Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Smoke and Mirrors on Alternative Certification


It looks like a step forward. The New York Times story is headlined “Alternate Path for Teachers Gains Ground.” At first glance, it looks as though it is getting easier for an accomplished person without an education degree to get a job in public schools in New York state by using an alternative certification mechanism.

The Board of Regents is soon to vote on “whether to greatly expand the role of the alternative organizations by allowing them to create their own master’s degree programs,” says the Times.

Wait a minute. Master’s-degree programs? Ah, perhaps you didn’t know that every teacher in the New York state system is expected to get a master’s degree. I didn’t.

“New York is one of a dozen states that requires teachers to get a master’s degree,” writes the Times (making a small but sad grammatical error). The paper explains that “teachers can begin working without a master’s degree as long as they have had some education courses as undergraduates, but they must earn a professional certification within five years by receiving a master’s degree from a teaching school.”

To state the obvious, this is credential inflation of enormous magnitude — and apparently one that’s fairly widespread. To teach reading, writing, and arithmetic in the second grade, you have to have a master’s degree — or else be in the process of getting one!

I may say more about this later, but at the moment I am simply stunned.


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