November 15th, 2011

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Teachers, districts, parents

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The K-12 educational institutions throughout this country have a few things in common. They cost a lot of money to run, they are complex, they are full of children, adolescents, and adults. Some work better than others, and the ratio of working to not working so well changes all the time.

The constant clamor for change is always there too, no matter where the school is located, and no matter what the grade level mix is. That is, in the Eduskeptic’s opinion, as it should be. Education is not a static enterprise.

It is common today to hear complaints about teachers, the system, the results. Political agendas are liberally mixed into the goulash of what is wrong and how to fix it. For some rather strange reason, teachers seem to the main target of those who rail against the public system.

Teachers in the K-12 system, with rare exception, have professional credentials to teach, gained after a five year march through the University and teacher ed system. The credentials are pretty specific as to what the individual may teach. Having a credential for self-contained K-8 classrooms does not permit one to teach any stand alone subject to rotating groups of students. A specialized credential for a single subject is required to do that.

It is true that some teachers come into the field with other licensed skills, or gain them while also teaching. An RN, PhD, Marriage, Family, Child Counseling, Nutritionist license pop up occasionally.

Except for the nurses, schools generally don’t have other licensed professionals on the payroll, in the classroom. School psychologists simply have a Masters Degree, and credential and expertise in testing. They are not Phd level psychologists who are licensed or able to provide psychological services.

Here are some things that regular classroom teachers are simply not either licensed to do, or necessarily have the requisite skills for: counseling of any kind, including marriage, psychological or any other kind, medical or legal advice or expertise, nutrition, qualified expertise in any of the alphabet named syndromes, disabilities, or special needs, life style coach, clairvoyance, palm reading, or the ability to see into the future, to name a few.

We simply teach. That is what our license permits us to do. Expecting a teacher to enter into other professional fields without the proper credentials or expertise is simply wrong. Yet, every day, it happens. Teachers are increasingly finding themselves pressured to be all things to all people.

Classroom teachers already have a full day teaching. Districts need to place professionals in the schools to address the other issues, if the district believes that is necessary. Parents need to understand that teaching is in and of itself a rather intense, full time endeavor.

If other services are needed or wanted, parents and district officials need to figure out how to offer them, or not, outside the confines of the classroom.

Let the teachers teach. Let the other professionals do whatever it is they have a license to do.

As always, assume nothing, verify everything.