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Getting Schooled
Labor Shortages Leading Schools to Drop Teacher Certification

There is a nationwide shortage of “qualified” candidates for teaching positions, reports the New York Times:

Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education—a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers.

But what’s really interesting is what some schools are doing about this. The Times mentions that some schools in California are “hiring college students and teaching interns to full-time spots before they’ve completed the certification process.”

We suspect the Times wants us to wring our hands over this, but we’re not. In fact, there may be a significant upside to the end of certification requirements. Teacher licensing requirements typically have nothing to do with student outcomes and mainly serve as bureaucratic hoops to protect members of the guild. If the shortages lead to fewer hurdles for the young and the energetic to become teachers—even if they only see it as a way station rather than a final destination for their careers—so much the better.


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  • FriendlyGoat

    Totally agree. We need to minimize the hurdles for “natural” teachers to get into classrooms. We also need to realize, though, that high school math and science teachers actually do need to know math and science before we turn them loose there. The certification process, unfortunately, delves into other things of less import—-which is why we criticize it.

  • Boritz

    And how many who approach teaching as a way station will decide they have found their career when they might never have tried their hand at it under the old regs.

  • Andrew Allison

    “. . . an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.” has staggering implications. Was Shaw right that “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”, or is the profession simply unattractive; and if the latter, why?

    • Tom

      Probably a combination of both, as per usual.

    • JR

      I think the fact this is a union-dominated profession has something to do with it. Imagine you are a young go-getter. Why the hell would you want to go into profession where seniority rules everything?

      • FriendlyGoat

        Because students, parents, administrators, snitty co-workers, Boards, bureaucracies, governors, and the rule of “it’s the little things that get ya” will very possibly beat you down to dust if you cannot maintain some standards for how you will or will not be abused. That’s where unions come from. Seniority comes from union members respecting each other through the one thing which can always be measured without empirical argument. Seniority is not a great concept, but it is not a reason for any sensible person volunteering to be devoured by a wolf pack of other problems for teachers.

        • Tate Metlen

          So. … how do every other industry NOT protected by an Union manage survive? Like private schools?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I have been speaking in terms of the emotional and economic survival of the teachers, not the schools themselves.
            Private schools survive by 1) accepting and retaining certain students and under certain on-going conditions which are not the same as the obligation of public schools to take and retain virtually all students, 2) by charging whatever tuition is necessary and getting high-end customers to pay it, or by getting help, in the case of religious schools, from sponsoring churches, or help from teachers who will teach in religious schools for a lot less money because they WANT to do the work cheaper as a form of personal ministry and who also wish to teach a certain world view in the more selective environment.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You really need to take a look at the history of Catholic schools, just as an example. They charge practically nothing, and took everyone (in fact they often took the worst students), yet still got excellent results. The notion that private schools ‘cherry-pick’ their student is an old myth perpetrated by the union-dominated public schools. You might have a better argument regarding charter schools, as they are typically far more selective.
            An interesting thought though….since MOST (not all) of the problem with selectivity has to do with poorly behaved students (yes, there are issues with other special needs students, but these pale in comparison with the behaviorial cases), perhaps dealing a bit more harshly with them might not be a bad idea? After all, the schools cannot be held responsible for the failings of the parents…

          • FriendlyGoat

            The Catholic High School in the metro area nearest me lists tuition of about $11,500 per student for registered parishioners and $12,500 for others.
            Yes, there are some financial aid programs and scholarships for SOME students, but the school would not be there if a lot of people were not paying A LOT of money. It’s not “practically nothing”.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Most of the Catholic schools that provided the sort of services I have referred to were long ago drive away by the education establishment. The survivors are more often than no ’boutique’ schools that are indeed emblematic of the sort of elitism you are referring to.
            Though with that in mind, a tuition of $12,500 for non-parishoners isn’t all that bad….ever see what the normal spending level per pupil is for public schools?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Actually a lot of this is due to the ‘education mafia’ that controls teacher certification. Go take a look at who runs most education departments in universities (universally regarded as the dumping grounds for the worst and stupidest) and you see where the problem is. As bad as the unions are, they aren’t the worst part of the problem with teaching in the US.

  • Josephbleau

    Perhaps if things get so dire, we will revert to ancient discarded methods such as having local “Academe” where great men take students under instruction and apply dialogue in advanced thought for a fee for the improvement of humanity. (Steve Martin) Nawww!

  • Ann in L.A.

    There are studies out there that show little correlation between ed school attendance (at BA, MA, or PhD levels) and actual teaching ability. It’s more like a hoop the education guild wants teachers to jump through before becoming a member of the club.

    >> Teachers’ education (degree) and experience levels are probably the most widely studied teacher attributes, both because they are easy to measure and because they are, in the vast majority of school systems, the sole determinants of teachers’ salaries. However, there appears to be only weak evidence that these characteristics consistently and positively influence student learning. In a 1986 literature review (and in follow-up reviews in 1989 and 1997) that has framed much of the debate, Hoover Institution senior fellow Eric Hanushek showed that only a small proportion of studies find these teacher characteristics to be statistically significant in the expected direction.<<

  • mdmusterstone

    Education classes are an outrageous waste of time but at
    least they’re expensive. LOL Ask any
    education department instructor what three things are taught in ed classes that
    an intelligent person wouldn’t know or puzzle out by themselves PDQ. They’ll be flummoxed. Then ask them if they can name one…

    A ‘master teacher’ in LA came by my class one time. Her advice?
    Don’t use such bright colors in the classroom, it excites the

    Read this, it says it all.

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