Still a bad idea Teacher training: State board should retain a say in certification requirements.

March 20, 1997

UNDER MARYLAND law, two bodies share responsibility for overseeing the training and certification of teachers. The State Board of Education represents the interests of the public -- which in this matter are considerable -- while the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board oversees the interests of teachers. That's a fair balance and is the result of a compromise reached when the Maryland State Teacher's Association first sought to give teachers sole power over training and certification.

The legislature recognized then that the teaching profession is not exactly comparable to professions like medicine, law or architecture, which oversee their own licensing and certification. Even though teachers are indeed professionals, most of them are also employees of the state. Their "clients" cannot choose the teacher they prefer; they are a captive audience. This is not the case for other professions.

Another significant difference lies in the role of their professional associations. In the case of teachers, these groups also act as nTC bargaining agents in negotiating contracts, something medical or bar associations do not do.

Giving teachers sole control over entrance to their profession is still a bad idea, and legislators should reject the notion. It would significantly undermine the state's broad approach to school reform by removing important public input on matters of teacher training and certification. Innovations like alternative certification programs would likely be stifled, despite the fact that such avenues into teaching are attracting many older, experienced career changers to city schools that have trouble retaining younger teachers.

Teachers unions feel strongly about this change; they have pushed for it unsuccessfully for several years. But we fail to see how it would benefit students, and we see plenty of ways it could work against the best interests of the consumers of education -- the children.

Pub Date: 3/20/97.

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