Archives for category: Alternate Route To Certification

A reader sent the following commentary on reformers’ efforts to lower standards for educators and to welcome people without professional preparation and credentials to teach in and administer the nation’s public schools and charter schools. His response was prompted by a post about teachers in Arizona with online degrees. He writes:

“Arizona teacher: “I have seen staffs comprised of high school graduate teachers who bought their degrees online and took not one college level course.”

To the Arizona teacher… destroying the profession of teaching and filling it with unqualified faux teachers is not a bug in the privatizers’ “reform” model, it is a feature.

I just found this from the Connecticut Policy Institute—a “think tank” and “a non-partisan research institute on Connecticut economic policy and education reform” that fronts for for-profit business interests that are trying to profit from the privatization of education. To do this, they put out bogus “studies” and “policy papers” in support of these business interests’ practices and approaches to privatized education:

In this op-ed, Ben Zimmer defends Vallas’ lack of credentialing, but goes one further.

Not only should there be no credential requirement for Superintendents, THERE SHOULD BE NO CREDENTIALING OR EDUCATION REQUIREMENT OF TEACHERS (???!!!) as well as ADMINISTRATORS.

Ben Zimmer: “With a few exceptions, Connecticut law requires teachers to have a degree in education, meaning many talented people who didn’t decide to become teachers until after completing their educations have difficulty doing so.

“This serves the economic interests of existing teachers and administrators by limiting competition for their jobs, but does not advance the goal of obtaining the highest quality teaching and administration possible.”

Don’t you get it? If the government entity in charge of education requires thing like ohhh… bachelor’s degrees, or even 2-year community college associate degrees… or even one single college course… well, you’re just “serving the economic interest of existing teachers and administrators by limiting competition for their jobs.”

Those teachers who’ve actually achieved these “worthless degrees” will bring along with them accompanying demands for a decent salary, health benefits, retirement, etc…. AND WHO NEEDS THAT when you’re trying to make a profit… err… excuse me… make “transformational change” in education?

Oh, you don’t believe this? Well, Connecticut Policy Institute’s “studies and papers” have “proven” all of this to be true… that you need nothing more than a high school diploma to teach in K-12 schools.

Zimmer goes on:

Ben Zimmer: “As the Connecticut Policy Institute has discussed in our papers on education reform, there is no evidence linking certification regimes to teachers’ or administrators’ effectiveness in increasing student achievement. They simply serve to limit the recruitment pipeline of outstanding educators and keep the antiquated education administration departments of the state university system in business.”

An organization fronting for business interests that want to profit from the privatization of education—some of them charter school chain CEO”s making $500,000/year or more (Geoffrey Canada)—has its spokesman attacking education departments—some of them Ivy League universities… most of them having turning out quality teachers for 100-150 years or more—as only being “in business” to advance the selfish financial interests of their administrators and professors that work in them. They are deliberately blocking “outstanding educators” from entering the field because they are out for themselves, and not the students’.

Wow! I”m so glad someone’s finally blowing the lid off this!

But then look at this assclown Zimmer’s bio at Connecticut Policy Institute:

He proudly touts his own education credentials:

“Ben received a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he specialized in business law and economic policy, and a B.A., magna cum laude with highest honors in history, from Harvard College.”

But Ben, I thought those high-falutin’ things like degrees didn’t matter. Aren’t those “J.D.’s” and “B.A.s” and “magna cum laude’s” just worthless pieces of paper spit out by “antiquated” entities that are only trying to keep themselves “in business” to pay the undeserved salaries of the folks who work in them?

No, no, no… you see in Ben’s world, rigid requirements like… oh… years of post-secondary education, or even passing a certification test…. those things only matter in OTHER careers or professions. They don’t matter in the realm of K-12 education… as his noble “kids first” organization, Connecticut Policy Institute, has produced studies and papers” have “proven” that.

No, according to Ben, teaching is like working the fry machine at McDonald’s… just let anyone in the door—education and credentials be damned—to have at it and compete for the job, then just keep the ones who do it best. And THAT is how you end up with a staff of what Ben describes as a nation of “outstanding educators.”

Got that?

You see the way to get better teachers in front of kids is just simple… so simple that those antiquated ed departments full of money-motivated hacks have been missing it for over 150 years.

