Scrap certification requirements to increase teacher quality

A Tale of Three Teachers

Author John Merrow argues that university teaching programs don’t really teach teachers what they need to know to do their jobs (AGREED!). So his solution is to make it harder to get into these schools (wha?).

To teach in American public schools, you must be certified. Certification requires a four-year degree in education, or a masters in education.

Barriers to entry limit supply, blunting competition.

The laws of supply and demand dictate that if demand stays the same for teachers, fewer applicants means higher costs and lower quality. Think about it. Would you be able to pick higher quality candidates out of 100 applicants or 1,000 applicants? If quality is equally distributed, obviously 1,000.

Now costs are handled outside of the market, through collective bargaining. So what does that leave to the market? Quality.

Certification requirements lower competition for teaching spots, meaning pretty much anyone who can make it through the joke that is education training gets to be a teacher. Further limiting who gets into these schools will exacerbate the problem. The solution is to open up teaching to anyone who wants to try to get hired. Then let schools determine their criteria for hiring. Perhaps it’s competence in their subjects. Maybe it’s experience teaching, even if it’s outside of public schools. If a teacher doesn’t work out, he or she simply gets fired or quits (what’s to lose, they haven’t sunk 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars into a teaching degree that’s useless outside of education).

Certification is supposed to be worth the decrease in overall quality to ensure a certain baseline of quality. The baseline of quality established by certification sucks donkey balls. Scrap it and let the market work.

Photo by Ron Houtman.

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