Alternative Teachers Certification
A sad and daunting reality became apparent to our society in the early 1980s. A reality that our founding fathers would have probably never dreamed of—a dangerous shortage of teachers. Our predecessors may very well have thought that their new American Nation would be a land of high intelligence in both children and adults alike and that there would always be an ample supply of educators. To be a teacher in the early days of this great nation was to hold a position of prestige and importance for the future was in the hands of the teachers. Now, over 200 years later, we are faced with the burden of educating our future. Except for this time, the burden is extremely heavy because of tougher standards, lower pay, and disrespect from students and parents.
To offset the decline of new teachers entering the profession, a new type of certification was devised. If successful, this new concept would help more people become teachers in less time. Unfortunately, this certification was extremely controversial because it was simply shortcutting, which would later give it a bad name. To be proactive, many states devised other routes of teacher certification so that people in specialized fields, in the military, people with a certain skill, and former teachers wanting to get back in the game would be able to do so with relative ease.
This new trend proved to be fast growing. By 1997, 41 states, plus the District of Columbia, report having at least some type of alternative certification program. These states have made up 117 programs (collectively) and some 75,000 new teachers have been birthed as a result to these programs. However, 17 of the states have reported a mild decrease in participation, while 25 states report an increase.
This increase is very promising; especially since the National Center of Education Statistics, as well as many others, states that we will need 2 million more teachers in the next 10 years. The writer tries to clarify these alarming statements by letting the reader know that “new teacher” may mean a variety of things, such as “new to the public state sector,” “new to the country,” “new to a building,” etc.
The simple fact is that teaching is not as glamorous as it once was…neither are the manners of children. In my opinion, the lack of the desire to teach is a part of what I like to call “The American Condition.” The American Condition is a state of being in which individuals are only concerned with two things-making money, and having the best tangible things that money can buy. As a result, and I have said this many times, children’s relationships with their parents suffer. Thus, children try to find “love” and attention elsewhere by showing off, being disruptive, etc. All that is needed is for five out of twenty five to thirty families to be this way, and low and behold, you have at least 5 children per twenty-five who are disruptive. These students often like to drag others down with them. The sad and ancient idea that one group of kids can bring up the good ones is an idea that has been disproved time and time again. I guess that who ever came up with it (and whomever supports it) have forgotten the old “basket of apples” parable. And to make matters worse…very little discipline can be administered and when it is, it is extremely inconsistent.
So now we have a classroom with an increasing number of interruptions, decreasing test scores and increasing standards. Why the increase in standards? Well, remember mom and dad who work all the time, all of a sudden, they care and swoop down upon the poor teacher who is struggling to maintain order in the classroom and accuse him or her of falling down on their job. Plus, the salary that is earned by a teacher isn’t one of luxury…it is barely sustaining in today’s high priced world. Why on earth would anyone put himself or herself through all of that? That is why we saw a large decrease in the number of teachers back in the early 1980s and the kids that grew up (you know, those bad apples) remember how they treated their teachers and they sure aren’t going to become whom they once tormented.
Furthermore, increased standards were placed on the certification of teachers, thus making more difficult to become a teacher. Many gave up in their studies and said that the whole idea wasn’t worth it. As the writer stated, the states stepped in and enacted new programs to help people enter the teaching profession. I believe that these programs are extremely beneficial, not only because we need the teachers, but also because we need good and knowledgeable people to teach our future generations. If carried out correctly, and if short cuts on vital areas are not being made, I feel that the alternative certification programs are legitimate.
- Emily Feistritzer (1998)
Alternative Teacher Certification—An Overview
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