Laws that mandated the hiring of only certified teachers gave schools of education monopoly control over the supply of human capital entering our public schools. Like any monopoly, over time the business of certifying teachers became bureaucratized, bloated, inefficient, and ineffective.
According to Program Chair, Don Nielsen, “Today, there are over 1,400 schools that are licensed to grant teacher certifications and the spectrum of quality between the best and the worst is substantial.”
The state of Idaho has recognized the bureaucratized and bloated monopoly and has crafted legislation that would scale back teacher certification requirements.
House Bill 599, in essence, will lessen the strangle hold of public education institutions over teacher certifications.
The purpose statement of 599 explains that “the State Board of Education will grant a teaching certificate to a graduate of a nonpublic teacher preparation program that requires its graduates to have a bachelor’s degree, complete a criminal background check, complete subject matter content training, and complete training in pedagogy.”
This begins to open the door to the best and brightest people to enter the teaching profession. We should not eliminate all schools of education. But we must induce them to prove their ability to train and graduate effective teachers. Eliminating their monopoly position would force some schools of education to close or dramatically restructure. Both outcomes benefit children.
The driving force of this bill, as Idaho Education News reports, is to help nontraditional training programs such as Teach For America. Recent experience with many Teach For America teachers has shown that non-certified instructors can do exemplary work in the classroom. Nielsen argues that the “Teach For America program shows that the problem with our public schools has little to do with our children’s supposed inability to learn, but everything to do with our adults’ real ability to teach.”
Certification laws are the “gatekeeper” of education, and these laws are keeping the most qualified people out of the profession. Eliminating, or substantially modifying, certification laws is the fastest way to correct all of these teaching-quality problems and to enhance the stature of the teaching profession.
As Representative Gary Marshall of Idaho Falls emphasizes, “…this piece of legislation is a beginning”—the beginning of changing a failed process that keeps some of best out of one of the most vital professions in our society. While Idaho continues to move this legislation, other states should follow their example.