Good news for mid-life career changersThis letter is a...

the Forum

February 08, 1993

Good news for mid-life career changers

This letter is a response to the Jan. 21 query from a "mid-life career changer" seeking teacher certification in Maryland.

In her letter this individual asked: "What's this about a five-year education degree?" Her concerns included the fact that a five-year program will make teacher training even more "complicated, tedious, expensive, and demeaning." She decried the practice of requiring "endless, meaningless course work" for teacher certification.

There is actually a great deal of good news for this concerned citizen. As it is currently conceptualized, the proposed five-year program to which she refers will actually permit career changers to achieve teacher certification more expeditiously than in the past. The concept is currently being explored by study groups, consisting of a wide variety of constituencies.

However, in its initial form, it is a model that includes an undergraduate degree (B.A. or B.S.) with a major in an academic area, something most career changers seeking teacher certification already possess.

Beyond the bachelor's degree, it proposes a 15-month "internship" (probably paid) to provide the teacher candidate with the clinical experiences necessary to prepare for the rigors of the classroom.

Although the details of this proposal are still being hammered out by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, we believe there are parts of it that will be more, rather than less, user-friendly for the pool of "talented professionals" seeking second careers in teaching.

Less of the "meaningless course work" will be required under the new plan. More time will be spent in clinical schools, working with master teachers.

Another point raised in the letter is the difficulty of obtaining a certificate through our current credit count route. There is good news in this area, as well.

Staff of the Department of Education presented a proposal at the December meeting of the State Board of Education to revamp the current transcript analysis system so that individuals with rich life experiences may use these (in lieu of formal course work) as evidence of their readiness to teach.

An example of such life experience would be publication of reports, articles or books in the content area, recognition by other professionals and job assignments that require the application of the content (e.g., science).

It is believed by many that expertise in an academic discipline may be gained in a variety of ways, not just by taking courses. Therefore, the new direction reflects a wide array of options for demonstrating expertise.

We hope this letter helps to clarify some of the new directions in teacher education and certification in Maryland. It is our intention to make our policies and procedures more responsive to our customers' needs.

Rochelle L. Clemson


The writer is chief for teacher education and certification, Maryland State Department of Education.

Alternative care's virtues are debated

Given the current focus on our ailing health care system and the many interest groups that are thus threatened, it's no wonder yet another dangerously misleading article about alternative medical practices quoted in the prestigious New England Journal Of Medicine and cited in The Evening Sun ("Unconventional treatments tried most for what ails," Jan. 28).

The message appears to be that Americans misguidedly spend $14 billion per year, mostly unreimbursed, on treatments involving a long list of non-mainstream healing regimens, which the article discounts as "quackery" at best.

The article bemoans the fact that three-fourths of these patients, who are well-educated, well-off white Americans aged 25 to 49, never tell their mainstream medical practitioners about such extracurricular activities and also the fact that "the use of unconventional therapy, especially if it is totally unsupervised, may be harmful."

Now really! If you were an educated, discriminating consumer of alternative care, would you confide that fact to a doctor who was as narrow-minded and presumptuous as the ones quoted here?

Who are these practitioners to claim the right to judge which treatments the public should buy and condemn alternative practitioners ` chiropractors, acupuncturists and homeopaths.

The authors, however, have little to be worried about. The majority of patients, including the less advantaged, the non-white, the very young and the elderly, continue to be loyal consumers of mainstream medicine, no matter how much it costs them and the taxpayers and no matter how inflexible, overzealous, self-serving or naive these practitioners may be.

Helene Hirschler


Poem for peace

I am one of the admirers of Maya Angelou's inaugural poem "On the Pulse of Morning."

I was surprised, however, that no one quoted in your article commented on the strong anti-war references and images contained therein.

In the poem Ms. Angelou says to me that a new morning is dawning only if we can avoid war. Otherwise, we'll end up extinct like the dinosaurs.

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