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What do we mean by "qualified" teachers?
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The state's plan to have all teachers certified by 2014 raised a lot of interest on the phone, and online today.  The key objections:

  • Does this jeopardize current specialized instruction from "special education" teachers?
  • How do we allow part-time arts instructors to continue to teach in magnet schools?
  • Why won't the state wait for the new administration to make changes to NCLB before embarking on big certification changes?

Many others were addressed on-air by Education Commissioner Mark McQuillian.  A lot of the thoughts that came in online during the last day dealth with the New Haven magnet school ECA, profiled here by WNPR's Marie Kuhn.  

From Noah Baerman: The world of jazz training has always operated largely on an apprenticeship system, whereby skilled and experienced practitioners communicate their wisdom in a hands-on manner to the up-and-comers. To have access to that as a high school student is not only a gift, but it is in most cases a necessity for those who aspire to professional viability. I needed a mentor who was having real-life experiences in the field to show me the things for which I needed to be prepared in the “real world,” not one who put those pursuits on hold in order to go about becoming certified.

From Lady McCrady: Most children in the arts succeed academically because they have a richer cultural understanding, a more rounded view. My daughter at ECA loves academics at her high school. But her participation in the dramatic arts at ECA New Haven defines who she is, encourages her to express her unique point of view.

From Margot Schlipp: I am deeply concerned about the certification requirements that seem to be coming, because I love ECA's students who are driven, extremely talented, and amazing. I want to continue teaching at ECA, but there is no way I could choose to get certified, even using the Alternate Route to Certification (ARC). I could see that it would be an option if I wanted a full-time position as a teacher in a high school, but for me, someone who wants to continue in my profession as a writer and a college teacher (I have two master's degrees in English), it would be too costly, and I would have to give up ECA in order to take on additional classes at area colleges.

From Penny: I fear that we are certifying to the extreme and that we are trying to make everyone and every class exactly alike. The fact is the magnet school specifically work with gifted and talented children. Those part-time teachers are asked to GIVE their skills and knowledge to 'special' kids who have honestly been ignored over the past ten years for the 'special students' who need extra help.  This is just one more obstacle to helping to motivate students who are bored in the regular classroom because we are teaching to the lowest and letting that population dominate our thinking about education.  There should be different kinds of certification and these teachers should be guest artists in the schools under a separate certification.

From Arnie Sabatelli (who also called the show): What Mr. McQuillan doesn't seem to understand is that it's not that we're simply saying "no, we won't do it, and we want a special exclusion from what other public school teachers are required to do..."  Rather, we are saying we can't do it.  We all spend a considerable amount of time as practicing professional artists in our careers, and mos of us also teach at the college level and design classes at ECA under the college seminar paradigm.  1. We simply don't have time to take from 20-30 credit hours more given our very busy schedules--piecing together a range of part-time teaching assignments to assist us financially as we pursue our art as professionals. 2. We couldn't afford it.  ECA pays us for 10hrs./week at a very modest hourly rate, and we receive no benefits.  The cost of getting certified would roughly equal 1/3 to 1/2 of a year's salary. 

From Christopher Udry: The part-time arts teachers at ECA fall somewhere in the middle of this range, and thus the appropriateness of certification should at least be open to question.  It is clear that the cost of certification is extremely high relative to the part-time pay of these instructors.  And the benefit would be relatively low, because the philosophy of ECA is to create professional mentoring relationships between the faculty and students.  This is a very different interaction than is typical in a high school classroom.  And in order to succeed in this kind of mentoring, these professional artists have built their qualifications through a different path.  On balance, a certification requirement threatens the very foundation of ECA: its ability to attract dynamic, skilled professional artists to work part-time with highly motivated student-artists. I would imagine that similar considerations would come into play at other arts magnet programs in the state, and for other kinds of vocational and professional education.