Demand High Quality

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“Believin’ all the lies that they’re tellin’ ya
Buyin’ all the products that they’re sellin’ ya
They say jump and ya say how high” – RATM

Today I received some troubling news.  I even wrote a short tweet on twitter about it, but I took it down because I felt it deserved an entire post instead of just a short 140 character shout out.  It is that time of year when administrators are getting ready to hire teachers (if they haven’t already).  This is a sacred process that is of the most critical nature.  A principal is tasked with finding and selecting the most qualified and best suited individual to help at least 30 lives learn and improve for an entire academic year. This is a task that should not be taken lightly and one that should have the strongest of criteria to fulfill.

I was speaking with a colleague on the east coast.  I respect her well and know that she always strives to do what is best for her students as well as for her school.  She mentioned that she was upset because of the new teacher that was being hired at her school.  When I asked “why” she gave me an answer I wasn’t expecting and I must say it also had me quite upset because I realize the practice doesn’t just take place at her school but is something that happens across the nation on a regular basis.  The teacher that they were hiring isn’t qualified for the position.  This could mean a lot of things so let me be specific.  The teacher does not hold a teaching credential, has served as a substitute teacher (which has very minimal requirements in most states) and has been selected instead of increasing the search for a more qualified individual.  I feel bad for a lot of people in this situation.  I feel bad for the new teacher… its not going to be an easy road, I feel bad for the students who are going to receive a sub-standard teacher instead of at least a teacher with basic qualifications, and I feel bad for the school that has an administrator too lazy to roll up her sleeves and conduct a thorough search.

I know they’ve been looking for a while and not found any candidates.  My colleague tells me one teacher was offered the position but found another job due to the slow nature of her administrator to actually select and notify the candidate.  However, if traditional search methods aren’t working then there should be something outside the box.  Look out of state, go online and post the position with video interviews. Find the ideal QUALIFIED candidate.  Right now this administrator is gambling with the education of her students and its just not right.  It is her decision to make but in my opinion it makes for a very weak administrator.  I was once faced with similar difficulties in locating an ideal candidate for a position.  However I was prepared to step into the classroom if necessary with my teaching credential to ensure that the students received the education they deserved.

I had a set policy when I ran my school.  EVERY teacher had to be credentialed. That even included substitute teachers.  I know that many schools do not have that policy.  I also know that one school had a substitute come in with minimum qualifications (basically a BA degree, no teaching credential, not even a course taken in teaching or pedagogy) and at the end of the day multiple students emailed the actual teacher saying how nice the substitute was, but that they needed help because they couldn’t understand the assignment or what he taught them.

Education has, for too long, stagnated and floated upon the river of poor education brought on by the deluge of unqualified candidates.  The current minimum qualifications are horrible but at least they exist and should be met.  Any administrator that ignores this really does a discredit to the profession of teaching.  Only the most overwhelming emergency should excuse them from making this horrible choice.

Stand up parents, teachers, and administrators.  DEMAND  that your children receive education from at least MINIMALLY qualified teachers (I SAY DEMAND EVEN MORE) and if you find that your school has hired a teacher who doesn’t even have a credential… move your child or demand your administrator be held accountable.

For too long the system has said “JUMP” and we’ve responded “HOW HIGH”.  It is time we respond with “HOW, WHY, and it better be high quality.”

This happened to my friend on the east coast, but I am certain its happening in just about every state out there.  I’d love to hear your opinion on this and ideas about how we can stop this practice from continuing.

Waivers are not the answer.

3 thoughts on “Demand High Quality

  1. John, I totally agree with you about finding high-quality teachers. However, I have witnessed situations where a teacher was hired without a credential who turned out to be an excellent teacher: highly engaging and able to truly connect to students.

    I wonder instead if there is something broken with our credentialing process. I can say that my six classes did nothing to prepare me adequately for teaching. Perhaps we need less of a “credentialing” procedure and more of an apprentice-style program.

    I do agree that we need to find the highest quality teachers and get them in classrooms. I just don’t know if our current teacher preparation programs are the best way to professionally develop teachers.

    • Hello Travis, you raise an excellent point. I’m not saying that its impossible to get a good teacher who doesn’t have a credential… what I am saying is that it is a gamble. I agree with you, I don’t think that our current credential process is nearly good enough to truly call someone a highly qualified teacher (as you know in California that is the term they use for having a valid credential), but it is a bare minimum. It means that the candidate has at least had some exposure to pedagogy and methodology. You could get a good person who has those talents naturally but it is like rolling the dice in Vegas. Hope you get someone good and that it doesn’t come up snake eyes.

      I think that the current programs and credentialing need to be revamped and made more demanding so that it really does show a high quality candidate. Too often schools of education at universities just become the cash cows and allow anyone to pass hoping that a principal will remove them before tenure. You really do have to be an extremely poor candidate to be removed from those programs.

      That is why I’m saying that even though it needs a lot of work…. it is at least some type of barometer to indicate the quality of the candidate that walks through the door. If you cannot put forth the effort and time to even begin the credentialing program or to meet that minimum qualification (as low as it is) then I believe the risk is too great to allow a teacher into the classroom where his or her influence can affect 30 or more students for the rest of their lives.

      Please continue to share your thoughts or even if you might have comments on what I’ve just written. I believe this is a necessary conversation.

  2. John, I totally agree with you…It makes me so upset that teachers are still being hired with a BA degree and NO credential… would people go to a doctor that has no medical credential?? Would you trust a lawyer, or a dentist or a pilot who has not been specifically trained for the profession? It is an insult to those of us who care enough,not only to get the credential, but to continue to update said credential as well as continue with PD throughout the year. I too have seen teachers who have not had training not only become teachers, but also become teacher leaders OVER those who do have the proper training. I have heard administration say “she is a natural teacher” I guess if I gave some one an aspirin for a head ache, you could say I am a “natural doctor” The whole situation is insulting to the profession and detrimental to our students. No wonder there is such lack of respect for teachers… Anybody can do it! If said teacher and administrator really cares about the education of our students and the profession as a whole, they should go back and get their credential.

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