Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Lets get more teachers by cutting the red tape

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Say Anything | August 12th, 2015

North Dakota has a teaching shortage, and state Superintendent Kirsten Baesler thinks we can address it by slashing through some of the red tape surrounding the process by which one becomes a teacher.

She has asked the state’s teaching licensing officials to allow “community experts” to fill teacher positions. It’s a recommendation from a task force she’s formed to address teacher shortages in the state.

“Community experts” are people with expertise and training in a given subject but who don’t have a specific teaching degree. An example would be someone with a four-year music degree getting a job as a music teacher despite not having a teaching degree. Or perhaps someone with experience in the building trades taking over a shop class.

It’s an emergency rule, and must be approved by Governor Jack Dalrymple, but so far this seems to be something that will likely happen. That’s a good thing.

In fact, the only real problem is that we weren’t already doing this as a matter of permanent policy.

“Content knowledge is just half of what it takes to be a good teacher,” Baesler is quoted as saying in a Fargo Forum article about her initiative. I would hope that content - what math teachers know about math, and what science teachers know about science - is more than just 50 percent of what makes a good teacher.

Teaching method is important, sure. The most brilliant mathematician in the world isn’t going to be worth a fig in the classroom if he or she cannot deliver knowledge to students effectively. Even so, it seems to this observer that teaching qualifications today seem to emphasize methodology over knowledge and experience.

And might that not be a part of what’s wrong with our schools? For years, both here in North Dakota and nationally, we’ve struggled with education mediocrity. American students generally rank well behind students from other nations in all manner of academic measures.

This has prompted much finger pointing over the why of those lackluster outcomes. Some say teacher unions are to blame. Others say it is that we aren’t spending enough on education. Still others say we have too little school choice, or too much top-down education policy coming from Washington D.C.

Education policy has far too many variables to isolate any one as a factor in less-than-optimal outcomes, but perhaps one we ought to be talking about more is what sort of prerequisites we have for becoming a teacher.

I am a product of the North Dakota public school system, and I have two children currently attending public schools in this state as well. Based on that experience, I can tell you that some of the best teachers I’ve come across are those who came to teaching after first working in another career field.

This isn’t surprising. Imagine being taught chemistry by someone who went from high school to college and then straight into teaching versus someone who actually worked in the field first. The first isn’t necessarily a bad teacher, but which of these teachers is more likely to inspire a students a passion for the subject matter?

The teacher who actually worked in a chemistry-related field, or the teacher who has only ever experienced chemistry in a classroom?

Again, North Dakota has a teaching shortage, and it would be a shame if Baesler’s efforts to ease that shortage were bogged down in politics. The state’s teachers union - North Dakota United, which has absorbed the North Dakota Education Association - has yet to weigh in publicly on this proposal but I think we can guess their reaction to it.

Unions, by definition, are about protecting the earning power and job security of their members. Occupational licensing regulations are one of their most powerful weapons. A policy widening the pool of potential teachers does not further their goals, even if it might improve the quality of education.

I suspect some - perhaps ND United - will try to write Baesler’s proposal off as an effort to lower standards for teachers, but we really ought to think of it is creating a different, and better, set of expectations for what makes a good teacher.

RECENTLY IN

Say Anything

Tracker Pixel for Entry Spring Packages Winnipeg Tracker Pixel for Entry SkootersPlumbing Tracker Pixel for Entry The Sweet Trip Winnipeg Tracker Pixel for Entry LionsWay2 Tracker Pixel for Entry HPR - Best of the Best 2018

Recently in:

News

Destroying heritage

by C.S. Hagen

GRAND FORKS – Residual racism is a leading reason why the University of North Dakota plans to demolish the last brick-and-mortar remnants of Wesley College, some historians say. Wesley College, a former Methodist school, merged…

Last week we talked about my lack of photographic skills and then what the heck am I going to do with all of these bad pictures that I take. Storage options for those pictures continues this week:RAIDAnother storage option is a…

Friday, April 27, 9pm-howlingThe Aquarium, 226 N BroadwayWith each member armed with a bass drum this footstompin’ four piece is here to kick FM into a dance-dance overdrive. There’s a reason they’ve oft been referred to as…

There’s something to be said about the art of listening. Effective communication is like playing a game of catch, you need to bounce the conversation ball back and forth to keep it going. I never was one much for sports-ball but…

Maybe We Should Quote "The Raven" MoreThe January National Geographic magazine has a remarkable article about the 10,000 species of birds that live around and above us, and it prompted me to recall some of the species I have…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Oysters

by HPR Staff

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comAs a North Dakota native, raw oysters are just not a food staple that I think about. We are about as far from the coasts as we can get and we have a backyard full of tasty local cuisine, like walleye…

By Cindy Nicholscindy.nichols@ndsu.eduI find myself almost weepy with appreciation, these days, for any small reprieve I can find from chronic sickness-at-heart; any small mercy that either helps me to forget about 45 for an hour,…

Longtime writing partners Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein make their joint directorial debut but don’t quite get everything right in “I Feel Pretty,” an Amy Schumer vehicle that jettisons the hard-R ribaldry of…

Originally from Turkey, Tülin ÖZSİSLİ is a visiting scientist at NDSU. She has created art inspired by science with bright and active acrylics, oils and watercolors.  “Painting is essential in my life for expressing my…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

I consider myself an avid wine drinker, but I recently found out there are more than 10,000 varieties of grapes, and about 1,500 of those are used to make commercial wines. I don’t know about you, but I could probably name about…

I was amid some of the worst anxiety I have experienced in my life. I was worried about money, moving and multiple other things. My chest felt heavy and was dominated by a feeling of constriction and restriction; to both my life…

By Melissa Martin melissamartincounselor@live.com “I’m sorry” are two vital words to be used in relationships because human beings are imperfect people living in imperfect environments. Ask yourself the following…

Calm was the day in late JulyAnd bright was the sun across the skyBut inside his chest the calm had brokenGovernor Sinner had started croakin’.I laughed the first time I read that, and I’m still laughing every time I think…