Friday, January 23, 2015

An Open Letter to my State's Governor

I found something out today that I cannot get out of my head.  I found out that you will be proposing another track of teacher licensing.  In your proposal a person with "real-life experience" (no clue what you mean by that) can take an exam, pass it and *POOF* have their teaching license.

Let me set the record straight that I have voted for you every single time you have come up on the ballot.  I know that I am in a VERY small percentage of teachers who have done so.  I know many in our state criticize you for what you've done to education.  I will say that I don't think it's your strong suit, but there are other things that I greatly agree with you on, so I've supported you.  I even supported you when you required teachers to chip in a bit for benefits.  How you went about it wasn't the best, but considering our benefits are amazing compared to the private sector, I was okay with chipping in a bit for said benefits. 

But this is a new low.  This is offensive to me.  This is a slap in the face.  Your proposal proves to me that you have ZERO idea what it takes to be a good educator.  Of course subject matter knowledge is important as a teacher.  But guess what.  Of the ten teaching standards of our state, only ONE addresses subject matter knowledge.  The other nine are learned through a combination of teacher education training and teaching experience.  There are a couple of those nine that can also be partly learned in life, but I can tell you not everyone possesses those skills.

Your proposal belittles my education and my experience.  When I went to college to be a French teacher, I not only had to major in French, but I had to go through the education classes as well.  I took classes that taught me how to meet the other nine teaching standards.  One specific class was so crucial to my education that it was specifically geared toward aspiring foreign language teachers.  It also makes no mention of student teaching.  That semester taught me more than the other 3 1/2 years of college.  I know I speak for every teacher when I say I was nowhere near ready to teach on my own the first day of student teaching.  Student teaching is a crucial part of the teacher education process.

Teaching ability is a gift.  I will not pretend that everyone who goes through the education program will be an awesome teacher and I will not pretend that nobody can be a good teacher without going through the education program.  Some just have it and some just don't.  But I am not comfortable with the future of our state or even our nation to be put into the hands of someone who cannot tell me what an IEP is and why it's so important.  I am not comfortable with someone teaching our youth who has zero grasp of the different socioeconomic and behavioral factors that can make or break a student's ability or desire to learn.  I know many people who could even be considered experts in their field that would drown in today's classrooms.

Please do not move forward with your proposal.  I implore you.  Education is the most important tool we can give students and you are cheating them by letting anyone just pass a simple content test in order to teach.  There is already so little respect toward teachers as it is.  Please don't add more disrespect by making it even easier to get a teaching license.  We should be investing in finding the very best teachers, not handing out a license to just anyone.  Teaching IS and should be considered an elite, distinguished and respected profession.

A teacher who easily has another 35 years before retirement, therefore another 35 years to make one heck of a difference in this world.

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