Chanting Points Memo: “Uncertified” Teachers

 If you’ve read anything about education in the past 20 years, you’ve heard that the school systems are crushingly short of science and math teachers.

If you’ve had kids in the public school system, you’ll know that the system is even shorter of good math, science and technology teachers. 

It’s not a wonder, of course; people with degrees in math, hard science and technology have a lot of opporunities in the private sector, right out of school.  And as a career wends its way, the disparity gets starker; while a career in science or technology offers boundless opportunity for advancement and even entrepreneurship, a career in public education offers decades of unionized, union-style plodding up a public service pay scale, in a system where no matter how hard you work or how good you are, you will always have less money, seniority or recognition than some ticket puncher who gave up on teaching a decade ago, but is five years away from her pension.

But for all that, there are people, especially people in Math and Science, who spend a decade or two in the field and want a change of pace, or develop an altruistic streak, or become alarmed at the lack of math and science preparation they’re seeing in their own school-age kids; people with ample skills, the real world experience that impresses smart kids, and enough zeal for educating kids that they opt to leave a well-paid field in mid-career to teach! 

And it’s with an aim toward alleviating that shortage that the Emmer Campaign is pushing alternative licensure – to allow these highly motivated people, the ones that have the chops to convince a school board to hire them, to get into the classroom without having to repeat two years of college to get a state license…

…that in the end ensures nothing about a teacher’s competence, but shows that they’ve sat through classes on pedagogy and child psychology.

But to listen to the left’s chanting points industry, you’d think what Emmer and the conservatives mean by “alternative licensing” is bringing in unqualified teachers from Guatemala and putting them in the classroom.

This particular chanting point is such a gross torture of context that it qualifies as an outright lie. It actively disinforms the public.

Remember – every single  burned-out teacher currently punching their ticket in a Minnesota school until retirement is “certified”.  The state’s minority achievement gap – which, in the Metro, is among the worst in the nation – was accomplished by “certified” teachers.  But our math and science classes remain catastrophically short of qualified instructors.

What is more important – maintaining a bureaucratic status quo, or getting our state’s kids the education they need?

To Education Minnesota and the DFL, the answer is painfully obvious.

33 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: “Uncertified” Teachers

  1. Oh sure! G*d forbid we have “unlicensed” teachers. But lets allow assistants drill teeth! Money (somebody else’s money that is) and electability are the only priority for bureaucrats.

  2. Hang down your head, Tom Dooher. I’m sure he’ll find a solution to this problem, though — maybe he can make school districts closed shops or something.

  3. Having alternative licensure is great, but the lesson my brother personally learned in California is that not going through a college of education is a great way to paint a target on your back. The key is to disempower the teachers’ union, not just to allow highly qualified people to teach.

  4. Are these not the same folks who want to keep the Rubber Rooms? (Maybe not.)

    Are these not the same folks who don’t care about the border?

    Are these not the same folks who loathe GW’s administration for his BusHitler tactics and actions when it comes to battling al-Qaeda, but looove TheOneWhoWon and his “nuanced” handling of Gitmo, Afghanistan, and Iraq… not to mention his stern school marm act on Britain and Israel?

    Are these people not the problem?

  5. I am first in line for a fast track license. I have almost 20 years in the district, and a BS in Finance. I simply did not have the time w/raising kids or the money, with rising tuition costs, to put in another 2 years once I made the decision to peruse a career outside of my degree field. But if this goes through, I am all over it


  6. That is certainly a selfish reason why flush is supporting it.

    Too bad your decision for Governor has already been made for you, flush.

  7. BS in Finance

    Fleshy, I can’t believe you did that! Its’ like being the only fish in a proverbial barrel yelling for people bearing howitzers to take their best shot.

    At least I always remember to add “c” to my degree.

  8. “In keeping Americans ill-educated, ill-informed and constitutionally ignorant, the education establishment has been the politician’s major and most faithful partner. It is in this sense that American education can be deemed a success.”
    – Walter Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University (2005)

  9. The part I love from the opponents of this change is the comparison made between teachers and doctors. Statements like “you would not want a doctor who has only 200 hours of training”. They say this like they have the smarts to be doctors. I train middle and high school teachers to use the product I sell, they are the worst students, attention spans of a gnat, rude, unwilling to learn or want to learn just enough to fake it for the students. I have had many discussions with the students that use my tools and it is almost universal the teachers are stupid in the opinion of the kids.

