So, as we wrap this series of real things that we could be focusing on in education (as opposed to the hype about Common Core) let’s look at three of the more obvious parts that sadly don’t get pushed enough.
7. Sane Credentialing
I mentioned in the first blog of this series that the insane amount of useless “professional development” drives away a lot of good teachers because most sane people are not going to sit through that much useless shit.
Well there is something even before professional development that drives away a lot of teachers as well—just getting the credential.
Depending on the state, getting a teaching credential can involve as little as a B.A., taking a teaching program along with student teaching, a few state tests (including a test on the state Constitution…yeah, because the article on mining rights in Arizona comes up so often in my literature class), and of course a finger print clearance. In other states you basically have to get a Master’s degree to be allowed to have a full teaching credential.
You know what you actually need? The B.A. in your subject area, no more than 2 semesters on developmental psychology, the finger print clearance, and experience. Teaching is an art, it has nothing to do with what you can learn in a class—it can only be learned and perfected by doing. Best education program on the planet or worst, a teacher’s first year teaching will be such a mess that the word clusterf!@# doesn’t quite cover it (even if it appears to be a fairly good year, I promise you that teacher is running through a thousand and one mistakes they made that day and they are beating themselves up about it).
But putting all these tests and courses and hoops and useless courses in the way prevent people who would be good teachers from ever thinking about the profession. Who in their right mind wants to jump through almost as many hoops as someone in law or the medical profession for a whopping 50K a year?
And there are the people who do get that Masters in Education (or worse their Ph.D.). I won’t say that everyone who gets a higher degree is an idiot…but teaching is an 80 hour a week job, if you had time to get a higher degree then you probably were neglecting your students. Tell me again how not doing your job makes you a better teacher? And I will say from experience, when it comes to education, the more degrees you have the less you actually know about teaching.
8. Allow for school choice
Here’s an obvious one. As anyone who has seen Waiting for Superman or you know spent even five minutes looking at the state of public schools knows school choice is a good thing. Vouchers, charters, homeschooling, online schools, private schools…yeah not all of them are better than every public school. But on the whole alternatives offer better education to students. All you really need to know is that the profession that sends their children to private schools in the highest portion are, you guessed it, public school teachers. And that’s just private schools (the numbers get higher when you factor in charters, vouchers, online options and parents who were teachers but decide to home school their children).
And what is great about this is that it forces the public schools to actually get better if they want to keep their students. Amazing, it’s as if competition is a rule of economics that always breeds better quality products for the customer.
Now, of course, there is a fairly legitimate complaint against school choice. The fact is that some of those alternatives are worse than their public school counter parts. I guess the easiest way to speed the death of these terrible schools would be to have some kind of standardized set of minimum goals every grade would have to meet to show whether or not a school was meeting those base level standards….but what would you call this Common set of Core skills that every student should learn….hmmmm….I’ll have to think about that. But adopting such a set of standards would be a boon to alternative schools at it would drive the schools that can’t make the grade out of field.
Finally my last, and most outrageous suggestion
9. Parents raise your children!
Do not let the schools do it. Read to them and make sure they can read before you ever take them to kindergarten. Teach them math. Discuss books, and morals, and ideas with them. Be a parent for god’s sake. Be their biggest cheerleader when they succeed and their harshest critic when they act recklessly. Be there for them. RAISE THEM. It’s not the teacher’s, or the school’s, or society’s job to raise your child, it’s yours. YOURS. Stop shifting that responsibility onto others. If everyone would do this one little thing, you’d be amazed how all the problems in education wouldn’t even be relevant.
Every hour you spend on just one of these will be more effective than railing for a month about the Common Core…so please before you tell me how you’re concerned about the state of education, show me that you actually understand what the problems actually are.