Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Here's a thought problem answer from an 8 year old. It says: "Marty's pizza was bigger." The teacher marked it wrong, claiming that answer is impossible. But is it?

No, of course not. The child's answer is perfectly reasonable. But you have to wonder about the teacher. After all, it's surprisingly easy to become licensed to teach. In most states aspiring educators must only prove they can pee a hole in snow. Okay, it's not quite that bad. But the present situation does require hyperbole because becoming a certified teacher is so very easy compared to being licensed to do other important things. 

Take, for example, caring for people's feet. To gain admission to a college of podiatry, would-be foot doctors must meet stringent entrance requirements similar to those required by general medical schools. This includes at least three years of rigorous pre-med study at an accredited college or university, plus a satisfactory score on the medical college admissions test. Then, should they win acceptance to a school of podiatry, they must take two years of demanding graduate level instruction in: courses like anatomy, biochemistry, biomechanics, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. That's followed by two years of clinical training. Only those who successfully complete all of this, actually earn the degree Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. And the majority continue their training for from one to four more years in teaching hospital residency programs.

How about qualifying to teach? First there is no professional school requirement. In fact, there are no professional schools for educating teachers. Candidates must merely have a high school diploma and gain admission to one of the hundreds of colleges and universities offering this profitable, for the college, preparation. Once admitted would-be teachers typically automatically become part of the teacher preparation program. Once in it, these aspirants must pass a number of undergraduate courses in education, often quite undemanding, plus a semester of student teaching under the supervision of a "master" teacher whose primary qualification is willingness. Then, if they pass a couple of required standardized tests that vary from state to state, "BINGO!" they're licensed to teach. 

Sound too tough? Well, thanks to state legislators, there are even easier ways to become a teacher. Euphemistically labeled "alternative routes" to certification, they take even less effort and commitment. Why in the world make teacher prep even easier? Because state legislators want to secure a steady supply of inexpensive and even more compliant cannon fodder for state classrooms.

What shall we make of the striking contrast between foot doctor and teacher preparation? Does it exist because there is less to know about human growth and development; about subject matter, about teaching and learning, than there is to know about bunions, plantar fasciitis, in-grown toenails, etc.? Is it because an incompetent podiatrist can do more damage than an incompetent teacher? Or does this difference exists because if you raise teacher prep standards, you also have to raise the pay and benefits for being a teacher and grant teachers more autonomy and respect. And in this day of meddling, politically ambitious governors, a substantial number of Trump cult parents and a coterie of half educated state legislators, is that going to happen? 

See ”Teach for America" at Teach for America 

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