  10. Mitch,
    Having done a library section for Intellectual Takeout on this very topic, I’d have to say that you are exactly right. A “certified” teacher doesn’t necessarily make a competent teacher, for in the words of Kate Walsh, “teachers generally score about 40 to 70 points lower on their college entrance exams than do college graduates who choose other professions. Teachers who did not prepare in college for teaching careers, but who chose to teach anyway, were more likely to have scored in the top quartile of their entering college class than were those teachers who were prepared in college to teach.”
    The fact is, many ed. schools are often too busy training their teachers to advance social justice in the classroom, and thus they neglect to train ed. students in basic academic subjects. Alternative certification could be highly beneficial in actually getting our schools to focus on teaching facts rather than teaching political ideologies.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this issue.

  11. I’d like to see some schools try this out, and see if there is any improvement.

    unionized, union-style plodding up a public service pay scale,

    I thought public sector jobs were all gravy trains.

    Too bad your decision for Governor has already been made for you

    Yours hasn’t?

  12. Today’s certification process serves the union first, not the students.

    And if the DFL is so worried about competence, explain why they again endorsed Ritchie, Swanson, and Otto.

  13. I thought public sector jobs were all gravy trains.

    My dad, two grandparents and my sister have all been teachers, but I’ll defer to your expertise.

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  15. I thought public sector jobs were all gravy trains.
    Try the private sector sometime, Disco. Employment at will ain’t for the faint of heart.
    In my small state, teachers have been arrested and convicted for selling drugs and molesting children. All were union, all were certified by UH school of education.

  16. question people who would you rather face in the general, MAK or Dayton? I vote Dayton just because everyone already knows he’s a boob but even Rasumussen Reports insane poll in march had Emmer beating MAK by 3 and losing to Dayton by 3. Or should we just ignore those numbers since they mean almost nothing?

  17. “Yours hasn’t?”

    Stool, the motley crew that the DFL has fielded has made my decision easy. Emmer’s endorsement cemented my decision.


    Ben, be careful, I remember a co-worker saying vote for Dayton in the senate primary years ago because he would never get elected in the general election no matter what he spent…

  18. Hey guys, cut Flash some slack.

    If he’s actually made a living in the industry and is willing to share those insights with students, he’s a goldmine of information that a plain classroom teacher doesn’t have. That’s better for the students, which is the focus of this discussion, right?

    I always learned more from adjunct professors – those who taught on the side while working their real jobs – than from professional classroom lecturers or teaching assistants. Having someone leave the field to teach about it full time would be better than a guy who once read a book about it.

    Of course Flash expects to be paid for his work. And it might even be better pay than he makes now with the financial industry in smoking ruins. Why not, working your way up is part of the American Dream.

    Go for it, Flash. Best of luck to you.

  19. Mitch, the rank and file is not in as much in a tizzy as Union Leadership, is.

    And Nate, to be clear, I left the Financial industry a long time ago when there were similar problems as there are today, think Mid 1980’s. I entered the IT community and have been in the School district already for almost 20 years. Certainly, I have done Summer temp work within the financial industry, mostly as technical support with companies like IDS, Wells Fargo, Northwest Mortgage and even a stint with Hubbard Broadcasting.

    So, I had at what point, ever so briefly, made a living in the Finance Industry, but I raised my kids and spent the majority of my employment career within the School District already. I feel I bring the best of both worlds, classroom experience, Finance degree, and life experiences that would be very beneficial to my students.

    Just wanted to make sure there was no confusion.


  20. My son’s favorite teacher is a LEGAL immigrant from the middle east; got his degree in Physics (only physics teacher in st paul who actually majored in it, if I’m not mistaken), also advanced degrees, worked in the real world for awhile (20 years) and decided to teach. Knocked off the credentialing in ONE SUMMER, which shows you what can be done when necessary. Now teaches all levels of Physics. Comes in on Saturday mornings, on his own time, to tutor kids in not only Physics, but whatever they may need help in, Calc, etc.
    The kids know he’s there for them, he can relay to them what it is like to actually work in the field they’re studying, as he had done it. Also, when a person decides to teach after they’ve matured and lived a life the real world, I trust them much more than an 18 year old fresh out of high school choosing it with no clue what’s involved or if they’re even any good.
    Give me an alternatively credentialled teacher who is an expert in a field any day over a book-learned spewer of theory.

  21. Oh, and my son is seriously considering the same track: earn a degree, use it to build a career and use his skills later to teach high school kids. It may not be physics, it could be computer programming or math, or even economics, but he’s been inspired by this one teacher.

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