As I read the comments in our local papers and listen to news reports on the television, I have to wonder if what Florida residents actually know what Florida's basic requirements for teachers boils down to.
While many teachers have fulfilled the requirements of obtaining their BA or MA and taking state exams, some are hired in with less than acceptable qualifications. Our certified teachers have been taught through 4-6 years of schooling how to manage their classrooms, prepare intriguing yet educational lesson plans, how to work with children of varying levels of learning capabilities, as well as teaching English to our none English speaking students.
Apparently, at one point, Florida had a shortage of teachers. I have to wonder if the shortage of teachers influenced the Department of Education's decision to allow people, with merely a BA degree to obtain a "temporary teaching certificate" and teach our children.
That's right, a person can have a BA in business, communication, marketing, heck even anthropology and apply for a temporary teaching certificate (which allows them to teach our children for three years, in the hopes they take the state mandated tests and become teachers)
But is that all it takes? Is that not implying that ANYONE can teach a classroom? Isn't that a smack in the face to all of the qualified teachers who spent years learning how to make effective lesson plans, learning how to manage different behavioral issues in their classroom, and who spent countless hours observing other teachers and interning in the classrooms.
This "rule" is truly an insult to teachers who've worked hard to obtain their certifications because without actually putting it in writing, this rule implies that anyone can teach a class full of 25 students. This "rule" is insulting to our children, who go to school every day expecting to pass standardized tests that can indicate whether they advance to the next grade or not, yet their "temporary teacher" has yet to face the same type of harsh testing and rules.
I don't know about you Floridians, but when I think about other states, that hold their teachers as important people who are shaping our children, and the other states that require, at minimum, a BA in teaching (or their subject area) and they are required to obtain a MA within four years of being hired - -this "rule" is truly insulting to Floridians with children in our school systems.
I've called the board of education to get a further explanation and some sort of justification for this "rule" but I was only given the basic information.
Yes, substitute teachers need a minimum of a high school diploma. Yes, individuals with a BA degree (in any area of study) can apply for a "temporary teaching certificate" good for three years
So, before you write letters bashing our teachers in Florida remember that quite a few of them have the required training - they're following state and county mandated curriculum and standards.
If you don't like these standards or curriculum, why don't you compare our state's with another state and take your suggestions and complaints to the board of education, not the teachers' themselves?
Also, on the Department of Education's website, the public can type in a teacher's name and view their teaching experience or certifications. Our teachers, for the most part, spend countless hours learning to adhere to the state and county rules, regulations, and standards. They attend in-service and conferences. They work with a more diverse student population that many other states because of Florida's diverse population.
I would urge Floridians to stop taking out their frustrations on the teachers in our state (with the exception of those individuals the state allows to "temporarily" teach our children in hopes that they'll obtain all of their teaching required courses and tests) and bring comments, concerns, or complaints to the board of education.
Most of us are where we are today because of our exceptional and noteworthy teachers we once had. Most of us learned to read, write, and apply the subjects we use in our everyday life to real life situations, which landed us the jobs we hold today.
Our teachers encouraged us and helped to guide us to where we are today.
Yet, Floridians, you soon forget this and quickly condemn and criticize teachers every chance you get. Take a moment to read the teacher requirements on DOE website. Take some time to compare our standards for students and teachers compared to other states.
If there are issues of concern, take your concerns to DOE but refrain from criticizing all teachers because most of them have worked hard to be where they are today, have appropriate training, and spend more than 40 hours a week with our children (which is more than most working parents).
Before you criticize and demand "punishments" (or pay based on student achievement) review the state standards for teachers and students. Should Florida really allow anyone with a BA degree to teach our children?
Isn't that an insult to the teaching profession, our children, and our entire educational system in Florida?
Kristen Mercurio lives in Lehigh Acres