You don't have to be a teacher in the Missouri public school system to know that necessity is mother of invention Â-- but it might help.

The Missouri Senate passed legislation late last week making it easier for people lacking education degrees to gain approval to teach in Missouri's public schools. The supporting senators understand that finding enough teachers is challenge for many of the state's public schools.

Sen. Luann Ridgeway sponsored the bill. The Smithville Republican warns that Missouri faces "a critical teacher shortage," according to the Associated Press. Missouri schools opened this school year advertising for 1,000 open positions, according to backers of the bill.

The bill would clear the way for people without college teaching degrees but with expertise in particular subjects enter the classroom after becoming certified by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence. The nonprofit group was founded in 2001 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the AP reported.

Ms. Ridgeway's proposal drew fire predictably from the Missouri National Education Association and others including Democratic Sen. Joan Bray of St. Louis. Critics complain that the new process is quicker and costs less money to gain certification than it does through Missouri's existing system of alternative teacher certification, according to the AP. The existing system requires second-career teachers to take some college courses.

After negotiations with the opposition, the bill's sponsors added language in the House requiring teachers who use the program to undergo subsequent classroom evaluations and pass a standardized test on the principles of teaching. The compromise opened the legislative door for a vote that sends the measure to the Senate.

Missouri schools need more teachers. Unions may not like this change. But Ms. Ridgeway's bill deserves a chance to work for our children.

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