Thursday, May 12, 2011

Texas GOP Legislature OK with Certifying a New Crop of Texas Public School Teachers without any Practice Teaching Experience

Gail Collins is the funniest columnist in America.   If you could isolate the strands of DNA responsible for her wit, cleverness and common sense, you would consider mass producing them in petri dishes to be surreptitiously injected in the dark of night into Republican politicians and Tea Party leaders everywhere.

This morning Ms. Collins column is on the GOP's big push for privatization of "public" education.  Texas is always held out by GOP politicians as a shining example of a state that is "Open for Business" due to the  acumen of Governor Perry and the Republican legislators in the Lone Star State.  Gail Collin's column on educational reform in Texas (and Ohio) is here.

Here is the crux of her column:
Now let’s take a look at Texas, which has been leading the way in putting for-profit companies in charge of certifying teachers.

“Very interesting and very disturbing,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford who studies teacher certification issues. Darling-Hammond says that when the federal government began demanding certified teachers in every classroom, Texas was among the states that responded by creating alternative certification programs, some of which have requirements slightly less rigorous than those for the trainers at neighborhood gyms. Most of the new teachers in Texas — particularly at schools in poor neighborhoods — come from alternative certification programs.

Then, the Legislature invited for-profit businesses into the game. “Ever since then, the innovation and competition has been phenomenal,” claimed Vernon Reaser, the president of Texas Teachers, the largest of the state’s alt-cert companies.

Here is one indicator of how innovative things are getting. Texas is currently considering — although not with any great intensity — a bill that would require that people who go through these programs spend a couple of days practice teaching before they are turned loose in their own classrooms.

The sponsor is Representative Mike Villarreal of San Antonio. Villarreal first came to my attention as the legislator who proposed requiring that the course content in public school sex education classes be medically accurate. The man is a positive genius for coming up with bills to make the Texas education system do something we really had assumed it had been doing all along. None of which make it out of committee.
At a public hearing on Villarreal’s bill, Reaser vigorously denounced the idea of requiring would-be teachers to actually get classroom experience as part of their training: “Practice teachers in front of kids that aren’t practice learning!”
To get an alternative teaching certificate in Texas you need to take coursework and have 30 hours of “field-based” experience, 15 of which can be spent watching videos.
Villarreal says some programs fill up the other 15 with things like chaperoning field trips. It’s not clear how many people get hired as full-time teachers without ever having stood in front of a classroom for a single hour.
The $4,195 Texas Teachers program (its ubiquitous billboards read: “Want to Teach? When Can You Start?”) is a little opaque. For instance, Reaser assured me in a phone conversation that his students were required to have a variety of in-person interactions with their instructors even though the Web site says you can opt for “fully online instruction.” “On our Web site, we intentionally don’t say everything,” Reaser explained. “It’s basically to get you to call us and ask us.”
This is where the Republican party is taking us with privatization.  To a bright future where we entrust our children to new teachers that have never had to first student teach with experienced teachers.  "God bless us all, and God bless the United Corporate Donors of America!"

1 comment:

  1. Texas used to thank the lord for Mississippi, those days may be gone now. There must be some sort of self-perpetuating process going on here. Tom Delay looks rational and sweet compared to these morons.