Am watching CBS Sunday Morning and saw something that really disturbed me. Cleveland has got someone running an Academy (small high school), who is neither certified or has education credentials. At least he sees the value of standardized tests. So many people with that background don't.
Now, I am not only certified, but have a Master's in Education -- Cognitive Studies and Computer Education. However, when I first decided I wanted to be a teacher I tried to do it with out the credentials. And I honestly don't think I would have lasted or made it if I had gone the road I wanted to go -- which was emergency certification.
Emergency certification in Texas places someone in the classroom without the education and credentials. I think I would have fallen flat on my face. Though I will admit that that teaching certification didn't do a whole lot for me when it comes to classroom management. I mostly learned what not to do. Teaching dog obedience classes taught me more.
We also have alternative certification where the teaching candidate pays someone, often a district but Region 10 does that too, to get trained to be a teacher. I've not been very impressed with the abilities of those who come in that way -- there are missing a lot of skills and information that I had before the Master's, much less after.
Which also reminds me of a movie I saw this weekend -- which is Freedom Writers. They never explained where she came from -- but man, oh man, was she not prepared those first few days. It also bothered me that the actors were way too old for 9th graders, but beside the point. I was glad to see at the end of the movie that the teacher acknowledged that she didn't know if she could duplicate her success with another group of kids.
Here's the deal: when you teach high school you are influencing lives. If you screw it up, you can screw up someone for life. To this day, there are two teachers I remember the most: one is the idiot who taught Algebra II in Jackson, MS who claimed I couldn't do Computer Science because I couldn't do word problems. The other is the Physics teacher at the same school who held an extreme prejudice against me because I was a Yankee. He also wouldn't induct me into the National Honor Society even through I was in the top 10% of the class. I have viewed NHS with suspicion ever since. Both have added to my academic insecurity.
The whole point of my rant again is to explain why teaching without certification bugs me and while Freedom Writers bugs me.
An successful educator can duplicate their results. Also successful curriculum has to work for every student, not just a few. I think both the principal in Cleveland and the Freedom Writers' teacher have stumbled on a technique that is only going to affect a few. Granted these are a few students that really need help, but if the technique depends on the educator's personality meshing with the personality of the students we're not accomplishing the task. What happens if something happens to the teacher?
Also the Freedom Writer's program was extremely impractical. Who has the time and energy to work two jobs to support the main job, and why should you? At lot of her funding issues should have been taken care of by the school -- books for example, but she had a lot of expenses that just were not practical no matter the neighborhood. I love Randy Pausche's line from his book -- airline attendants give the best advice, put on your oxygen mask before you put on someone else's. That's why I am taking off next Friday, I'm going to take care of myself.