The state Board of Regents just made it easier to get certified to teach in New York public schools — just weeks after trying to shoot down a far better alternative-certification reform by the SUNY Charter Institute.
As retired teacher Larry Sand noted in Friday’s Post, there’s no general shortage of teachers in this country: Federal statistics show that the number of public-school teachers rose 13.8 percent over the last four years while student enrollment grew just 2 percent. Today’s 3.8 million teachers nationwide are up from 3.4 million in 2008.
But many areas do have problems finding qualified teachers in specific areas — especially math and the sciences.
The Regents, now thoroughly dominated by the teachers unions and other vested education interests, have responded by simply lowering standards. A while back, they killed the Academic Literacy Skills Test — an exam that measured would-be teachers’ reading and writing ability.
And last week they dropped the pass score on the “edTPA,” a test designed to measure ability to teach in specific subject areas, from 41 to 38 — and also created an appeals process for those who just miss the (lowered) bar.
On top of that, it will also allow some to pass on the basis of a portfolio of their work, including videos of their student teaching.
The changes will indeed make it easier to hire a new “physics” teacher — but less likely he or she will actually be ready to teach physics.
The Charter Institute, which governs standards for the charter public schools it has authorized, chose a different path: Allow those with serious subject-matter expertise, but no education degrees, to gain certification without spending years at an ed school.
Which makes great sense, since most schools of education focus on meaningless theory, rather than on the actual craft of teaching. (CUNY’s program is an honorable exception to this rule.)
The SUNY process requires a would-be teacher to get 30 hours of formal instruction, spend 100 hours in a working classroom led by an experienced teacher and finish various state workshops on bullying, violence prevention and child abuse.
Teachers colleges, teacher unions and other established interests hate this kind of alternate certification because it threatens their control, and their cash flow.
No matter that it lets qualified professionals start a second career fostering children’s dreams. As ever, the insiders put their own need far, far ahead of the kids’.