I recently drove through a state experiencing a kerfluffle with secondary education (I should avoid newspapers more carefully). This state has a rule that a teacher must pass basic tests in order to be employed as a teacher. It sounded like a test for basic college level literacy and possibly a little bit of math. It was not a detailed subject matter test. I’d happily take a test like that any day of the year. How hard can literacy be? Who wants an illiterate teacher? Everyone seemed to agree the bar of this particular test was set low.
There have been exceptions to the rule; a prospective teacher that failed the test could teach “provisionally” for a few months. Say what? Is this allowed in other parts of life? Can a truck driver fire up a Kenworth without a license. Shall he explain to the State Trooper that he earnestly plans to pass the driver’s test sometime soon? Can I watch? One can’t be a “provisional” veterinarian, electrician, accountant, or surgeon. Hell no!
The state (quite reasonably in my opinion) changed the law to “you must pass before you can teach”. Makes sense to me. Everyone else gets their ducks in a row before they get a job.
The change means some folks who’ve been skating on the exemption will have to either make the grade or get a different job. Cue the whining. Sources in the article estimated 400 individuals statewide who have been “teaching” provisionally will be SOL. This was presented as a big problem.
My response is simple. “It is not a problem. It is a feature.”
Why mourn their loss? These are the losers were talking about. Learning is important. It’s good when those who failed are sifted out.
I frame it optimistically. They had to level up sooner or later. They’ll either get it done asap or they were a waste of time and money (at best) and should be cut from the rolls before we send good money after bad. Win, win! I wish them luck in the test and if they fail I hope they like whatever alternative career they choose.
The article quoted a couple school administrators whining that they’ll lose too many “teachers”. Wrong! They won’t lose “teachers” they’ll lose “failed prospective teachers who didn’t make the cut”.
Time for a Curmudgeonly Gem Of Insight:
“A bad teacher can do more harm than good.”
Kids won’t learn from bad teachers and there’s no point in encouraging the incompetent to show up and draw a check. Innocent children are too important be used as placeholders.
Administrators who think that any teacher is worth preserving have lost perspective. A bad teacher is a net loss. I don’t want kids faced with semi-literate teachers any more than I want them exposed to unskilled doctors or incompetent police. Kids are important!
Kids are not meal tickets. They shouldn’t be fed upon by the semi-illiterate or administrators who harbor them. The State was right to say “pass the test or get out”; it’s a sign of reasonableness and honor. I’d like to see more actions like it and I applaud their efforts.