Teaching Can Be A Profession by Joel Klein
Joe Klein's article Teaching our children can be a profession: Column calls for changes in education. His main focus would be to professionalize teaching. He lists the problems and possible "solutions" that should be addressed.
Problems with teaching profession:
1. The academic programs
2. The recruitment process
3. The rewards teachers receive
4. The importance of seniority
Solutions to the problems:
1. Developing better academic training for prospective teachers
2. Recruit from the top one-third of new graduates
3. Rewards should be given based on performance
4. Professionalize teaching
Mr. Klein suggests having better academic training for future potential teachers. Albert Shanker suggests that future educators be required to obtain "a supervised internship of one to three years." This would allow an in-depth evaluation of them. In my opinion, this is an excellent way to get high qualified teachers into classrooms. Academic programs should be monitored the same way medical and law schools are monitored. If the curriculum does not meet high qualifications, it should loose its accreditation. If the faculty is not training future educators to strive for schools to employ them, they too, should not be allowed to continue to teach.
Mr. Klein states "virtually anyone with a college degree can become a teacher." Recruitment of future teachers are usually done in a four-hour block during a career fair. Although this can be effective, it is outdated. I agree that teachers should be recruited from the top-third of a graduating class. When we send our children to school, we are entrusting that their teacher is the best at what he or she does. I can remember my mother, who is a teacher herself, handpicking my teachers during elementary and junior high school. She wanted to make sure that I got the best education and a teacher that had a strict discipline mindset. Just like people want to go to the best doctors and lawyers, parents should have the peace of mind that their child is being educated by the best teacher.
The problem with rewarding teachers based on seniority is that they are not judged based on their performance. He states the current approach is all teachers are thought of as being "interchangeable". I also agree that teachers need to be rewarded based on performance. Teachers that perform on a superior level should be awarded tenure. According to Webster's dictionary, "tenure is defined as the period or term of holding something, such as a position, and status is granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period, indicating that the position or employment is permanent." In my opinion, only high performing teachers and professors should be awarded tenure. I believe that the probationary period should be at least five years with each year being better than the last. This will allow first year teachers to set goals for themselves to achieve. If tenured teachers fall from this standard after a certain amount of years, tenure should be taken away.
According to the article, some school districts are losing experienced teachers to middle-class communities, leaving other districts to hire non-experienced or non-effective teachers. Seniority has become a big problem for school districts. When there are layoffs or mandatory transfers, first year teachers are usually affected instead of least effective teachers. I do not believe in last hired, first fired. I think that there should be a universal standard that schools can follow in order to keep excellent first-year teachers. One solution given in the article is to professionalize teaching. How well an educator performs will be an indicator for a teacher to keep his or her job. Albert Shanker recommended developing a "knowledge base" with peer relationships, having merit-based career ladders, and requiring a national teacher examination that is very similar to the type of tests lawyers and doctors are required to take. In my opinion, having these requirements will definitely produce above average applicants.
This is an article I recommend for all teachers and school board superintendents to read. As a future educator, I want to learn from the best so that I can teach to the best of my ability. Having the proper tools and knowledge will allow me to be on the same playing field as other applicants. A teacher should care more about shaping lives. The reward should not be whether I get tenured, but the joy and excitement of seeing one of my former students graduate and go off to college or start a career. That in itself is all the reward I need. I am here to inspire my students and get them to accomplish their dreams. In the words of Alexandra K. Trenfor, "the best teachers are those who show you where to look but don't tell you what to see."