Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My Open Letter to the Colleges of Education

Hey there, Colleges o' Education,

Ryan here. You may remember me from the credits that I've taken from you, particularly Eastern Washington U--hey, how's it going, Cheney!--and now that I'm a union guy I spend even more time interacting with y'all on a variety of projects.

It's in that capacity that I'm writing to you today. What with the budget cuts and the layoffs and the reductions-in-force and all, it's not really easy on us union leaders. I think there's a chance that I might be able to get my members through the storm with the only job losses being through attrition, which is a trick that I didn't think I'd be able to pull off after the Senate budget came out a few weeks ago.

But really, let's cut to the chase: you guys, you Colleges of Education, are making my job an awful lot harder, and I'd really like you to knock it the hell off.

Exhibit A: One of my school psychologists. The only thing that he could be is a school psychologist, because somehow, some way, he got out of his prep program with only an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) certificate and nothing else. For the last 10 years he's been a capable psych, but with my district looking to cut back his position was at risk.

He can't go into the classroom.
He can't even become a special ed teacher, even though he's the guy who qualifies people for special ed.
The only thing that he can do for the schools is to be a school psychologist.

Exhibit B: My music teachers. The number of credits required to become a music teacher is ridiculous, which gives the college kids going down that path absolutely no time to pick up a minor, or an endorsement, or anything else. The result is that you Colleges of Education are graduating really good music teachers who are completely and absolutely SOL when the schools are faced with budget crises and decide to cut back on music.

They can't go into the classroom. They're not highly qualified under the federal rules.
Legally, oddly, they can teach the pay-go general ed preschool, but most districts don't have that option.
No, the only thing that they can do for the schools is to be music teachers.

Google "How to Avoid a Layoff" and one of the first sites you'll find is this one, which rehashes advice that we've all heard for as long as the industrial society has existed: the best way to keep yourself employed is to have a wide variety of skills that would be useful to your employer. If you can only fill one role, you're very expendable when that role is no longer needed.

Colleges of Education, you're prepping your students to be the proverbial buggy-whip makers if you only prepare them to be one role for their schools, and that's a damned shame for the poor schmucks paying honest money for you to get them job ready.

In a way, guys, I don't really blame you. The Professional Educator Standards Board changes their mind more often than a baby gets a diaper change, and God only knows where we are with Highly Qualified/HOUSSE right now. The hoops that the state puts up have blown right past ridiculous, with layers of well-intentioned nonsense piled atop one another; a sort of surreal, bureaucratic onion that makes you cry when it cuts you.

That said, take a serious look at the world we live in right now, and then look at the graduates that you're about to unleash. Are they really, honestly prepared? Have you given them a skill-set that gives them a real chance at both being hired and earning continued employment for as long as this downturn sustains?

Often, the answer is yes, you are. It's the exceptions that are making things quite messy, and you'd be doing everyone a favor if you'd fix the problem.

It's on you when these things happen.


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Blogger din819go said...

Ryan -- A thought. Why not eliminate the school/college of education as an undergraduate program. Why not require future teachers (heck those in school right now, too) to get a major and a minor in academic subjects. Then if they still want to teach they go back to school to get a masters and their teaching certificate. This does a couple of things. First, it gives the teachers a true academic background which many do not have today. Second, it gives them a subject matter major to help them better prepared their students for life after K-12 forced er schooling. Third, it brings a little older and hopefully more mature beginning teacher to the classroom who will also earn more money.

Just thoughts...

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you did send this to the contact people for the schools of Ed, right?

If you need their email addresses, please contact me.


8:51 AM  

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