Education Courses Waived for TeachersIn New York City
The New York City Board of Education has voted to drop its requirement that new teachers successfully complete education courses before they begin teaching.
It will also encourage graduate students enrolled at colleges and universities in the city, especially those studying mathematics or the sciences, to teach in the city's schools part time, according to Edward P. Aquilone, director of the school system's division of personnel. Those teachers will also be exempted from fulfilling education-course requirements before they begin teaching.
Under the new regulation, new teachers will no longer be required to earn six credits in education before they can teach in the city. Instead, they will be allowed to complete those credits within 12 months of being hired. Mr. Aquilone said the moves, while intended to address an expected shortage of teachers in the coming school year, also represent an attempt by the nation's largest school system to attract liberal-arts graduates into teaching.
"There is still very strong support within the school system for education schools, but there needs to be a happier marriage on that issue," Mr. Aquilone said. "There is substance to the criticism that we are not getting the best college graduates into teaching."
"It seems to me," he said, "that by opening up the profession to liberal-arts graduates, we are going to improve the quality of people coming into it."
"I really don't know what the result of this move will be," he said, "but based on the calls we've had so far, I think it will be substantial. I would love to see the liberal-arts types do well."
This is first time that the board of education has permitted teachers to work before earning at least six credits in education.
Mr. Aquilone said the board plans to do an extensive evaluation of the teachers hired under the new system and, if the teachers prove to be effective in the classroom, the school system may "look to something be-yond" lifting the requirement for new teachers, including reducing or eliminating the requirement that teachers take education courses in order to earn tenure. "We are taking a look-see attitude," he said.
The New Jersey Department of Education is also moving forward with a plan to drop education courses as a requirement for a permanent teaching license and tenure.
Mr. Aquilone said that in the summer before they begin teaching, new teachers would be enrolled in workshops covering teaching methods; once the school year begins, they will participate in special staff-development programs.
The other requirements for new teachers were not changed by the board. New teachers must hold a bachelor's degree with a concentration of 36 credits in their major. They must also pass an examination in their subject and be interviewed by a two-person panel. Both the exam and the interview are conducted by an independent board of examiners.
Nor were the requirements for a permanent teaching license and tenure altered by the board. They include a bachelor's degree, three years of teaching experience, 24 credits in education, and successful completion of a two-part exam and an interview, also conducted by the board of examiners.
Mr. Aquilone said the 900,000-student school system will need an estimated 3,500 new teachers by September. New York City employs some 57,000 teachers in 1,000 schools.
There are several reasons for the city's shortage of teachers, Mr. Aquilone said, including the new all-day kindergarten classes that began last fall, a program to cut class size in first grade, a general increase in elementary-school enrollments, and attrition among teachers who have left teaching rather than transfer to other schools in the city under a federal desegregation order.
Demand for teachers, he said, has also risen as a result of the need for smaller classes for a growing number of special-education students and others in special programs for students having difficulty meeting the school system's tougher new promotion policy.
"We are getting a negative response [to the board's new regulation] from local eduation schools," Mr. Aquilone said. "But I expected it."
The school system is planning to take out advertisements in newspapers in the city announcing its new regulations, Mr. Aquilone said.