By Mary Ollie
As a teacher, I’ve studied the tiered licensure proposal adopted by SBOE and have written about it a few times. I wanted to share with you a conservative view.
First of all, the teaching profession is not riddled with lousy teachers. When teachers do struggle, it is their colleagues who are first to notice and to react. In my teaching experience, teachers are their own harshest critics as no one wants to be associated with bad teachers. Idaho teachers like those in many states do not have tenure. We have continuing contracts after 3 years. That means we have the right to a hearing before being shown the door.
I have personally seen teachers going to the principal urging him to deal with a colleague. The system does work. One the other hand, the system also works if there is a difference of philosophy. Teacher and administrator can part ways with license intact. It’s about choice. Sometimes a teacher who seems to do all the wrong things in one district is an excellent fit for a different community. The SBOE’s new plan would seriously impact any teacher who has a difference of opinion with an administrator. No more checks and balances….which are a good thing for parents and students.
The answer to teacher quality is not more regulation but more freedom to police our own. Professions have boards to issue licenses to practice and to discipline members. Teachers are no different.
License to practice is based on completing a prescribed course of study and an approved internship.
Employment is separate. And it should be as every profession is part science and part the art of the practice. What makes a gifted physician or teacher cannot always be measured. No amount of evaluation or regulation, or busy bureaucrats will ensure excellence in practice.
What will tiered licensure mean? For starters it will mean more paper work and more bureaucracy. It will mean that teachers will focus more on pleasing their administrators than doing what is right for the children in their classrooms. It will mean less freedom for teachers to draw upon the art of teaching to work with parents and students as licensure may be at stake.
In fact, pressure to teach to the test will be significant because levels of licensure will be tied to student tests scores on SBAC. For teachers who teach subjects not “covered” by SBAC other tests are used. What tests has yet to be clarified. The end result will be that testing will play an even bigger role. Past reforms have shown this approach is not good for children and it does not work.
So here we have it. A rule that will impact children by directly connecting your child’s test scores to his teacher’s license. A rule that has no evidence to show it works.
In other words, more government regulation and more expense for the purpose of more control.