Competency Test for Teachers

The latest information from the Los Angeles Unified School District is that it will be short 2,500 teachers for the 1985/86 school year. The district has been issuing emergency credentials and provisional credentials to people who have not completed the course work and other requirements necessary to earn clear credentials, and still it will be short 2,500 teachers. How far down the barrel the district is willing to reach to find bodies to cover classrooms is moot at this point. Perhaps district personnel department people will begin hanging out in front of K mart stores offering credentials and teaching positions to anyone who will accept one.

How knowledgeable are our newer classroom teachers today? Is the public getting a dollar's worth of education for a dollar's worth of tax money allocated to teachers' salaries? Are the schools' natural clients, the students, being taught by competent professionals or by people who have been hired in desperation and sent into classrooms, certificated bodies paid to fill legal and paper work requirements?

I sometimes wonder what would happen if students were to test the competence of teachers. "Mr./Mrs. Teacher, before you take up my time with composition lessons, may we see a sample of your own writing? May I see an essay you've written? How many essays have you written in the last year? How many books have you read in the last year? What is the extent of your own vocabulary? Do you know the meanings of the difficult words in the text we're studying? Can you spell those spelling demons yourself?

Perhaps it's time students began asking such questions. No one else seems to want to.


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