The way to fill our country’s schools with “outstanding educators” is to lower or even eliminate the standards and requirements for becoming one.

That’s it!!!! Why hasn’t anyone thought of that until now?

What’s that, you say? The highest achieving nations like Finland and South Korea don’t operate that way? In those countries, becoming a teacher is as difficult and demanding as becoming a doctor?

Well, that would never work here in the United States.

You think it can’t happen here?

You think your state is immune?

Read about the war on public education in Texas and think again.

Some part of this radical agenda is being promoted in almost every state.

Yours too.

This comment was written by Bonnie Lesley of “Texas Kids Can’t Wait”:

“I worry a lot whether public schools will continue to exist in some states. Our organization, Texas Kids Cant Wait, has felt overwhelmed at times this legislative session about the sheer number of privatization bills, all either sponsored by Sen. Dan Patrick or by someone close to him. We have been battling a big charter (what is in reality the gateway drug to privatization) expansion bill, a parent-trigger bill, opportunity scholarships, taxpayer savings grants, achievement district, “FamiliesFirstSchools”, home-rule districts, vouchers for kids with disabilities, online course expansion, numerous bills to close public schools and turn them over to private charter companies, and on and on. A friend said it is as if they threw a whole bowl full of spaghetti at the wall, believing something would stick.

Every one of the ALEC bills we have seen introduced in other states has been introduced in Texas this year.

The privatizers have also held hostage the very popular bills such as HB 5 to reduce testing significantly unless their privatization bills advanced, and advance they have. So lots of folks are playing poker with kids’s lives and futures.

What keeps many of us fighting 20 hours a day and digging into our own pockets to fund the work is our understanding that these bills are not the end game. We’ve read the web sites, beginning with Milton Freidman’s epistle on the Cato Institute’s website, that lay out the insidious plan we are seeing played out. We have also read Naomi Klein’s brilliant book, Shock Doctrine.

First, impose ridiculous standards and assessments on every school.

Second, create cut points on the assessments to guarantee high rates of failure. (I was in the room when it was done in the State of Delaware, protesting all the way, but losing).

Third, implement draconian accountability systems designed to close as many schools as possible. Then W took the plan national with NCLB.

Fourth, use the accountability system to undermine the credibility and trust that almost everyone gave to public schools. increase the difficulty of reaching goals annually.

Fifth, de-professionalize educators with alternative certification, merit pay, evaluations tied to test scores, scripted curriculum, attacks on professional organizations, phony research that tries to make the case that credentials and experience don’t matter, etc.

Sixth, start privatization with public funded charters with a promise that they will be laboratories of innovation. Many of us fell for that falsehood. Apply pressure each legislative session to implement more and more of them. Then Arne Duncan did so on steroids.

Seventh, use Madison Avenue messaging to name bills to further trick people into acceptance, if not support, of every conceivable voucher scheme. The big push now as states implement Freidman austerity budgets to create a crisis is to portray vouchers as a cheaper way to “save” schools. The bills that would force local boards to sell off publicly owned facilities for $1 each is also part of the overall scheme not only to destroy our schools, but also to make it fiscally impossible for us to recover them if we ever again elect a sane government. Too, districts had to make cuts in their budgets in precisely the areas that research says matter most: quality teachers, preschool, small classes, interventions for struggling students, and rigorous expectations and curriculum. See our report: Click on book, Money STILL Matters in bottom right corner.

Eighth, totally destroy public education with so-called universal vouchers. They have literally already published the handbook. You can find it numerous places on the web.

Ninth, start eliminating the vouchers and charters, little by little.

And, tenth, totally eliminate the costs of education from local, state, and national budgets, thereby providing another huge transfer of wealth through huge tax cuts to the already-billionaire class.

And then only the wealthy will have schools for their kids.

Aw, you may say. They can’t do that! My response is that yes, they most certainly will unless you and I stop it!”

EduShyster has developed a list of 10 signs of a real, true Transphormer. You know, the ones who are so motivated to arrange the lives of other people’s children that they can’t wait to get their parents’ okay. The ones who are so gripped by a sense of urgency that they feel called to close schools in poor communities and fire the staff without a moment’s delay, even though the students and parents beg them not to do it.

