I recently, by God’s miraculous provision and grace, was hired as the third and fourth grade teacher at Covenant Classical Academy. I’d been applying for teaching positions at private schools since the spring — private schools were the only option for me because I didn’t get an education degree in college and I’m not certified to teach in Kentucky.
State certification is a pretty arduous process. Education degrees can be pretty tiresome, too, which is why I dropped mine in favor of English. I don’t regret it for a second. I don’t think having an education degree or a teaching certificate would make me one iota more qualified for the job I’ve got. Letters and certificates don’t make good teachers; teachers are born, and great teachers are shaped through the blood, sweat, and tears they shed in the classroom.
Turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. Anthony Lombardi, the NYC public school principal whose heavy-handed methods rankled many teachers but turned around the once-dismal performer P.S. 48, seems to think that our entire system of certification allows too many mediocre teachers to keep floundering away at the blackboard while their students languish, all because they have union protection from the first day on the job. He sees child development classes at college and intense, subject-specific board tests as a waste of time — straight A’s in your Ed classes and high marks on your practicum simply do not translate to excellence as an educator.
So what’s the solution? Lombardi says it’s time to junk certification tests, forget about looking for education degrees on resumes, and implement the millenia-old method of preparing a greenhorn for a man’s work: apprenticeship. According to Ray Fisman, writing for Slate.com, “new recruits would have a couple of years of in-school training. There would then come a day of reckoning, when teachers-to-be would face a serious evaluation before securing union membership and a job for life.”