Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Certifiably Crazy Idea

A recent opinion piece written by Richard Slettvet, an Edmonds SPED teacher, on Washington state's Pro-Cert Program brings several issues to light.

Professional Certification (ProCert) is a relatively new program that requires teachers who hold initial Washington State Residency Certificates to return to education school for one to two years of additional coursework in such archetypal ed-school activities as reflecting on "their intentional decision-making skills," collegial collaboration, portfolio development and writing professional growth plans.

ProCert does not, it is important to note, include any courses in the pedagogies of reading, math, science, social studies or writing.

Such navel-gazing in lieu of academic rigor is neither new to teacher certification, nor restricted to Washington state. In City Journal, author Heather Mac Donald concluded that the "immutable" dogma of ed schools was "Anything But Knowledge." (Many educators have horror stories of teacher ed that, like sausage-making, are best kept from public view.)

As Sletvett points out, there is no research-based reason to support this program, it is redundant, and serves only to generate funding for universities (and oh, how I love the sausage-making reference).

Ed schools already wield far too much control over Washington's system of public education, with virtual veto power on who even gets to become a teacher, and often limiting entry into the profession to those who demonstrate a politically correct mindset or who are deemed amenable to indoctrination.

Teachers, principals and other administrators all must obtain ed-school consent to qualify for their jobs. Such inbreeding stifles creativity, promotes groupthink and suppresses dissent, and leads to such disasters as the WASL and a set of state learning standards that was graded with an "F" by an independent foundation.

I missed out on having to go through the Pro-Cert process, having moved here prior to the implementation of the requirement. I have watched countless excellent and experienced teachers suffer through this very costly process. Although many of them mentioned that the reflective process could be valuable, I haven't heard anyone remark that moving through the Pro-Cert program made a real difference where it would be most important: the daily work with their students. Perhaps this is one requirement which needs to be set aside.


Anonymous said...

I completly agree and think that we should do something as a group about this.

Anonymous said...

The pro-cert program is at it's best an onerous burden to already overloaded and overstressed teachers. What baffles me is, why hasn't the union done something about this worthless waste of time?