Letters to the Editor
David Dibble Oakland, Calif.
Arthur E. Wise ("States Must Create Teaching-Standards Boards," Commentary, Jan. 11, 1989) makes some important points on the need for teaching-standards boards.
He notes the problem of "emergency" certificates: This weakness in the present system of licensing amounts to a scandal.
It is estimated that 15 percent of the teachers in California public schools are teaching with emergency credentials.
The state has high standards for regular credentials: A bachelor's degree in an academic area and a year of graduate work with successful, supervised student teaching are mandated for a preliminary credential.
More study and experience are required for a "clear" credential, and life credentials are no longer issued.
Since the average teacher has 22 years' experience, changes in standards for entrance will not affect the status of most teachers for many years.
But for emergency credentials, there are no standards other than a bachelor's degree and a passing grade on a simple mathematics and English test.
The teachers' unions are not taking a stand against the use of emergency credentials because they have thousands of "emergency" teachers as regular, dues-paying members.
And some principals and administrators may like the economy and flexibility involved in employing staff members who do not have the tenure and the power of professional teachers.
Parents, students, faculty members, and the public often do not know what credentials an individual teacher holds, and they do not ask.
A professional organization or a strong body of expert opinion is needed to remedy the problem of emergency credentials.
I wholly support Arthur E. Wise's Commentary.
Amie Weinberg Heath Fort Ord, Calif.
As I see it, credentialing through such boards would bring about three positive changes.
The first transformation would be to ensure not only that teachers know the subject matter but also that they are familiar with various teaching methods.
While I graduated from a four-year college, I had taken only five courses to receive my teaching certificate. Although confident of my abilities, I felt unprepared for my first year of teaching, since my courses had only skimmed the surface of teaching.
The second implication would be to raise the status of teaching as a profession.
Third, credentialing boards would regulate and standardize requirements from state to state. This would make it easier for teachers to move throughout the country without the time and money constraints of recertification.
Certifying teachers through such boards would improve the quality of teachers. And the profession would gain respect that is long overdue.