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A Better Way to Hire Teachers.

I am very suspicious of “certification.” I have had great teachers .. first in the post-depression K-12 schools in Boston, then in college and grad school, and then in the Navy. None of these folks had teaching certificates.
 
Why then do the public schools insist on teaching certificates as a sine qua non for hiring??  I suspect it is the union thing. The teacher’s unions are built on ed school graduates. The sad fact is that ed schools rank near the bottom in the selectivity of students. Certification is mainly to assure that teachers have taken ed courses and to shut out other, often better-educated people.
 
What are the alternatives? I am not at all sure that any degree requirements provide an answer. In part that is because I am skeptical that there is such a thing as a “teacher”. There are many kinds of teachers.
 
One thing I know, people who are not literate in the broad sense cannot be role models for kids. If I were able to make the rules, I want of all teachers to be literate in the sense that they are familiar with the culture that means everything from art to math to science that should define an educated woman or man. I see this as applying even at the kindergarten level because kids need to believe their teachers are smart.
 
Elementary schools do require demonstrated skills appropriate for that age group. However, those skills are not very relevant for High School. ALL teachers of content .. history, language, ; languages, sciences, voc ed, etc should be able to demonstrate expertise. This may mean a degree in the topic or it might mean evidence from life. Either way need to be able to be experts!
 
Life experiences should matter. Some of the folks who taught in the military have no degrees but are awesome teachers. Maya Angelou had no degrees BUT IMAGINE HER TEACHING WRITING! It does not take an MFA to be a painter. I know a lot of African Americans and indigenous Americans who are far better teachers of culture than the usual ed school graduate.
 
Note, that I have left out almost all of the Ed School stuff. That does not mean I do not see ed school courses as having value for a chemistry teacher but ed school chemistry is not prep for teaching chemistry. We graduate a lot of great folks with degrees in English, Spanish, African American studies .. none of whom can get jobs in their area of choice. Working as a teacher ought to be preferred over jobs at Uber or Starbucks.
 
If this were done right, I can imagine people who want to write or enjoy history as a hobby, choosing to teach to support their intellectual goals while serving as great role models.

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