Recognizing that teachers are the most important in-school factor responsible for student learning, 33 states have rightly passed laws making it harder to become licensed. The one exception is Texas, which is the only state allowing for-profit companies not affiliated with higher education institutions to offer teaching certificates (“Efforts to Raise Teacher Certification Standards Falter,” The Texas Tribune, Aug. 22).
For an investment of $4,000 and from three months to two years, those who want to teach in a public school in Texas can achieve their goal. So far, almost one in four of the state’s new teachers have entered the classroom via this route.
This approach makes a mockery of everything that teaching aspires to be. If only 13 percent of education colleges are top- ranked, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality, how in the world can Texas expect to produce teachers who are prepared to teach if it permits independent, for-profit institutions to grant licenses? In my opinion, the certificates are meaningless because they cannot possibly provide their holders with the skills and knowledge they need to be effective.
Yet as the older generation of teachers retires, pressure will build to replace them. Where will these new teachers come from? There will always be a small percentage of career switchers. But the vast majority will be new college graduates. No matter how bright they are, they will be in no position to step right into a public-school classroom. The realities of the job have changed dramatically since I retired. As a result, Texas is setting up the teachers it certifies to most assuredly fail.
This will lead to further teacher turnover at a time when faculty stability is essential. But that seems to be the farthest thing on the minds of Texas legislators.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.