Tennessee is all abuzz with another study to go after real degreed and credentialed teachers. I say “real” because the powerhouses have even tampered with certification. In many places a certified teacher doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Teach for America and other alternative training programs rule in this state. They are running away with money bags throughout the nation too http://www.politico.com//story/2013/10/teach-for-america-rises-as-political-powerhouse-98586.html. So how does one fight back?
I am perplexed and tired that at this time in history, a country like ours is trying to claim that with five weeks of training someone with a degree in a subject, any subject, will do a better job teaching than someone who takes coursework in education. I’m also tired of trying to prove real teachers who spend time studying how children learn and obtain student teaching experience before they teach are better at teaching. It seems like a goofy argument.
I mean it is disturbing that many ever bought into this fake debate to begin with. Teaching should be a real career. Other countries know this. I was suspect of TFA from the start. I never liked it when it was sold as simply a sweet program to go to where there were no teachers. With the money flooding TFA they could have spiced-up more College of Ed. programs to help disadvantaged students and recruited real teachers to go to the tough schools….Better yet, they could have fixed the schools—through support and resources—and helped their communities! Now TFA is promoted as the best mode of teaching…yet less can never be more!
I know the argument. Some will say schools of education haven’t always done a good job. Maybe. Sometimes they haven’t. But many of them did do a good job once upon a time. I know because I attended three universities that once were outstanding. And if they weren’t as good as they should have been we should have made them better (I’m thinking Finland) not get rid of them altogether.
We also know now that many of the claims made, that our public schools were failing were false. So shouldn’t we backtrack and try to reclaim some of what we had—fixing what needed to be fixed? It would seem to me that would include creating a real career teaching force.
Often the TFA fans say that if you are teaching a subject like biology, you should study more biology in college and not have to take namby pamby education courses. To which I would say you should take a lot of biology AND education courses to help you understand the students you will be working with and how to instruct them in that particular subject. There is much pedagogy to learn about teaching in different areas and at different grade levels. To think otherwise is both arrogant and naïve.
I’ve known career changers who go into teaching thinking teaching is a piece of cake. They learn pretty fast it isn’t easy. They either get additional skills to make it or they abandon ship. With TFA, no matter how badly one might do, there is always the opportunity to leave and possible move on to administrative positions in education! So even if you know little about children—how they learn and the best way to teach them—you can wind up in a position of command. This really makes no sense.
It is time to bring back the American education degreed and credentialed teacher. One who has subject expertise and who has studied how to actually teach and reach the students who come to school with uniqueness and individual challenge. If you teach math, you should learn about math and how to teach it. If you teach special education, you should be qualified in the particular disability area or in multiple areas before you are allowed to work with children. Credentials should matter! Regulations here are important.
In the meantime, parents ask all your children’s teachers what they studied and where they got their degree. Along with everything else you are being asked to do, I think it is important to put pressure on your school administrators and local school district not to hire those with little teaching experience unless they can actually show you they tried but could not get a genuine teacher. Then work to bring more truly degreed and credentialed teachers into your schools.