Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More from Klein

Last week I posted a short entry about education reformers, particularly Joel Klein, former head of New York City Schools.  The Atlantic recently reported that it seems Klein is suggesting an exam for getting teaching credentials.  I find this interesting for reasons beyond the connection to Albert Shanker.  Consider that we already have all sorts of exams.  I can remember exams to get admitted to a College of Education, exit exams before credentialing and graduation, and exams for each state’s specific credentials.  Clearly this was not nationalized.  But more important about these exams – they were easy.  I remember very few people getting too stressed about these.  I only remember one person doing anything to prepare for them, and she dealt with some serious learning challenges and did pass the exam she was prepping for.  We have had exams, but they have not provided much challenge and were therefore poor screening agents for finding the best and the brightest, nor for weeding out the unqualified.  The standards have simply been too low.  If teachers faced an exam like the Bar we would have a tool for finding the best, weeding out the least-qualified, and elevating the status and respect for the profession.  As The Atlantic suggests, it could have an impact on teachers’ unions and negotiations, alternatives to benefit structures, and could potentially serve to actually attract potential teachers.  But the final point is spot on…If teacher compensation isn’t dramatically increased first, little else will serve to attract the best and the brightest. 

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