Friday, July 14, 2006

Alternative Certification

Alternative Certification is something that we've resorted to in our education system because our public schools were losing teachers faster than we could replace them. So, we made it easier. Now, anyone wishing to be a teacher needs to go through a short program. In DISD, it's two-months. In other places, it's simply an online course that can be done in about a month. During that time (even before they have completed the short program), the person is placed in a full classroom of students...no educational background or experience with children necessary. DISD offers $39,150 to start. And that's only with a bachelor's degree and the basic 183 days of school (summers and holidays off). If you teach summer school or teach at a Learning Center, your pay increases. Not bad for someone who isn't degreed in the field they enter.

Am I against Alternative Certification (AC) teachers? Absolutely not. Some of my friends who are very intelligent and very good with kids have gone through the AC program. I'm sure they are wonderful in their classrooms.

However, after going through a masters and a doctoral program in Elementary Education, I realize how much there is to learn...about reading strategies, learning styles, discipline, cultural differences, parental involvement. There is so much research out there and so much to know! We're dealing with the same things now as they did back in the 1800's and don't even realize it because teacher's don't have to be educated in education!

When was the last time you chose a doctor who didn't have a medical degree, but decided mid-life that he/she wanted to practice medicine so they got online, looked at some of the self-diagnosing websites, then opened up their practice? What about lawyers? If you needed a lawyer, would you pick the one who has had no courtroom experience and no negotiation experience, but simply decided that the legal field paid well and was easy to get into? I would guess the answer would be no.

Then why do we do that to our children? Did we forget that education is what prepares those lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers, business people? I've heard people say that teaching isn't rocket science. Try to teach a group of kids. In my mind, it ranks pretty close. Just like any other, more "credible" and "respected" field, if you're doing a good job, I guarantee you there is much more to teaching than punching a clock from 7:30-3:30 every day and getting a paycheck at the end of every month...IF you're doing a good job.
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