This Thursday, the Coalition of Innovative School Districts presents their plan to the State Board of Education to allow local districts to license their own teachers. While this plan would de-professionalize teaching, their arguments point out some problems with the present system that need to be corrected. Their request for "...complete and total freedom from the overbearing KSDE licensure requirements" details some specific problems with current teacher licensure.
o Hugoton points out that the required coursework to get a teacher licensed may involve "...classes that may not even help the teacher to become a better instructor."
Veteran administrators and teachers know that some education courses have whipsawed from Madelyn Hunter 7-step plans to cooperative learning to QPA local standards to state standardization and now national core. This constantly-changing education curriculum is hard to defend. Nevertheless, there are very necessary courses in tests and measurements, communication practice, discipline-specific skills, and helping special education students that locally-licensed "teachers" would never receive.
o Paperwork is burdensome.
Yes, teachers spend so much time generating documentation proving they are doing good work that it gets in the way of doing good work. "Better teaching through paperwork"—does not work.
o Every superintendent in the state can tell you which Kansas colleges and universities turn out the best teachers and which programs you should avoid. Yet, all Kansas education schools are NCATE/CAEP accredited. That tells you just how meaningless that accreditation is. Just as K-12 schools spend too much time over-documenting their students, teacher trainers in higher education spend too much time gathering numbers to prove they are meeting standards, time taken away from actually overseeing and producing good student teachers.
o University coursework costs too much.
Darn right! But that problem stems from underfunding higher education, pushing too many high school students who are not college-able to attend college and take away state dollars from the college-able, and a higher education system that is now a tuition-driven business. Recruiting and making students happy has become Job One. Academic rigor and quality faculty take a back seat at our State Universities, Inc. Meanwhile, many for-profit online diploma mills turn out meaningless credentials.
o Teacher licensure costs too much.
Right again. A rural teacher with several teaching fields will have to pay nearly a thousand dollars for fingerprinting, endless testing, and other requirements to "buy into" teaching. Yet, we have no evidence that these tests have improved the teacher supply or prevented bad eggs from entering the classroom. Competent university faculty, not tests, are the real gatekeepers.
The Innovative Coalition schools proposal ignores the teacher ed programs in Kansas that do turn out solid teachers. Unbelievably, they disregard the need for teachers to know the content in their field. Claiming that they cannot get qualified teachers to come to rural areas, they ask to hire local unqualified folks and license them locally so they cannot teach elsewhere in the state.
In the history of medicine, there were times when doctors conducted leeching and other ineffective practices. But the medical profession solved those problems. We did not abandon the profession and let anyone be a doctor.
Bottomline: For the sake of our future children, teaching must remain a profession. Our most important profession!