Sunday, July 09, 2006

370 Teachers Dismissed

Allow me to give my standing ovation for the Washington D.C. school system!

They have dismissed 370 teachers for failure to complete their certification as promised. Of course, because of their dramatic action, along with the usual retirements and such, they are now looking at trying to fill around 750 vacancies. Vacancies that could potentially (and probably will) leave some of their classrooms with permanent substitutes throughout the school year (I know that's possible and probable because I've seen it here in Dallas). So why am I so excited over this move?

I am hoping this move is about higher expectations for the teachers of our most precious commodities...the children...our future.

Here's the way I see it. The fact that they "dismissed" 370 teachers for not obtaining their certification shows that they are looking for certified (and hopefully, qualified) teachers. Though there may be quite a few certified teachers out there, they do not want to teach. Therefore, the burden is placed on the school to attract certified teachers into the teaching field.

Here's what I think could be good: Because the pool is so small, maybe they will have to increase teachers' salaries to attract more people. As word gets out that education is a valued field--demonstrated by the quality of educators they seek out and the amount of salary they offer--other people may be willing to choose education as a field of study. As the pool of educators increase, it creates competition. The employer no longer has to accept whatever he/she is given. They can ask for higher qualifications. For the potential educator, knowing that there are others who will be competing for the same job causes them to work harder and ensure they meet a higher standard of excellence.

Law firms don't take just anyone off the street because they have to. People who go into law know that it is a rigorous field with high expectations. They know they will have to compete for jobs against other lawyers. They know their degree, along with their abilities in the courtroom or at the negotiating table, will be what determines whether or not they get the job. Why do we not have these same expectations for the teachers of our future leaders?

It's going to take more than just Washington D.C. to change the face of teaching. It's going to take other cities as well. It's also going to take "we, the people." In order for dramatic change to occur, we must be willing to pay for the increases. We must be willing to seek out the good for all children...not just the children in our own child's school. Maybe if we sought out this change we could create a system where people wouldn't feel the need to spend thousands of dollars on private schools. Their money could then be put back into neighborhood schools where all children attended...together. Maybe it's a pipe dream. But my hope is that Washington D.C. is starting something that will get other cities and school districts thinking about expecting more from their teachers as well.
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