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21 June 2016 @ 10:04 am
How hard could it be?  
The debate is on again (was it ever off?) about what it takes to become a teacher. The headline reads: "Georgia school district hiring 450 teachers, no education degree required." Here is the link: http://nbc4i.com/2016/06/20/georgia-school-district-hiring-450-teachers-no-education-degree-required/ and the startling (to journalists at least) statistic: "colleges around the nation deal with a 50% drop in students who want to be teachers." And it goes further to note that colleges are blaming the 2007 recession as the reason why students are not going into education. REALLY?

Here are the requirements for the alternate path to certification (and please do note that those who take advantage of this "offer" do have to become certified; it is just that they can do the certification while they are already employed.

You are eligible for an Induction Pathway 4 certificate in Georgia if you meet the following four requirements:

1. A bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited institution. If your highest degree is a bachelor’s degree and it was earned less than 10 years prior to the date of application, you must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. If you do not, you may still qualify by submitting proof of acceptance into a GaPSC-accepted educator preparation program or an accredited advanced degree program.

2. Passing score on the GACE Program Admission Assessment (PAA), or exemption. The following can be used to exempt the GACE PAA:

SAT - 1000 on Verbal/Critical Reading, and Math
ACT - 43 on English and Math
If tested with the old GRE® format (before August 1, 2011), candidates need a GRE® composite score of 1030 on Verbal and Quantitative
If tested with the new GRE® format (on or after August 1, 2011), candidates need a GRE® composite score of 297 on Verbal and Quantitative

3. Passing score on the appropriate GACE content assessment.

4. Passing score on the Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment - Program Entry (Test Code 350).

This is not exactly a cake walk. And this is just admission to the program. I know that in the 80s when the oil industry took a downturn in Houston that many fled to alt cert programs for jobs. I had some of them in my grad classes. Many of them did not complete the alt cert programs. Many displayed an appalling understanding of what being a teacher actually entails other than "weekends off," "summers off," and "banker's hours." Some went the route of alt cert and stayed for a couple of years until they could find a better job. And a few stayed on.

But I want to challenge a misconception from this article: there is a reason beyond the recession (if it is even a factor) that people are not becoming teachers. Think of the press teachers face. They are unprepared; they are bad teachers; they do not do X, Y, or Z competently, And then there is that summer's off no weekends, short hours stuff as well. Look at what Paige and Duncan and now King say about how we need to test kids to make sure teachers are doing their jobs. Think of the endless rounds of testing where all teachers do is monitor students taking tests. Think of the elimination of school libraries and librarians and counselors and other services. Think of one of our top leaders in DC who says free and reduced lunches give kids "an empty soul."

And I think of folks who are incredulous when they learn that librarians have to possess a graduate degree. Why, they ask, when all they do is check books in and out? My response is always that the woman who does my hair has a certificate, went to school to learn how to cut and color. I would not go to an amateur. Nor would I let someone untrained, uneducated fix my car or my toilet. I do not have a "how hard could that be?" attitude about almost any task I can imagine. Heck, I had to teach the former residents of the back bedroom to sort laundry, sew on a button, plan and cook a meal. How hard could that be? HARD!

This is NOT to say that some folks can come to teaching as a second or third career. But it IS to say that the sneering attitude some have about educator preparation (looking at you NCTQ) has seriously damaged education as a career choice for some. Show some respect; pay a living wage; grant educators autonomy. Then, I suspect we will see more entering the profession.
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