The Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation has hit on an idea that I have been bouncing around for a while, as well. JLF’s Terry Stoops is calling for the state to drop certification requirements for teachers in public schools’ virtual classrooms:
“Teacher certification requirements are among the most onerous rules enforced by state education agencies,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, JLF Director of Education Studies. “Those requirements have the potential to place serious limits on the scope, quality, and accessibility of virtual schooling for years to come.”
Stoops labels state teacher certification mandates “the most serious barrier to the widespread adoption of virtual schooling.”
“This type of instruction allows qualified instructors to deliver lectures, content, and assessments using Internet-based communications tools,” Stoops said. “What’s standing in the way of this innovative approach? It’s not an antiquated technological infrastructure or inadequate funding. It’s the application of one-size-fits-all teacher certification rules and regulations designed to maintain the educational status quo.”
Certification rules block high-quality teachers in multiple ways, Stoops explained.
“These regulations typically disqualify those who live outside a state from teaching in the state,” he said. “That means a high-caliber teacher like Jaime Escalante, the California math teacher profiled in the movie ‘Stand and Deliver,’ would not have been able to teach in a North Carolina virtual school unless he had a current teaching license in this state.”
Even highly qualified teachers within the state can be blocked from the classroom, Stoops said. “Higher education faculty, private-sector professionals, private school faculty, and independent scholars cannot teach a virtual course in a state-managed North Carolina virtual school without a current state teaching license, regardless of talent.”
The state-operated N.C. Virtual High School honors certification reciprocity agreements from other states, meaning certified teachers in one state can “transfer” their certification to another participating state, Stoops said. “Unfortunately, North Carolina does not have 100 percent reciprocity with any state,” he said. “An out-of-state teacher hoping to work with North Carolina’s virtual school might need to take various steps to meet state certification requirements, along with submitting extensive paperwork and paying an $85 processing fee.”
I would take it one step further: DROP certification standards entirely. They are a protection racket for university education department faculty and alumni, and members of teacher unions. The requirements include nonsense such as 15 hour seminars on “discipline,” and how to maintain racial and gender diversity in classroom toys and displays. (FIfteen hours on discipline? How long does it take to tell them to grab the punks by the scruff of the neck and toss them out the door? And counting the number and determining the breakdown of black, Hispanic and white baby dolls in the kindergarten classroom? Wow.)
I have seen first hand how certification denies public school children excellent instructors. A friend of mine retired early as a partner in a major Wall Street firm. He is universally respected as an expert in finance. My friend moved to North Carolina and wanted to teach math to public high school students. He was TURNED DOWN by the county’s central office because he did not have this certification. If this guy has been turned loose in a public high school classroom, those kids would have been in for a real treat. They might have actually learned something.
The state’s grade schools should adopt the same standards that community colleges, colleges, and universities in the state follow. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a college instructor.) Instructors are required to have a minimum of a masters degree and 18 hours of coursework in their planned area of instruction. Ensure that we are actually putting EXPERTS in the classroom.
Currently, people are graduating from college education schools with no substantial expertise in anything like Math, Finance, Science, History, or English. Instead, they are bombarded with nonsense like: ensuring the same kids don’t sit together at lunch more than one day a week, maintaining racial and gender diversity in the classroom’s toys, and bureaucratic red tape.
Education today is first and foremost about indoctrinating people with leftist gobbledygook and scooping up government grant money. NO JOKE: One of my courses I taught featured a textbook that identified three examples of “Great Leaders” — Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Hillary Clinton. No mention of George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, et al. (This was a class at a public institution of higher learning in the United States.)
Today, most public grade school teachers’ knowledge about the subject matter they teach is limited to what it says in the teacher’s edition of the textbook. Let’s take Dr. Stoops’ idea and expand it to cover all aspects of education. Certification requirements are chasing away a lot of amazing potential teacher candidates, and denying our kids some incredible opportunities.