Aspiring teachers react to governor's call for higher academic standards

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Some future teachers are raising concerns about one piece of Governor Phil Bryant's education package. The governor is calling for higher academic standards for students who want to enter a teaching program at any of the state's public universities. Some aspiring teachers in Ocean Springs say being a good teacher is more than just about making the right grades.

Twenty students are getting experience in the classroom by tutoring, making lesson plans, and observing teachers. They are enrolled in the Teacher Academy, a new program at Ocean Springs High School.

"I've always loved kids and I just like helping them," said Ocean Springs High junior Allie Morgan.

Most of the students in the Teacher Academy could be affected if Governor Bryant's bill to raise the academic standards for educators becomes law. The governor wants a minimum ACT score of 21 and a 3.0 grade point average, before students can enter a teaching program at Mississippi's eight public universities.

The future teachers said it takes more than just a grade to make a good teacher.

"You need compassion. You have to know what kids want and to just have fun to make them want to learn. Being smart has nothing to do with any of that. Just because you're smart doesn't mean that you're going to make other people smart, too," said Ocean Springs High junior Ashley Martin.

"I don't think the standards should be that high, because some people aren't good test takers," said Allie.

And the students said the tighter requirements could dash the dreams of students who have a passion for making a difference in the classroom.

"I met the requirements, but then when you hear your friends talking around saying they can't meet it, like, you feel bad for them," said Ocean Springs High senior Maggie Reid.

"I do believe that the requirements are a little high. I believe that it will probably discourage some students who would make phenomenal teachers from getting into that profession," said their teacher Suzanne Dudiak.

The students said tough standards are already in place for Mississippi teachers. Students who graduate have to meet student-teaching requirements and pass a test before they receive their teaching certification.

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