ingraham, fellow at Discovery Institute, focused on the possibility of using adjunct teachers for K-12 classrooms for limited roles. Excerpts from this intriguing piece appear below:

Trends in higher education tend to trickle down to K–12 schools over time. In the K–12 setting, adjunct teachers could be hired as contractors, typically part-time, to fill teaching needs. As is the case in higher education, adjunct teachers would be assigned to teach courses and work with students for subjects in which they specialize. However, they would be exempt from some other responsibilities, such as decorating the classroom, ordering supplies, and participating in the full schedule of student-monitoring duties such as in the lunchroom or bus lot.

While some adjunct teachers may teach several classes a day, others may simply teach either one class period at the secondary level or one subject at the primary level—whether for one or multiple homeroom classes. Therefore, compensation would be based on the number and type of assigned classes.

Employing adjunct teachers has multiple advantages. First, since adjunct teachers are not permanent employees, staffing levels can be easily adjusted with changing enrollment numbers, which is a crucial need in the COVID-19 era. Second, the candidate pool of subject matter experts would widen since adjunct teachers could teach part-time while remaining in their current profession. Third, adjunct teachers could especially meet the need for highly qualified upper-level math and science teachers and even special education—positions that school districts typically find difficult to fill due to fewer applicants. Finally, adjunct teachers are cheaper to employ because school districts do not have to pay expensive full-time employee benefits to these part-time, nontenured teachers. 

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