In a commentary piece in The Christian Science Monitor, Justin Martin argues that one of the major problems with the public education system is that “states often make it unconscionably difficult for qualified teachers to work.”
He cites his wife as an example, an experienced private school teacher with a master’s degree in education and several years of conducting education research under her belt. Martin’s wife, however, could not secure a job in a Maine public school because she did not take the required undergraduate courses or obtain public school certification in another state. She would need to pay for an undergraduate English course for initial certification, the department of education told her, and then “take no fewer than five additional college courses, five standardized tests, and complete a year of supervised ‘student’ teaching” to become fully certified.
In the end, Martin’s wife accepted a job offer at another private school. According to Martin, talented, aspiring teachers are often driven away from the public school system as a result of these bureaucratic restrictions.
Rigid standards are fine as long as state officials have broad authority to use common sense and wave requirements for exceptionally trained applicants. Red tape will always exist, but it doesn't have to bind and gag talented professionals eager to serve as teachers.
Even alternate certification programs, which are supposed to help talented teaching candidates land jobs in the classroom, often come with their own set of bureaucratic standards that demand a lot of time and money upfront from would-be teachers, says Martin.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.