Archive for September 23, 2008

Alt Cert v. Regular Cert: Who’s Useless Classes Are Better?

September 23, 2008

The times has an interesting story about local alternative teaching certification programs. They’re for people who have four year degrees, but who have decided they want to become teachers. The programs are a scaled down version of an education degree, usually requiring about 18 hours of coursework and then two semesters of an internship or student teaching. They help the school system by increasing the number of qualified teachers. The alt cert program at LSUS is how I went from being an attorney to a seventh grade teacher.

The comments to the story are worth reading. Most of them are intelligent and interesting. This one, though, is outrageously stupid:

Shreveport has a lack of qualified teachers b/c of programs like this. When people get a college degree and cannot find a job, they always get in alternative programs. They have to do less work than the education majors which in [sic] not fair. . . . .

If I had to go to college 4 years and pass 4 tests, I think everyone else should too. If they have degrees in other fields they should not be allowed to make the same salary as me. Stupid things like this only happen in Shreveport. I can’t wait until January, because I will be in Bossier Parish working.

Pity Bossier Parish. Well, let’s take it one bit of ignorance at a time.

First, about the lack of prior jobs, I can tell you I had a decent one, and turned down an even better one, in order to enroll in the program. I could be earning near six figures right now, had I not made that choice. And the teacher with whom I commute, who is also alt cert, was a nurse prior to joining the program. There’s a few retired cops in it. Several businesspeople. Everyone, so far as I know, had a job before joining the alt cert program. Most of them paid more, too.

Second, yes, we do have less course work than education majors. That is a GOOD thing. Prior to this comment, I had yet to meet any educator or honest administrator who thinks the average education program is worth a crap. Education classes are some of the easiest and most useless college courses I have ever taken. Little to none of it is helpful in the classroom. You could get all of it you need in one class. If colleges of education wanted to truly make good teachers, they would turn their programs into something like apprenticeships. OJT is the only way to really learn. That’s sort of what the alt cert programs are, as most of us are teaching while in the program. So, it’s actually a better way to learn.

Third, yes, we do make the same amount. And since we do the same work, I think that’s perfectly fair. But if we want salary to depend on education, then, If anything, we ought to make more than regular cert teachers. Unlike those teachers, we spent our college careers actually getting an education, rather coloring in coloring books and cutting out pictures for bulletin boards. Then, in addition to the real education, we spent several years proving we could thrive in the real world. Finally, we added the alt cert program to the top of it. While we have not proven ourselves through all the same bureaucratic rites of passage as have regular teachers, surely we ought to be compensated for all our extra experience and knowledge.

I don’t think that person is at all representative of teachers. I’ve never had one complain to me about my alt cert, or hint that they thing I’m somehow less of a teacher. That’s because most of them recognize that what counts is what happens in the classroom.