In a move clearly intended to require greater supervision of Teach for America teachers, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing tightened the rules about the training and supervision of interns.

At hearings, civil rights groups argued that it was unfair to put poorly trained interns in charge of students with high-needs, especially English-language learners and students with disabilities. Supporters of TFA argued the other side, claiming that the rules were simply bureaucratic hurdles. The “reformers,” in other words, demanded lower standards for those who teach the neediest children.

This excerpt from the article shows the two sides at their best:

“For us, it’s a fundamental issue of equity and a constitutional right to equal educational resources,” said Tiffany Mok of the American Civil Liberties Union of California. The daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong, Mok teared up as she told the commission her parents always believed she should have the same opportunities as everyone else.

“But a powerful coalition of school boards, administrators, charter operators, reform advocates — and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy — had signed a letter to the commission arguing that state law explicitly allows interns to teach students with limited English and that they should be allowed to continue to do so. Placing more state regulations over them would create needless burdens, they argued.

“This is bureaucracy at its best,” said Jessica Garcia-Kohl of Rocketship Education, a charter-school chain based in San Jose.”

Mercedes Schneider, who teaches in Louisiana and holds a doctorate in statistics and research methods, continues her analysis of NCTQ, its letter grade reports, and its ties to the reform movement.

Mike Petrilli of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute summarizes “What’s Next” for reformers (some prefer to call them privatizers).

Race to the Top was a great coup for the privatizers/reformers.

Now they plan to follow up with a direct assault on schools of education, abetted by NCTQ’s forthcoming rankings, to be published by US News. NCTQ was created by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation a dozen years ago, and saved at the outset by a $5 million grant from Secretary of Education Rod Paige. In 2005, it got caught up in a federal investigation for taking money from the Department to speak well of NCLB. Read here to learn more about NCTQ.

The privatizers intend to move on principal evaluation, to make it more like teacher evaluation (test scores matter).

Pension reform will be high on their agenda.

Privatizers will promote digital learning by removing seat time requirements and following the guidance of former Governor Jeb Bush on this subject. No mention is made of the negative evaluations of cyber charters, both by Stanford’s CREDO and the National Education Policy Center, or of exposes that appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post about the awful performance of cyber charters.

Gird your loins, folks, the privatizers are flush with victories in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, Maine, Florida, and other states, and they are coming back to do some more reforming.

In response to the post about the “irreplaceables,” in which the New Teacher Project claims that an average first-year teacher is more effective than 40 percent of teachers with seven or more years of experience, teachers are asking the inevitable questions.

Why is education the only field in which experience is undesirable? In what other line of work would a first-year practitioner be considered better than those with years of experience? When you go to a hospital, do you want to see a doctor or a first-year intern or, for that matter, a new college graduate with no medical training at all?

And this:

If a first year teacher is more effective than one with seven years, what happens when that first year teacher has seven years? Does she too become ineffectual? I have been teaching for 16 years and know I am definitely better now than I was then. I also believe I will continue to get better with each passing year. This is nonsense.

This just in from California educator Robert Skeels:

What do you call plutocrat funded “research” that isn’t peer reviewed and is conducted by an organization that has already drawn a priori conclusions? Answer: A policy paper.

Pretty much everything one would ever need to know about The new Teacher Project (TNTP) is summed up here:

TNTP is “a leading voice on teacher quality.” – American Enterprise Institute

With extreme right-wing credentials like that, how can TNTP go wrong with Arne Duncan? Nice the ED department is shilling for private corporations like TNTP. Glad my community’s tax resources are being used to promote junk science like VAM/AGT instead of being using in the classroom or school libraries. You know, stuff that actually promotes learning, instead of testing.

TNTP’s board features members from reactionary Ed-Trust and even Bain & Company, Inc.. The former, of course, being Mitt Romney’s “sister” company from which we get Green Dot Charter Corporation’s nasty little Marco Petruzzi from.

