Back to school? Background check. It's now the law for student teachers in Illinois, though one of the state's biggest suppliers of new teachers says it's nothing new. “When you say, I want to be a teacher, you are taking responsibility for someone else's child,” says Deb Garrahy, director of the Cecilia J. Lauby Teacher Education Center at Illinois State University. She says the background check has been a requirement for ISU's prospective teachers for perhaps a decade or more. The education community, she adds, must “do the best that we can in providing a safe environment for our teachers, and, certainly, a safe environment for our schoolchildren.”
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It really puts student teachers on the same level as regular school employees.
Garrahy adds other local districts, including Unit 5 in Normal, also have this requirement, so “our students have been used to this for quite some time; by that time they've already had about three of them.” The future teachers have more rigors, too. “We require that our students have a minimum of 100 pre-student teaching clinical hours, and fifty of those hours must be in a diverse classroom,” Garrahy says, adding “it really gives them the opportunity to see teaching from multiple lenses.”