The CS Press

Prepared to Teach?

Do teachers need to be certified to teach? The latest bill allows schools to hire teachers without a formal degree.

Aidia Nielsen, Writer

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With an increasingly alarming teacher shortage statewide, the newest legislation allowing for emergency certification is exactly what Arizona needs to remedy the numerous empty classrooms in public schools.

The main reason to support this bill is, let’s face it, we have no choice. As the state’s teacher exodus and classroom sizes have grown, educators’ annual salary has decreased, both exponentially and irretrievably, it is no surprise legislature took drastic measures. We simply do not have enough qualified teachers to fill available positions.

Without a backfill of qualified teachers, the state had no choice but to figure out a way to get the best possible people to step in. It turns out that there are people out there who are passionate about their subject matter and want to teach, but don’t have the time or resources to go back to school. And isn’t passion really the most important quality to look for in a teacher?

Interestingly, nowhere on the list of qualifications to teach — whether certified or emergency certified — does it say anything about passion. For better or worse, America is a label loving country. The applicant with the Masters will always get hired, the news story with the most exciting headline will unwittingly be the most read, and, most relevant of all, cheating has clearly increased because students care more about grades than education itself.

If we are being honest, the teaching profession has changed drastically as a result of the country’s obsession with standardized tests. In order to get their students to score highly on these tests, teachers are reduced to “teaching to the test.”  Each teacher has, for lack of a better phrase, been handed a curriculum outline to follow nearly verbatim. This has all but eliminated teacher individuality.

Granted, many will argue that this new bill loosens the process, and bad eggs might line the basket. But there are bad eggs lining the certified teachers’ baskets as well. Instead of focusing on the problems with emergency certification, we should be grateful that there is someone willing to fill in. How many students remember their teacher leaving mid-year last year? That is valuable learning time that we can never get back.

Cactus Shadows has suffered the same challenges as everyone else and, this year, three teachers were hired under this new bill, including Biology teacher Sasha Sypken. Sypken does not have a teaching degree, but she does have a college degree. Most importantly, she understood that she could help Arizona in this time of need. With five weeks of teaching under her belt, she is going strong, working hard to present challenging curriculum to her students and engaging them in the learning process.

Finally, it is important to understand that each one of these new teachers hired under the new bill are required to take education classes and to eventually obtain their teaching degree. What better way to learn than to do firsthand.

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The Voice of Cactus Shadows High School
Prepared to Teach?