NM Teacher Pay Chapter III: Worthless Certification

” (Jonathan) Keiler’s drama unfolded in a way familiar to schoolteachers and other employees of large, easily distracted public agencies.

He was told he needed to apply for an Advanced Professional Certificate, something required of 10-year teachers whose only discernible purpose, according to Keiler, is “to keep headquarters people employed.” He sent in his paperwork. Weeks passed. He was told it wasn’t enough. He needed 36 credits. He explained that because of his National Board status, he needed only 12. The staffing and certification office said that was news to them, but they would check.

More weeks passed. He was told his National Board credits weren’t certified. He sent in the certification from the American Council of Education. He was told they still wouldn’t count unless he paid a college or university to certify them. And, whoops, suddenly he didn’t have enough credits for even a standard certification.”–Jay Thomas.  Washington Post.  8.24.09

I was all set to unfurl some academic debates back around the turn of this century over whether K-12 teacher preparation programs are a waste of time, but I stopped myself.   I decided against it in part because of the dated nature of the research, but more than anything I decided I just couldn’t subject you people to academic pissing contests like:

This, (sorry I just see an abstract online)

and this reply to the findings

and this rejoinder to the reply

Although frankly, they make for some of the best unintentional humor writing I’ve read in quite some time.

So instead of going off into the parallel universe world of academia to unconvincingly attempt to legitimize my own view that K-12 teacher preparation programs and their resultant certificates are silly (using that largely worthless “studies show” approach), I’m just going to link to three columns from Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews.

Instead of fifth dimension academic jive, Mathews sticks to the real world lunacy of how teacher certification works in practice.  No, the columns don’t use terms like “studies show” or have statistical terms like “covariate” and “spurious curvilinear relationship” in them.  They just relate some of the incredibly stupid certification games played by state departments of education.

When a Gifted Teacher Has to Jump Through Hoops Just to Keep His Job, Change Is Needed

Certification Of Teachers as Painful Farce

Fixing the Teacher Certification Mess

In this last piece, Mathews recaps some comments from readers to the earlier pieces. I’ll close with a lengthy snippet, and would posit that a good, working knowledge of the next 100 or so words is, sadly, more valuable than all the teacher education coursework anyone has ever undergone since the birth of John Dewey:

“Mike McMorrow of Arlington, who emphasized he is a retired lawyer, not a teacher, had a two-step approach:

‘1. Get it in writing from a person who explicitly confirms that (s)he has the authority to decide the issue, and

2. The minute any difficulty arises downstream say, ‘Can we talk again in a couple of days after I consult with my lawyer and (s)he reviews my records on this point?’

My thought reading this advice was: good luck getting anything in writing. But McMorrow had that covered: ‘If the specialist advising cannot approve something, go up the chain of command. If the person is too busy to write a confirming letter, say you will send an e-mail to make it easier for that other person to confirm the advice in a few keystrokes (‘So my files are up-to-date’).
Always copy a third party into a ‘thank you’ note–your union representative or a higher management figure—remarking that you do so because you are so happy with the professional caliber of the assistance you have been given, blah, blah, etc. Keep all correspondence.'”

Have a good weekend….and get that in writing.


One thought on “NM Teacher Pay Chapter III: Worthless Certification

  1. Having recently received a temporary coaching license (good for one year) for little more than filling out an application and submitting $25 in a cashier’s check , I would have to agree that there is a lot of useless paper shuffling going on in education. But I will point out that while I do question what is to be gained by all the “highly qualified” paper and dossier writing, there is a need to keep people out of the profession if they are not qualified. Opening up schools to anyone with a BA, or MA doesn’t seem like it accomplishes the goal of having good teachers either. Not everyone with a JD degree knows how to handle an 8th grade social studies class, although I am impressed that someone would want to try. And I don’t think the Bar Association would let me in without some kind of paper showing my qualifications.

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