I'm tired of going to school.
I don't mean the elementary school where I work. I actually like that.
When I entered the classroom I was told that the state appreciated me having an undergraduate degree already (B.A. in Psychology, 1983) and that it was especially nice that I even already had an M.S. (Adult & Technical Education, a non-certification degree designed to further my career at the college level, 2003) . They thought that my 18-hour graduate diploma in linguistics was interesting but told me that the Australian National University wasn't accredited in America, and that they couldn't do anything with those hours and it didn't really matter whether the ANU had produced Nobel Laureates, they weren't accredited. So with 54 graduate hours already to my credit, I went back to school. Night school. Summer school. The school of inconvenience....
I learned stuff. It was good for a time.
It was also two grand a class because I live out of state and West Virginia won't give me a break on tuition just for teaching their kids. In three years I spent $30K to keep my license.
If you know what HQT stands for, you can probably guess part of where I'm going. I'm not, technically a highly qualified teacher. With three degrees to my credit, I had to send home a note with a third grader this year explaining to the child's parents that I'm not actually qualified to teach him math or reading despite my eleven or so years of college.
One of the things that most ticked me off about going to school myself was that there seems to be a plan in place to prevent teachers from going past the masters degree level. I can take classes that count toward a certification (for $2,000 a pop) or I can take classes that lead to an Ed.S. (for $2,000 a pop). But not both.
There was a time in my life when I actually wanted to be Dr. Cruey. The material in this piece pretty much put me off that for good.
At some point I started asking why I had to keep going to school. I have 108 graduate hours and a GPA better than 3.8. Can't I, like, take a test or go to a workshop? Especially since I'm not pursuing any academic credentials?
I was pleased recently to discover that the answer is "yes." I recently discovered a state where, if you already have a license in something, you can add other certifications based on a test alone. I've passed the test there for a PreK-5 certification, for a middle school math certification, and for some increased special education credentials. In March I go take the test for reading certification.
I don't understand why there isn't a national program to access what an educator knows and could be allowed to teach. If I've passed the Praxis test for the Principles of Learning and Teaching, and I've worked in the classroom, and I've had positive evaluations, and I can pass a test on middle school math, why shouldn't I be allowed to teach math without taking 21 graduate hours of math? The cynics among us at the classroom level sometimes argue that it's because the colleges would go broke if such a system was in place.
In the face of a teacher shortage in specific essential areas, eventually there will just have to be a better system for licensing teachers. And academic credentials will have to be separated from professional ones.
Greg Cruey, Guest Blogger