Wednesday, October 15

Uncertified teachers?

Apparently Sen. McCain thinks it's all right to have people teaching in our classrooms without certification:
We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which -- or have the certification that some are required in some states.
Say what?!

Our students deserve better. What is so bad about certifying our teachers before sending them into the classroom?


  1. Actually, Teach for America is a really good program - Sweetie did it for 2 years out of college. It's an Americorps program (or at least works the same way) where participants get emergency certification and teach in areas where they cannot hire adequate teachers otherwise. Sweetie did his service in rural Louisiana.

  2. I'm strongly of both opinions on this one. My experience as an undergrad in the education department showed me that the traditional approach to educating elementary and high school teachers is insufficiently rigorous. So I agree that we need to find ways to draw talented people without traditional credentials into the profession.

    On the other hand, my experience in higher ed now is showing me that professors and librarians really need a lot more training in learning theory and cognitive psychology. So we need a way to expose those talented individuals to the professional body of knowledge.

    It's not an either-or.

  3. Teach for America is a way to keep costs down in school districts by sending in temporary teachers who are only committed to a school for two years-thus earning salaries that are on the low end of the scale. They also will never require a pension.
    Salaries and pensions are the two largest part of a schools' budget.
    It's not about children - it's about cost cutting.

  4. Swankette - thanks for sharing that. I didn't know Teach for America is the program TRP participated in.

    I was more responding to the latter part of the Senator's statement. He seemed to imply that after serving in the military a veteran was qualified to teach and should be exempted from certification.

  5. Greg,

    The entire reason that Teach for America and Troops to Teachers exists is because there are not nearly enough certified teachers out there--and those that are certified do not wish to teach in traditionally underresourced areas.

    Fresh out of college, and with just 9 days of student teaching in a Los Angeles elementary school, was I as prepared as a certified teacher (like the one I eventually became)? No. But the question is irrelevant because there were no certified teachers who sought my position. If there were, Louisiana law would have required me to be out of a job. (To my knowledge, the law is similar in most other states.) So Anonymous's statement that TFA and TTT serve merely as cost-cutting measures is not an issue with TFA or TTT, but with law-breaking districts. If superintendents and personnel directors follow the law, emergency-certified teachers would never be hired in certified teachers' place.

    The choice isn't between TFA/TTT and certified teachers. It's between TFA/TTT and other emergency-certified teachers. My principal in Louisiana would literally go to Wal-Mart every August and walk the aisles, asking "Do you have a college degree?" and if the shopper/worker said yes, follow up with "Would you like to teach third grade this year?" It's a matter of who you give the emergency certification to in order to fill the empty classroom.

    I agree with'd be wonderful if all teachers were certified. But in the parts of the world where the kids are undereserved (which is to say poor and of color), that ain't happening. Certified teachers don't tend to want to go there. They (and I include myself in this) prefer suburban jobs with more money and fewer problems.

    Incidentally, as of 1992, I had to pass the NTE to teach in Louisiana for longer than a there -was- a certification requirement of sorts. Not that I necessarily supported that. As a guy who does well on standardized tests, I passed. But the school had to fire a great teacher down the hall--an incredibly gentle guy and fine role model--because he didn't pass it. As I recall, he was merely replaced by another emergency-certified teacher. I don't think the school was better off with the change.

    The obvious solution to this is to triple teacher salaries tomorrow so loads of well-trained teachers are clamoring for every teaching position out there.

    But since that won't happen, I was very, very happy to see McCain support TFA and TTT (especially since several of my best-ever colleagues have been retired military personnel).

    Of course, I was also happy to see Obama support them!

    (And Bush, and Perot, and Clinton, and Gore...)

    I've got more on this issue, Greg...just let me know! But McCain is right on this one. People are already "exempted from certification"--just like I was--simply due to a dearth of certified teachers. I'd rather it be a passionate military veteran who's choosing to teach or a sharp college grad than a random shopper at Wal-Mart.

  6. I just wanted to put in a little in put from the high school stance. I'm a senior and I've met alot of bad teachers and alot of good, and I understand that teacher retention rates are really bad right now, but I don't think that means we should support uncertified teaching. I had a Biology teacher once. Top notch guy, used to work over at this fancy lab so when he wanted to get into teacher the school was honored to have someone with that much first hand experience teaching the students. What they hadn't counted on though was he was a horrible teacher. He couldn't handle us but they've kept him on for years. The people going through these programs will be no different. I learned nothing from that man and his impatience only made the students worse. How can we afford to allow that in schools. Like I said I know there's a need right now, but we should fix it. Most teachers leave because of issues with the school systems. Maybe if things were altered then more teachers would come back. I looked at some of Obama's plans and I thought it kinda looked like he was on the right track, or atleast had the right ideas. Support certifications and better prpare teachers to try deffer the teacher retention rates.

    Add on to the site TeacherRefPoet had:

    I just think we should try harder. The youth is the future.

  7. Just because you have a piece of paper that says your a teacher doesn't mean that you are one.Some of the best teachers I have known were subs. who stayed on after teacher left midyear.AMericans think that if you have been to college then you know something Newsflash : most "teachers" have studied for four years and that's it!That's all they have even done anything and quite a few of them spent their college years drinking and smoking crack still our county seems to think that the few brain cells they haven't burnt are enough to teach children to be responsible adults!I have met first graders who have had more common sense then their teachers!people need to get over the awe of a college diploma as they are to easily obtained to be precious anymore.Real teachers are the ones who care about raising children to be people our country can be proud of , in the military or not.Whether this is what John McCain was saying or not isn't the issue it is what every american should be acting upon

  8. Anonymous,

    Not only is your overly-broad characterization factually incorrect - most teacher certification programs I aware of start with a bachelor's degree and then require another year or two of study - but your libelous claim that they spend college years doing drugs is incredibly offensive. I work daily with public school teachers from elementary school through university faculty. While they are all human with their faults, I have found that all but an extremely small minority are excellent teachers who are absolutely devoted to educating their students. You are unfairly insulting a great number of good people who are doing a vital and often-unappreciated service to society.

    Have you graduated from or attended a university? Your comment seems more based on the fictional "Animal House" stereotype than personal experience.