Teaching our Children can be a Profession
Problem: Teaching doesn't require the best.
Solution: Start picking from the best.
Solution: Get rid of seniority.
Problem: ..."Teachers continued to be treated...as workers in an old fashioned factory."
Solution: A new system created by teachers, for the teachers
There is a stigma attached to teaching. When I told people I was going to be a teacher, their first response was, "Really? Why? You're so brave. I could never be a teacher. That's such a stressful job." On the other hand, when I talked to someone who knew someone in the education field, their response would be "Good luck. So and so hates it." I never knew how to take these comments. Teaching was just something that came natural to me. I enjoyed tutoring people and I knew I wanted to do something that would make a difference. I'm no longer an education major, but I do understand the importance of teaching. People tend to overlook teaching, but imagine the world without teachers. You can't. Teaching, and those who teach, are fundamental for all societies. So why doesn't teaching and teachers get more respect?
One problem that Klein addresses is that anyone with a teaching degree can become a teacher. His solution is that teachers should be selected from the top third of the graduates. But what are we basing this merit on? Is it grades? Is it ability in the classroom? Is it reviews from other peers? If we're going to pick from the top third, we're going to have to get selective and that might leave out great candidates for teaching. Instead of picking from the top third, maybe the academic training of teachers needs to be changed. This is suggested by Klein stating that "23 states cannot boast a single (teacher education) program that provides solid math preparation resembling the practices of high-performing nations." It's time for an academic training makeover. The changes in academic training include a longer training process, a teacher examination, and longer student-teaching internship. If all teachers are capable of teaching to the highest degree, will there still be a need to pick from the top third? Is there another process in weeding out those who may not be as competent as another? Do we create stricter academic training for future teachers?
Another problem Klein addresses is seniority. Klein makes the statement that "Job security and seniority dictate the way our schools operate." I once talked to a former teacher and she said for the first few years of teaching, she was passed around from school to school. She was stuck in the "last hired, first fired" cycle. Professionalizing teaching should lead to excellence being a guiding factor. "Excellence" will be the key derminator in policies, standards, coursework, administration...etc. I agree that excellence should be a grading factor for teachers, but again we would have to define what excellence is. Teachers who provide constant positive results should be rewarded for their efforts with tenure or other compensations. Teachers who can not provide those same results need to be re-trained. Seniority or not, teachers who are not giving the results needed should be re-evaluated.
Going back to a stricter training for future educators, Albert Shanker, a former teachers'-union leader, suggested a "national teacher examination." This exam would be like the Bar or MCAT that lawyers or doctors have to take before being able to become fully licensed. This could weed out those who may not be as competent, but again, would this leave out those possible candidates who maybe don't test as well as others. While I agree that maybe letting anyone with a teaching degree is a bad idea, I also believe that the success of teachers should be found in the classroom, not a standardized test that dictates whether or not I should be allowed to be a teacher.
While, I may not have answered this fully, I feel as if this article was only the tip of the iceberg. While Klein had a lot to say, he gave us more problems than solutions. I don't see teaching as something that needs to professionalized because I already see it as a professional job. Seniority is to be expected no matter where you go, but it shouldn't dictate who gets to stay and who doesn't. The results that teachers provide should determine who gets to stay and who doesn't. Will creating a national test cut down on how many people choose to be a teacher? Because teaching is seen as an "easy" major, will this change the way teaching is viewed? I hope it will. Teaching needs to be respected as a professional job, but it's going to take a little more than what Klein and Shanker are suggesting.