A critical need in our state’s driver education and driver training programs today is a strengthening of the teacher selection, preparation, certification process, performance of the teacher, and structured learning experiences. The best way to search for ways to improve the instructional program is to have everything under one agency.
During the Southeast Region ADTSEA Conference, it was learned that all of the above is under one agency in Georgia and that the standards for teacher preparation and teaching courses are also same for high school and commercial school. In South Carolina the above is done by both the Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The standards and regulations are also different in South Carolina.
A person can prepare to become a teacher in commercial school by taking 40 hours of instruction by a teacher without a college degree; to prepare to teach in high school a person needs a degree and 12 hours credit in driver and traffic safety education. A person can teach the full eight hours of commercial classroom driver education in a one day setting; to teach the full 30 hours of high school classroom driver education, it would have to be in a day’s hour or hour and half classroom sitting until the 30 hours are done. High school and commercial school both have to teach six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, but there is no curriculum guide or mandate of what is to be taught. The Department of Education recently allowed driver education to be dropped if local school officials wanted it to be so (used to have a mandate that driver education had to be offered in each high school). All driving educators in high school or commercial school is certified by the SC Department of Motor Vehicles.
Perhaps a committee ought to be set up to study this further. It would be good to have a safety colleague or two from SCDTSEA to also be on such a committee. Maybe even take a survey of what other states are doing and what is working the best.
The desire is to see attempts for better quality teacher preparation and teaching measures for everyone involved in teacher driver and traffic safety education. More resources are needed to provide better standardization and supervision. One agency to be responsible for this tremendous task seems to be part of the answer.
Thank you for your consideration to improve the above situations. Please let us know of any attempts to this endeavor.