Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Meet the New 'What the Hell, I Got Nothing Else To Do' Teacher

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 9:11 AM

    "You mean I can teach with just this diploma saying I have a bachelor's degree? The one I just got at graduation?"
    "That's right, so long as it's in a subject that's taught in middle school or high school."
    "I'm an American History major."
    "Then you can teach history to 6th through 12th graders in any public school in Arizona."
    "It's just temporary, right? I won't be a real teacher."
    "Yes, you'll be a real teacher. They'll give you a Subject Matter Expert Standard teaching certificate. That means you'll be a real teacher with your own classroom full of students."
    "Not a student teacher? I won't have, you know, a real teacher in there with me?"
    "Nope. On the first day, you'll be on your own."
    "But I'll have to take a test first, right? To see if I know enough to teach? I mean, I'm not sure I'm, um, qualified. I just barely passed some of my classes, and I've never really thought about teaching before."
    "No, you don't have to pass a test or do anything else to demonstrate knowledge of your field. You'll be exempt from the professional knowledge proficiency requirements other teachers have to worry about. That diploma in your hand is all you need, along with a fingerprint clearance card to show you're not a criminal."
    "OK, but they'll make me take some of those education classes other teachers take, right?"
    "No, not that either. You can start teaching without any education classes, and you're not required to take any in the future."
    "But what if I bomb out? Will they take away my, whadayacallit, my . . .?"
    "Your Subject Matter Expert Standard teaching certificate? No, the worst thing that can happen is, if in two years the district decides you don't meet the professional knowledge requirements, your certificate can be suspended. Later, if you can convince them you've learned what you need to know, it'll be reinstated."
    "Does this thing, this certificate, expire? I probably won't teach that long, but if I decide I want to, do I need to get a real teaching certificate?"
    "Not according to the law that just passed. This is a real certificate, and it looks like it's good as long as you want to teach."
    "Like I said, I don't think I want to teach all that long. I mean, I never even thought about it until you brought it up. But I guess I can give teaching a try. What do I have to lose? I mean, I kinda know what teachers do. I've been sitting in their classrooms since I was five. You think I should do it?"
    "Let me tell you something, buddy, you're not going to keep living in your bedroom eating free food for the rest of your life, and I don't see anyone knocking on your door offering you a job. Those schools are so desperate for teachers, they'll take just about anyone. Even you."
    "OK, mom, I'm convinced. Can you drive me down to pick up a teaching application?"

Yes, I know reporters writing about the new teacher certification rules say you need some work experience along with a bachelor's degree. They're wrong. I've read SB1042 a dozen times, and I've spoken with some people who are far more experienced reading legislation than I am, and they say the law is clear. To get one of those Subject Matter Expert Standard teaching certificates, you need a bachelor's in a field taught in 6th through 12th grade, period. It's true, you can also get the certificate if you have the right kind of work or teaching experience, but those parts of the legislation don't make any mention of educational requirements. The way it's written, with work or teaching experience, you don't need any college at all, or even a high school diploma for that matter, to have your very own public school classroom. If the district wants you hire you, you're in.

If this scenario sounds preposterous, talk to the people who wrote the legislation and their colleagues who voted for it. And those of you out there who write about education, unless you've read the bill carefully and are still convinced people need work experience on top of a bachelor's degree to get the new certificate, you should make it clear to your readers how little it takes to teach in an Arizona public school.

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