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.

Brook Bowman, Writer

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With the signing of Senate Bill 1042 in May, Governor Doug Ducey promised to fill up Arizona’s classrooms “by allowing highly-qualified professionals who have significant experience in a subject matter, possess a higher education degree, and have passed a background check to be certified to teach.” This is a mistake that will negatively affect future student learning.

This bill is a problem because having a degree or experience in a subject does not mean someone knows how to teach. Currently, certified teachers are required to take classes on how to make lesson plans, how to deal with classroom management, and how to grade student work. Putting an inexperienced teacher without any certification in front of a class of thirty-something students is asking for trouble.

The teaching profession loses three out of every five new teachers during the first three years. This is generally attributed to the fact that the teaching profession is much more challenging than people expect. Now, what’s going to happen when you take a new teacher, throw him or her in the classroom with no training? The state is going to lose more new teachers than ever before. The long term consequences for the teaching profession are dire — we should be focusing on ways to get more teachers in the classroom, not scaring them away with no training.

Supporters of the bill argue that there are plenty of bad teachers in the classroom who are fully certified. And this is certainly true. But it is also true that there are bad doctors, lawyers, and scientists — all of whom are required to go through extensive training. Just because there are some bad apples doesn’t mean we should throw away the whole bunch.

In the past decade, the National Education Association found that Arizona has faced problems like low pay, no classroom resources, and too many teaching requirements. In fact, Arizona is one of the lowest states in the union for teacher pay — a teacher’s salary is the equivalent to being a manager at Taco Bell. This makes it very hard to attract motivated and intelligent young people to the profession. Therefore, it is understandable why Ducey might sign this law.

But the state must also consider the possible problems that students will face as a result of this new bill. In history, no problem has ever been solved by creating another problem. Our state should fix the problem at hand, which is that our teachers are not being paid enough. Higher salaries would attract more qualified teachers, which is what we really need. Instead of lowering the bar and letting anyone teach, let’s raise the bar by raising salaries. After all, teachers are teaching the future. Without them, future generations will all be doomed.

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Prepared to Teach?