This just arrived in my email box. The writer signed her name:

There has been so much debate about educational reform and about Michele Rhee and her Students First organization. I am compelled to describe my experience this past June with the Rhode Island Teaching Fellows Program, a Rhee brainchild. The Teaching Fellows work along the same lines of The New Teacher Project but the Teaching Fellows is an alternative route to teacher certification. The premise is to attract people from the public sector and after 5 weeks of training they will be employed as first year’s teachers in high needs urban schools. The catch phrase is “Let’s close the achievement gap” and get your teaching certification in an alternative route program-well yes I know all about the achievement gap and only starting to realize all the components at work and I decided to re-enter school to become a teacher and this program sounded perfect. I could not have been more wrong!  

We start week one learning this militant type tactics of behavioral control-such as “Do it again” “Do it now” and “Slant” to name just a few-we practice this over and over again in a highly structured environment where our every move is scheduled and monitored. We are told where to sit, when to stand and when to speak-they occasionally mix up the tables I believe so friendships are not formed and “talk” starts.  We have lunch in groups with our coaches. We are actually scheduled to meet with our coaches for “debriefing” where we are told not to talk and only answer with yes and no. We watch videos of children in which these tactics are employed in other States.

Students are drilled on how to line up, hands by side, mouths closed-told which way to turn and what muscle to move next. They are instructed like they are in the military or prison. All the kids in the video are of course black-these behavioral control tactics are of course not utilized in white schools. A strict agenda is posted in the morning requiring us to adhere to it without question. We are at this point working 16 hours a day and not thinking clearly at all. We are then told to start working on lesson plans that we will implement in the field experience component in the evening and e-mail them to our coach for a review. This lesson planning has to be evidently self-taught as I have taken no education courses, which is one of the requirements of the program.

The second week of the program we begin the field experience component is a 4 week 2.5 hour class consisting of students requiring summer school to recover credits. These are the very students we are supposed be so concerned about with the achievement gap. After 1 week of training we are individually thrown in front of this class of 22, still being monitored by training team members. I will argue that I am NOT an effective teacher after one week of training and these kids WILL suffer because of it. By the third day, 6 of my students were not in class and I believe they will ultimately drop out and as an inexperienced RI Teaching Fellow I am completely responsible; it is reprehensible what we are doing to these kids.

At the end of this 5 week period we are then placed in an urban school where we are allowed to teach under an emergency teaching certification. At this point we are required to join the TNTP academy where throughout out the year we attend classes and workshops to get our own teaching certification after one year. So the premise is that to qualify for the $5500 educational grant through AmeriCorps you must work in a high need urban school in Rhode Island, what is called the urban4-Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Central Falls. These are exactly the only districts we are allowed to apply to. We are also enrolled in AmeriCorps and will receive our educational grant of $5500 after one year of service.

The cost of this TNTP academy is $6ooo-hmmm…so I will argue that the Teaching Fellows Program doesn’t care one bit about closing the achievement gap but in fact victimizes our low income minority students to achieve their own agenda which is enrollment in the TNTP academy and to fill their own pockets with outlandish salaries. . I saw advertisements on employment agencies sites for jobs within the Teaching Fellows organization paying anywhere between $60-and $78,000.00 per year-a lot of income to certify perhaps 20 teachers a year in the State of Rhode Island and my guess is less than half of those will stay in the high needs urban public schools. When I began the program there where 28 fellows; I was the fourth to drop out by the eighth day. I believe this organization is syphoning money from public education grants to serve their own purposes and the students that are being harmed are the low income black and brown students in these high needs urban schools. Michelle Rhee and this organization need to be stopped. I have decided to continue on and obtain my M.A.T. and become an effective teacher the proper way in two years and not destroy the lives of unsuspecting students on my way. I am continually looking for ways to expose this organization for what it is and hope it’s days are numbered before any more harm is done to these students.

–Theresa Laperche


I got a tweet from Britain saying that Michael Gove, the minister of education, has approved three new schools for state funding that teach creationism as science.

We know that Gove has been consulting with Joel Klein and the leaders of KIPP and has expressed great interest in charter schools. This seems to be the next step.

It does make you wonder if the world is spinning backwards. When will we see a replay of the Scopes trial?

I was re-reading Albert Shanker’s columns from the late 1990s this morning, and he warned that the greatest danger of the charter school idea was that each would “do its own thing,” have its own curriculum, and even its own version of truth. He was right.

UPDATE: Here is another view of creationism in UK schools:

We must remember that US debates are different from those played out in other nations.